Tag Archives: Australia

Violence against women: UN human rights expert launches official visit to Australia


GENEVA / CANBERRA (9 February 2017) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Dubravka Šimonović will visit Australia from 13 to 27 February to assess the overall situation of violence against women, and gather first-hand information from a wide range of stakeholders, including women survivors of violence.

“Violence against women continues to be one of the most pervasive human rights violations globally, affecting every woman worldwide and Australia is no exception,” said the independent expert mandated by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor and report on the situation of violence against women, its causes and consequences in every country.

Call for submissions: Country visit to Australia

simonovicSpecial Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms Dubravka šimonović is seeking information in preparation of her country visit to Australia scheduled to take place from 13 to 24 February 2017.

The Special Rapporteur will address violence against women broadly, focusing on both its causes and consequences.

More information

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michel Forst Visit to Australia

img_6070The Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mr Michel Forst, undertook an official mission to Australia from the 4 to 18th of October.

UNIC Canberra assisted with logistical arrangements and also on the 18th of October organised a press conference for the Special Rapporteur to present his preliminary findings to the Australian media.

During the press conference he called on the Government of Australia to urgently dispel civil society’s growing concerns about the combined ‘chilling effect’ of its recent laws, policies and actions constraining the rights of human rights defenders and noted that he “was astonished to observe mounting evidence of a range of cumulative measures that have concurrently levied enormous pressure on Australian civil society.”

UNIC Canberra National Information Officer Julia Dean interviewed the Special Rapporteur for
UN Radio.

 

“All Australians have a role to play in ending racism and xenophobia,” says UN expert

GENEVA (7 December 2016) – United Nations human rights expert Mutuma Ruteere called on all Australians to strengthen efforts to end racism, xenophobia and other forms of racial discrimination in the country, especially against indigenous people, migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers, Muslims, and persons of African descent.

“The elimination of racism, xenophobia and discrimination will not happen unless it is led by the most senior political leadership and unless institutions such as the media play a constructive role,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on racism at the end of a fact-finding visit* to Australia.

Press Statement

Delivered by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance
Mr. Mutuma Ruteere
 5 May 2016 in Canberra, Australia

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land we are gathered upon today and pay my respects to their Elders past, present and future. I undertook a visit to Australia from 28 November to 5 December 2016, which is a follow-up visit of my predecessor in 2001. During my visit, I held meetings in Canberra, ACT, Melbourne, Victoria, Sydney, New South Wales and Alice Springs, Northern Territory.

I met with representatives of the Australian Government, State and Territorial Governments, Members of parliament and Senators, judges, representatives of the security forces, the Australian Human Rights Commission and State Human Rights Commissions, indigenous organizations, United Nations entities and international organizations, and non-governmental organizations as well as community members and other groups and individuals working in the field of racism.

Although I did not have the chance to meet Ministers from the Australian Government, I was able to meet with Assistant Ministers as well as State and Territorial Ministers and high-level officials from many Departments at all levels.

More: press-statement-end-visit-australia

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Press Conference audio

Sustainability Innovator and Influencer Wins Top United Nations Environmental Award

Embargoed until: 23:00 GMT

2 December, 2016 – Australian designer and innovator Dr. Leyla Acaroglu has been announced as one of the winners of the United Nations’ highest environmental accolade for her science-based yet creative work on bringing about change for sustainability.

UN Environment is giving its Champions of the Earth award to Dr. Acaroglu in the Science and Innovation category in recognition of her innovative, award-winning designs and projects that instigate positive environmental and social change.

A designer and social scientist from Melbourne, Australia, Dr. Acaroglu’s achievements include her UnSchool of Disruptive Design and its unique training modules, produced and led by her company Disrupt Design, and her ongoing efforts to transform the basis of human thinking, systems and design in support of a sustainable future.

Human rights: UN expert on racism launches follow-up visit to Australia

GENEVA (23 November 2016) – The United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, Mutuma Ruteere, will carry out a follow-up visit to Australia from 28 November to 5 December 2016 to gather first-hand information on the situation of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance in the country.

“During my visit, I will pay special attention to the situation of historically discriminated groups including indigenous populations, persons of African descent, migrants and other vulnerable groups in Australia,” Mr. Ruteere said.

“I will also assess the current trends, manifestations and scope of racism, and follow-up upon the recommendations made in 2001 by the first UN Special Rapporteur on racism, Glèlè-Ahanhanzo,” he noted.

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Australian Government must re-build trust of civil society – UN human rights expert

CANBERRA / GENEVA (18 October 2016) – United Nations independent expert Michel Forst today called on the Government of Australia to urgently dispel civil society’s growing concerns about the combined ‘chilling effect’ of its recent laws, policies and actions constraining the rights of human rights defenders.

