: UN Committee Against Torture gives Australia a ‘Please Explain’

UN Committee Against Torture gives Australia a ‘Please Explain’

Phil Lynch
Human Rights
In December 2010, the UN Committee Against Torture issued a 'List of Issues Prior to Reporting' for Australia. The purpose of this List is to outline those issues which the Committee would like Australia to address and respond to in its next periodic report to the Committee, due in 2012.

The issues on which the Committee specifically seeks information and responses from Australia include:

  •  information regarding the legal entrenchment of human rights in Australia, including through a Human Rights Act and constitutional recognition of Indigenous people;
  •  the human rights compatibility and impacts of counter-terrorism legislation, including in relation to the powers of ASIO and the Australian Federal Police;
  •  mechanisms for monitoring and oversight of places of detention, including prisons;
  •  the right to health and access to adequate health care for detainees, including prisoners and persons detained in immigration facilities;
  •  trafficking of women and children;
  •  violence against women;
  •  the operation and impact of laws that criminalise homelessness and poverty;
  •  complementary protection and the prohibition against refoulement (sending asylum seekers back to the country from which they seek refuge);
  •  the operation and impact of Australia's refugee and asylum seeker policies, including in relation to mandatory detention, offshore processing, and the detention of families and children;
  •  the over-representation of Indigenous people and people with mental illness in the criminal justice and prison systems;
  •  Australia's extradition law, policy and practice; and
  •  police use of force, the investigation of police-related deaths and police monitoring and accountability mechanisms.
The List of Issues Prior to Reporting is available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cat/docs/followup/AdvanceVersion/Australia_AV_en.pdf

The Human Rights Law Resource Centre ('HRLRC') submission to the Committee, which significantly informed the Committee's List of Issues, is at http://www.hrlrc.org.au/content/topics/counter-terrorism/torture-and-ill-treatment-submission-to-un-committee-against-torture-on-australia-24-august-2010/.

PHIL LYNCH is Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Resource Centre.

(2011) 36(1) AltLJ 60
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