The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has handed down a damning report on Australia following its periodic review which took place on 4 and 5 June 2012. The Committee’s ‘Concluding Observations’ are a comprehensive set of recommendations to Australia on steps it should take to ensure better compliance with its international legal obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (‘CRC’).
Developments around the country
DownUnderAllOver is a round-up of legal news from both State and federal jurisdictions, and contains topical articles and short pieces from Alternative Law Journal committees around the country.
A bipartisan parliamentary committee has unanimously recommended that the federal government take immediate action to improve monitoring and accountability, and prevent ill-treatment, in places of detention.
The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (‘JSCOT’) has recommended that Australia ratify and implement the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture as a matter of priority. Australia signed the Optional Protocol in May 2009. Since that time, progress on ratification and implementation has been slow, with wrangling between the states and the Commonwealth about who is to foot the modest bill for detention monitoring and oversight.
Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has announced the appointment of Professor Gillian Triggs as the new President of the Australian Human Rights Commission. On 10 February 2012 the President of the Commission, Catherine Branson QC, announced her intention to leave the position in July 2012. Professor Triggs has been appointed as President for a period of five years commencing on the 30 July 2012.
The Australian Human Rights Commission Amendment (National Children’s Commissioner) Bill has been passed to create a new Commissioner position that will monitor whether Australia is adhering to its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (‘VEOHRC’) was thrown into a state of chaos in June when three of its seven Board members resigned. Two other Board members had already announced in May that they were stepping down. Another member resigned in May following public condemnation of his stance against same-sex marriage.
This recent mass resignation was prompted by Attorney-General Robert Clark’s decision to reject the Board’s unanimous recommendation for a new Commissioner, a position which has been vacant for almost a year, following the resignation of Dr Helen Szoke three years before her term expired.