UN recommendations to improve Australia’s human rights have been welcomed by community legal centres.
Amanda Alford, NACLC director of Policy and Advocacy, said the recommendations send a strong message that the international community is very concerned about Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
“There were a spread of recommendations for improvement made by other countries to Australia across a range of key areas,” Alford said.
However, the very strong message was that the international community is extremely concerned about Australia’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, as well as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in particular, and those areas were the focus of many of the recommendations.”
As part of the recommendations, it has been recommended that Australia abolish mandatory sentencing and implement measures to address the over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Funding of access to justice systems like legal assistance and initiatives designed to address family violence, were also recommended.
The Human Rights Law Centre and the NACLC have been preparing briefing materials as part of the coordinating of the engagement of a coalition of around 200 non-government organisations.
“We welcome the commitments made by the Government, including improving human rights monitoring and reporting, given that only 10 per cent of the recommendations Australia accepted as part of the first UPR were fully implemented, something a number of countries commented upon,” Alford said.
The full report of Australia’s appearance is due to be released tomorrow afternoon.
“We hope that the recommendations themselves will provide a basis for domestic advocacy moving forward, but also that there will be mechanisms in place to ensure that all levels of Australian government and all government departments are able to implement the recommendations,” Alford told Australasian Lawyer.
Australia will have the opportunity to formally respond in 2016, indicating whether or not each of the recommendations are accepted.