UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Dubravka Šimonović, urged [press release] the government of Australia on Friday to include all women in the fight to stop violence against women. According to Šimonović, violence against women in Australia is at a pandemic level. Šimonović welcomed the implementation of some measures, such as the development of data collection on women killings, policy reforms and new initiatives like the Our Watch project. Yet, according to Šimonović, there are still gaps in the protection of women:
Women’s human rights in Australia are protected in an incomplete, patchwork way in different States and Territories. The rights set out in the international human rights conventions like the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) [text] are not directly applicable and not fully incorporated into the national legal system, and the consequences are that those rights are not legally enforceable. There is a need to harmonize the legal framework with CEDAW and to strengthen the integration of human rights into laws and policies at every level of Government.
Šimonović also noted that the current policies do not afford benefit to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women who who face class-based discrimination making them more likely to experience severe violence than other women. Šimonović asked the government to widen its National Action [text, PDF] plans on violence against all women, to increase funding to provide affordable housing for women and to adopt specific empowerment measures.
Australia has also faced criticism for its treatment of refugees. In February a petition was filed [JURIST report] in the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] challenging Australia’s offshore detention of asylum seekers alleging it constituted a human rights violation. In August Amnesty International accused Australia of using the island of Nauru as an “open-air prison” [JURIST report] to prevent the immigration of asylum seekers. In December a UN human rights expert urged [JURIST report] Australia to end racial discrimination within its country. In November Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbell [official website] announced an agreement [JURIST report] with the US to resettle refugees currently held in detention centers on the South Pacific islands of Nauru and Manus.