[JURIST] The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples [official website], Victoria Tauli-Corpuz [official profile], said Monday she was appalled [press release] by the living conditions of Aboriginal Australians following her week-long visit to Australia. According to the report, many Aboriginal people live in “town camps” without access to basic sanitation. Tauli-Corpuz said:
As I have travelled across the country, I have found the prevalence of racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples deeply disturbing. This manifests itself in different ways, ranging from public stereotyped portrayals of them as violent criminals, welfare profiteers and poor parents and to discrimination in the administration of justice.
She was particularly concerned with the number of Aboriginal children imprisoned for petty crimes. Tali-Corpuz stated that while Aboriginal people make up 3 percent of the Australian population, they account for 27 percent of the prison population and 95 percent of the juvenile prison population. “The focus urgently needs to move away from detention and punishment towards rehabilitation,” she said.
Australia’s treatment of Aboriginal people has drawn criticism from the international community. Last month, another UN rapporteur said that Australia’s policies to prevent violence against women do not benefit [JURIST report] Aboriginal women. In December the UN called on [JURIST report] Australia to end all forms of racial discrimination, including against indigenous Australians. Last July Amnesty International said Australia must address [JURIST report] abuse of child prisoners.