Racial profiling, violence against women and income management: the human rights wrap up

By Eva Csik

Police accused of racial profiling

Concerns are mounting over African and Muslim communities being unfairly targeted by police in street patrols.

Tamar Hopkins, a lawyer from the Flemington and Kensington Legal Centre in Melbourne’s inner-west, says that the police may actually be breaking the law themselves if they are in fact racial profiling. Sydney based lawyer Adam Houda says the situation in Sydney is quite the same, accusing some police of being “out of control.”

Ms Hopkins has said the that the Flemington and Kensington Legal Centre has handled approximately 200 complaints of police brutaliy. Ms Hopkins has also said that many younger African men are having to change their behaviour in order to avoid constant police attention. Many of the young men avoid going out in groups of more than two, while one boy who goes running has said he has had to stop running and walk if he sees police around.

Report released on violence against women in Australia

The Australian Human Rights Commission has released the Australian study tour report: Visit of the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women which is said to reinforce the need to implement Australia’s National Plan to Reduce Violence Against Women and their Children.

The study “demonstrated the pervasive nature of violence, its various forms and its impact on individual lives, families, communities and societies at large,” said Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Elizabeth Broderick.

Income management scheme introduced in remote South Australian Aboriginal communities

A $3.8 million federal scheme consists of both voluntary and forced quarantining of welfare payments for Aboriginal people on the APY Lands.

Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin says the “money will be spent on making sure that we do have Centrelink who are able to support people on the lands, also support for the stores and the system of BasicsCard.

Andrea Mason from the NPY women’s council has welcomed the scheme but wants it to extend from those receiving welfare to people in work.

Human rights concerns of offshore processing

The Australian Human Rights Commission has expressed concerns that the human rights of asylum seeker being processed offshore in Nauru will not be adequately protected.

Following the arrival of the first plane load of asylum seekers in Nauru, Commision President Professor Gillian Triggs has said “it is not yet clear how the processing arrangements will operate in Nauru so it is not possible to assess how consistent these arrangements will be with Australia’s human rights obligations.

It’s essential that a pre-transfer risk and vulnerability assessment be conducted for each individual, and that these consider the specific circumstances and vulnerabilities of each and every individual,” Ms Triggs said.

National report on illicit drugs recommends decriminalisation

A national report Alternatives to Prohibition: Illicit drugs: How we can stop killing and criminalising young Australians has recommended decriminalising ecstasy and cannabis under a government-controlled program.

One of the proposals outlined in the report suggests the establishment of a government supplier for cannabis and ecstasy, available to people over 16, who will also undertake counselling and participate in treatment programs.

The Federal Government has said it will consider holding a national summit on drugs, but at this stage it does not support the decriminalisation of illicit drugs.