Today, Australia’s human rights performance over the last 5 years will come under scrutiny by the United Nations Human Rights Council through the Universal Periodic Review.
The process occurs every five years and allows nations around the world to ask the Australian Government questions and review its human rights record.
Simon Henderson, Head of Policy at Save the Children said the review was a test for Australia and a spotlight would be shone on the Federal Government’s record on youth justice and excessive incarceration of young Indigenous Australians.
“It is very unfortunate that many of the child rights issues that Australia was facing in 2015 remain the same in 2021,” said Mr Henderson.
“Australia should use the Universal Periodic Review as an opportunity to finally make progress on many long outstanding child rights issues, working in close collaboration with civil society organisations.
“We should not end up in the same position again in 2025, writing the same words, expressing the same concerns.
“The Federal Government has failed to combat the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth in Australian prisons and out of home care.
“They have failed to put in place laws to ensure immigration detention for children is a last resort.
“They have failed to implement comprehensive measures to protect the rights of children under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Through this review, Australia has provided it’s own self-assessment to the Human Rights Council and countries have had the opportunity to provide questions in advance.
“When it comes to youth justice and the detention of children, the Australian Government’s national report is noticeably lacking in detail,” said Mr Henderson.
“This has been picked up by other countries, including Germany, who have asked pointed questions about raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14 years.
“There is no attempt to describe the significant breaches of children’s rights in Australia’s juvenile justice systems and youth detention facilities.”
Australia’s appearance is happening today, at 7pm AEDT (9am Geneva). It is scheduled for 3.5 hours and can be watched live on UN TV webtv.un.org. The appearance will also be recorded and available to watch later.
Save the Children is an Advisory Committee member of the Australia UPR Coalition, a group of more than 200 leading Australian civil society organisations, who have undertaken advocacy on Australia’s Third Cycle UPR, including preparing Australia’s Human Rights Scorecard: Australia’s 2020 United Nations UPR NGO Coalition Report. The report was lodged with the United Nations Human Rights Council in July 2020.
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