As, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, today acknowledged there are a lot of human rights positives for Australia, but there were two issues on which Australia’s record is troubled: Australia’s treatment of indigenous Australians and asylum seekers.
“In my discussions with Aboriginal people, I could sense the deep hurt and pain that they have suffered because of government policies that are imposed on them. I also saw Aboriginal people making great efforts to improve their communities, but noted that their efforts are often stifled by inappropriate and inflexible policies that fail to empower the most effective, local solutions. I would urge a fundamental rethink of the measures being taken under the Northern Territory Emergency Response. There should be a major effort to ensure not just consultation with the communities concerned in any future measures, but also their consent and active participation. Such a course of action would be in line with the UN Declaration.”
In respect of asylum seekers she stated:
“In my discussions with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, I have reiterated the long-standing concerns expressed by UN human rights treaty bodies that Australia’s mandatory immigration detention regime is in breach of Australia’s international human rights obligations. Australia’s mandatory detention policy has for many years cast a shadow over Australia’s human rights record. Thousands of men, women and – most disturbingly of all – children have been held in Australian detention centres for prolonged periods, even though they have committed no crime.”
Source: Media Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Huma Rights. Press Conference by United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay Canberra, 25 May 2011