Amnesty Report criticises Australian Human Rights Record

DATE: 13 MAY 2011

Amnesty International has criticized Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers and indigenous issues in its 2011 World Report, which has been released today. The chapter on Australia highlights the Federal government’s refugee policy and its impact on asylum seekers with mandatory, long term detention and poor conditions in detention facilities putting a large number of asylum seeker detainees at risk of self-harm or mental illness.

This follows criticism of the Australian Government’s Malaysia solution in which 800 asylum seekers would be sent to Malaysia in return for 4000 refugees. Malaysia is not a signatory to the United Nations Convention on Refugees and detention centres in the country are overcrowded.

The report also criticizes Australia’s failure to implement a Human Rights Act and the continued racial discrimination of indigenous communities stating that whilst the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 in the Northern Territory in 2010 has seen a partial return to human rights protection, it does not provide remedies for ongoing discrimination.

However the report does acknowledge the efforts the government has made to develop a National Plan to reduce violence against women and children. Amnesty International Australia’s Director Claire Mallinson stated that “Australia should be showing real leadership on protecting and defending human rights in the region.”

The 2011 World Report also highlights the impact that social media has on growing demands for freedom and justice, particularly in the Middle East and the continued repression of activists in the Asia-Pacific through intimidation and imprisonment including Liu Xiaobo. Amnesty International Secretary General Salil Shetty says that the “the international community must seize on the opportunity for change and ensure that 2011 is not a false dawn for human rights.”

Amnesty International’s full report can be found here.