Submission: UN Universal Periodic Review of Australia 2021

This submission was prepared for the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Australia in January-February 2021. In it, Amnesty International evaluates the implementation of recommendations made to Australia in its previous UPR, including in relation to the rights of Indigenous Peoples, the rights of asylum seekers, ensuring religious freedom is upheld and maintaining protection from all forms of religious discrimination. 

It also assesses the national human rights framework with regards to ongoing resistance by the Federal Government to introduce a Human Rights Act, which would ensure all such rights to freedom of religion, freedom of speech, right to protest and other fundamental rights would be protected and aligned across local, State and Federal Government . 

With regard to the human rights situation on the ground, Amnesty International raises concern about the ongoing racial discrimination against Indigenous Peoples, with health, life expectancy, education and employment indicators all falling well below the national average. The number of Aboriginal deaths in custody continues to rise and the minimum age of criminal responsibility is still 10 years – well below the media age of 14 internationally – with many children transported for five hours or more in police cages in the Northern Territory.

Approximately 370 refugees remain stranded offshore – seven years since Operation Sovereign Borders was launched to stop refugees arriving by boat. Amnesty International is deeply concerned about the level of human rights violations under the Australian Government’s policies of deterrence and detention – both onshore and offshore – which punish people fleeing persecution and seeking safety in Australia.

This submission makes eleven recommendations across a range of human rights issues that the Australian government must implement.

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Joel MacKay is a campaigner at Amnesty International Australia.