“I was astonished to observe mounting evidence of a range of cumulative measures that have concurrently levied enormous pressure on Australian civil society,” said the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders at the end of his first fact-finding visit* to the country.

Recognizing Australia’s traditional safeguards of constitutional democracy, rule of law and free media, Mr Forst noted that his initial expectation from his official visit was to “encounter only laudable implementation of the State’s obligations under international human rights laws, aimed at ensuring a safe and enabling environment for human rights defenders.”

Instead, the expert found a number of detrimental measures which include a growing body of statutory laws, both at the federal and state levels, constraining the rights of defenders. “They have ranged from intensifying secrecy laws to proliferating anti-protest laws, from the stifling Border Force Act to the ‘Standing’ bill shrinking environmental access to courts,” Mr. Forst specified.

“Those laws have not only accentuated the disparity between Government’s declared commitments at the international forums and their implementation within the country,” he noted. “They have also aggravated the situation following the drastic defunding of peak bodies by the Government, following their advocacy or litigation on such topical issues as immigration, security, environment and land rights protection.”

In his preliminary observations, the expert noted that Community Legal Centres are facing nearly one third of their budget cut nationally, and that Environmental Defenders Offices and the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples have completely been defunded by the Federal Government. And those that continue receiving funds have to abide by the so-called ‘gagging’ clauses in their funding agreements, instructing them against ‘lobbying’ the Governments or to ‘engage in public campaigns’.

“In addition, I was astounded to observe what has become frequent public vilification of rights defenders by senior government officials, in a seeming attempt to discredit, intimidate and discourage them from their legitimate work. The media and business actors have contributed to stigmatization,” the Special Rapporteur warned. “Environmentalists, whistleblowers, trade unionists and individuals like doctors, teachers, and lawyers protecting the rights of refugees have borne the brunt of the verbal attacks.”

“Even the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission, Professor Gillian Triggs, faced Government’s intimidation and public questioning her integrity, impartiality and judgement, after the Commission’s inquiry into the child harm in immigration detention,” the expert said.

Mr. Forst noted that “the Australian Government has historically made commendable efforts in pursuit of its human rights obligations, so it is unfortunate that the combination of the detrimental laws and practices by the Government has recently instilled a ‘chilling effect’ on the Australian civil society.”

“This situation can be reversed and improved. The Government should start re-building confidence of human rights defenders,” he said. “For that purpose, I urge the Government to consider adopting a national action plan on human rights, through meaningful consultation with civil society.”

The UN Special Rapporteur expressed his readiness for further constructive dialogue to identify ways to help ensure enabling environment for human rights defenders in Australia.

During his two-week visit, at the invitation of the Government, the expert met with vast range of federal and state officials, members of the parliament and judiciary, statutory bodies, as well as human rights defenders and representatives of civil society, media and business.

Mr. Forst will present a final report with his findings and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in 2017.

(*) Check the Special Rapporteur’s full end-of-mission statement:
2016-10-18_australia_sr-hrd-statement-final

Human Rights Defenders: UN Special Rapporteur to Probe their current situation in Australia

GENEVA / CANBERRA (30 September 2016) – United Nations Special Rapporteur Michel Forst will visit Australia from 4 to 18 October 2016 to assess the overall environment for human rights defenders and civil society in the country.

“Experience has taught us that human rights defenders are critical to sustaining a democratic society and strengthening the rule of law,” the expert said. “The visit is a fertile opportunity for me to consult the vibrant Australian civil society about their situation and to have a focused dialogue with the Government on ways and means to support the important work of rights defenders in the country.”

The independent expert, with the global mandate from the UN Human Rights Council to assess the promotion and protection of defenders, will gather first-hand evidence on potential challenges facing civil society organisations in Australia and explore possible actions that can help enable the environment for human rights defenders.

“I look forward to the dialogue with the Government and civil society organisations to identify concrete ways of empowering human rights defenders and supporting their vital and legitimate work,” Mr. Forst said.

During the two-week visit, at the invitation of the Australian Government, the Special Rapporteur will meet with both federal and state level officials, parliamentarians, various rights commissioners and ombudsman, as well as human rights defenders and a broad range of civil society representatives from various parts of the country.

The rights expert will visit Melbourne (3-4 Oct), Sydney (5-6 Oct), Hobart (7-9 Oct), Brisbane (12-13 Oct), Darwin (14-15 Oct) and Canberra (10-11 Oct and 16-18 Oct).

The Special Rapporteur will share his preliminary findings and recommendations at a press conference on Tuesday, 18 October 2016, at 11.30 am, at the

UN Information Centre, Level 1, 7 National Circuit, Barton, ACT 2600 Australia.

Access to the press conference is limited to journalists. 

The Special Rapporteur’s final report will be presented to the UN Human Rights Council in a future session.