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Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF

Monday, 9 November 2015 (Afternoon)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Australia
Represented by 21-member delegation headed by John Reid, First Assistant Secretary of the International Law and Human Rights Division of the Attorney General’s Department of Australia

Documents

To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Australia page on UPR website

Troika *

Japan, Germany, Namibia

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the  opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on Australia page on UPR Extranet **)

  • The Australian Government had sustained over many years a firm commitment to international efforts to improve human rights in the Indo-Pacific region and across the world;
  • The Government had introduced national protections from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status;
  • Australia had appointed the first National Children’s Commissioner and established a Royal Commission into Institutional responses to Child Sexual abuse;
  • All governments were committed to Australia’s National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and Slavery 2015-2019;
  • Australia had established a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to assess laws for compatibility with human rights obligations;
  • Among challenges that remained was the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in key life indicators which remained unacceptable wide;
  • Work also remained to be done to create substantive gender equality and to ensure women and children were free from violence and abuse;
  • Irregular migration flows posed particular challenges to a managed and equitable system of migration. Australia’s strong boarder protection measures had played a key role in enabling the Government to maintain meaningful and significant humanitarian resettlements and assistance programmes. The Government acknowledged that the implementation of these polices has been controversial;
  • The Australian Government was committed to holding a referendum to recognize Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in the Australian Constitution in the next term of Parliament;
  • Australia was committed to resettling 12,000 refugees fleeing conflict in Syria and Iraq, bringing the number of Syria and Iraq refugees to which Australia had provided humanitarian support to more than 240,000 people;
  • Australia was a strong advocate for the global abolition of the death penalty and was committed to taking further steps to strengthen advocacy for it worldwide abolition;
  • Australia will designate a standing national mechanism to strengthen Australia’s overall engagement with UN rights reporting.

 

Participants

In total 104 States participated in the dialogue:  37 HRC members and 67 observers  (Statements available on Australia page on UPR Extranet)

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • Steps taken to improve the rights of indigenous peoples;
  • Enactment of legislation on discrimination against LGBTI persons;
  • Efforts to contribute to gender equality;
  • The appointment of a full-time Human Rights Commissioner and of the first Minister of Indigenous Heritage;
  • The National Action Plan to reduce violence against women and their children;
  • Efforts to uphold the rights of persons with disabilities.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • Steps to guarantee the rights of asylum seekers;
  • Review of immigration laws and policies and migrant detention centres; 
  • Measures to eliminate discrimination against indigenous peoples;
  • Addressing and promotion gender equality;
  • Combatting violence against women and children;
  • Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture.

Recommendations

States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Australia.  These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To make every efforts to guarantee the rights of asylum seekers; To review immigration laws and policies to ensure they met international standards and in accordance with the UN Refugee Convention;
  • To end the mandatory detention of migrant children; To ensure all migrant children had access to education and healthcare services;
  • To review the policy of offshore processing of asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Island; To review the implementation of the Migration and Maritime Power Legislation Amendment Bill;
  • To strengthen measures to eliminate discrimination against indigenous peoples; To intensify efforts to remedy economic and social inequalities experienced by indigenous peoples;
  • To continue work to reduce indigenous incarceration rates, in partnership with Aboriginal and Torre Strait Islander communities;  To implement the recommendations of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples;
  • To further develop and implement policies to ensure gender equality;
  • To take steps towards equal recognition of same-sex marriage; To amend the Marriage Act of 1961 to allow same sex couples to marry;
  • To strengthen measures to combat discrimination against persons with disabilities;
  • To take all measures to protect women and children from all forms of violence and discrimination;
  • To adopt national legislation prohibiting the use of sterilization of adults without their consent;
  • To establish a national preventative mechanism in compliance with the OP-CAT; 
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the OP-CAT, the Kampala amendments to the Rome Statute of the ICC, the Convention of the rights of migrant workers, the Convention on forced disappearances, the OP to the ICESCR, the 3rd OP to the CRC (communications), and ILO Convention 169 (indigenous peoples). 

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Australia is scheduled to take place on Thursday, 12 November 2015

*The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

Media contacts:
Rolando Gómez, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9711,
rgomez@ohchr.org
Cédric Sapey, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9695, csapey@ohchr.org 

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