Aboriginal Legal Service of Western Australia Limited

Australia Again Ignores International Calls for Action

7 June 2011

MEDIA STATEMENT

Issued by the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS)

7 June 2011

Australia Again Ignores International Calls for Action

In it’s official response to a comprehensive UN human rights review, the Australian Government has again rejected calls to action in regards to some of the nation’s fundamental human rights issues.

This week the Australian Government delivered its official response to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in relation to the numerous recommendations made during Australia’s Universal Periodic Review earlier this year.

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS) representative, and CEO of the Aboriginal Legal Service Western Australia, Dennis Eggington said that the Government’s disappointing response to the recommendations shows that they are still failing to take Australia’s human rights obligations seriously.

“Numerous UN human rights institutions continue to repeat the same calls for action and yet the Australian Government continues to ignore them,” Mr Eggington said.

“The Australian Government regularly criticises other nations for their human rights performance yet fails to implement the same commitment in their own backyard.”

Mr Eggington said that the rejection of recommendations regarding the establishment of a national compensation scheme for victims of the Stolen Generations and the implementation of a comprehensive Human Rights Act were especially disappointing.

“The continued failure of the Australian Government to compensate victims of the Stolen Generations remains one of the biggest blights on Australia’s human rights record and continues to tarnish Australia’s reputation internationally,” Mr Eggington said.

Mr Eggington said that the Australian Government’s response was also misleading as it accepted many recommendations on the basis that they were already reflected in existing laws and policies when arguably this isn’t actually the case.

“For the Government to tell the international community that existing laws and policies address the factors leading to the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in detention is misleading,” Mr Eggington said.

“If this really was the case then the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples being locked up would not be increasing.”

The NATSILS will be making a statement to the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday 8th June about these concerns.

For more information please contact Rachel O’Brien (NATSILS) on 07 3205 1253 or 0451047792.

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