Residents from Australia’s Torres Strait Islands plan to file a human rights complaint against the Australia government for failing to address the impacts of climate change.
The residents will be represented by a UK environmental non-profit organization, ClientEarth who issued a press release Sunday detailing the complaint to be lodged with the UN Human Rights Committee. The allegation is that the Australia government’s failure to mitigate the impacts of climate change violates legal obligations to the Torres Strait Islanders who are rising sea levels impacting burial grounds and cultural sites. The First Nations people who live on the island believe this impact on cultural heritage is a violation of on the UN’s International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The residents are requesting for additional funding to protect against climate change impacts like seawalls to protect sacred sites and physical property, a phasing out of coal use, and commitment to reducing emissions.
This is the first legal complaint brought against the government of Australia for human rights violations related to climate change. The committee’s decision is non-binding on sovereign nations, but could place pressure on the Australian government to take action.