Australia human rights watchdog creates model human rights act amid alleged government breaches News
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Australia human rights watchdog creates model human rights act amid alleged government breaches

The Australian Human Rights Commission Wednesday renewed its call for Australia to adopt its own national human rights act, releasing a position paper detailing what the act might include.

Stating that Australia is the only liberal democracy in the world that does not have a national act or charter of rights that explains what people’s basic rights are and how they can be protected, the Australian Human Rights Commission is calling for a model that would “create legal protections for the human rights of all Australians, and ways to seek justice if people’s rights are breached in some way.”

The position paper states that Australia’s current human rights protection is “a patchwork legal framework of human rights protection. The rights that are protected are located in scattered pieces of legislation, the Constitution and the common law. It is incomplete and piecemeal.”

The paper states that the introduced legal framework should:

  1. Protect human rights;
  2. Prevent violations of human rights; and
  3. Provide effective relief for breaches of human rights.

Australia has faced several human rights criticisms recently, including concerns over the treatment of children in Banksia Hill detention centre and calls for a Royal Commission to investigate the treatment of detained refugees in Nauru and Papua New Guinea.

Award-winning author and refugee advocate Behrouz Boochani, who was detained on Manus Island for six years after fleeing Iran, recently stated: “Forty people have been killed on Manus Island and Nauru, hundreds of people have been damaged” and Australia had a “right to know” what happened in offshore and onshore detention.

Meanwhile in November, a 500-people-strong class action lawsuit against the state of Western Australia was launched on behalf of detainees in Banksia Hills, citing human rights breaches against children detained in the facility.

The Australian Human Rights Commission said “the key function of the Human Rights Act will be to coherently implement Australia’s international obligations domestically, and to reflect and codify fundamental common law rights. It would provide the ‘bedrock of rights’ in Australian law.” This includes rights derived from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR).