The world is watching: A new low for Australia’s human rights record

10 November 2017

The UN Human Rights Committee has singled out the Australian government’s treatment of refugees in a damning report on Australian’s human rights performance overnight.

Tanya Jackson-Vaughan, Executive Director, said “Human Rights Committee’s report confirms that Australia is sliding backwards on human rights, and nowhere has that been more evident than in the normalisation of a brutal approach to the men, women and children on Nauru and Manus Island.”

Principal Solicitor Sarah Dale said “we cannot forget that the fear that the men have on Manus is backed up by what they have actually experienced. They have been shot at and beaten on our watch. Many of them have seen others killed or injured in front of them.”

“Australia put them there and carries the moral responsibility for that. This report reaffirms that Australia has legal responsibility as well. The Australian Parliament needs to stop playing games with people’s lives and evacuate them to safety right now.”

The Committee also singled out parts of the legal process for seeking asylum in Australia.

“When the government has created a humanitarian emergency on Manus Island, it is easy to overlook the abysmal treatment of people seeking asylum who are in Australia. Australians should not forget the thousands of people seeking safety who are part of our communities”, Jackson-Vaughan said.

“The Human Rights Committee has hit out against the fast track process and the restrictions on access to legal assistance. These are policies that are unfair and create a genuine risk that Australia is making the wrong decisions and sending refugees to harm” said Dale.

The Human Rights Committee, made up of 18 independent human rights experts, was looking at Australia’s adherence to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a core human rights treaty. Countries that are party to the treaty commit to being periodically reviewed by the UN Human Rights Committee.

The report is available here: Concluding observations on the sixth periodic report of Australia

For further comment – Sarah Dale 0419 200 637

PDF available here