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Australia to respond to international pressure to raise the age at the UN

The Australian Government is set to front the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva tonight to respond international pressure to lift the bar on human rights.
08 July 2021
More than 30 countries have called on Australia to raise the age of criminal responsibility from 10. 
The response hearing is part of the Universal Periodic Review, which occurs every five years and puts Australia’s human rights record under the spotlight.
Leading child rights organisation Save the Children, the Australian Human Rights Commission and Amnesty will also appear before the UN to speak to Australia’s human rights record.
At the initial hearing on January 20, Australia was grilled on a variety of topics including raising the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to at least 14, Australia’s record on climate change and reducing violence against children. 
Simon Henderson, Head of Policy at Save the Children said if Australia failed to accept the recommendation put forward by more than 30 countries to raise the age of criminal responsibility, it would be viewed as a rejection and abject failure of child rights.
“At the UN hearing earlier this year, 30 countries pressured Australia to stop locking up children as young as 10 and to raise the age of criminal responsibility,” Mr Henderson said.
“The move to raise the age is long overdue. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has been pressuring Australia to raise the age for over 15 years and it is time to take action.
“Australia’s record on youth justice and excessive incarceration of young Indigenous Australians is a shame for our country.
“Australia ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990, but more than 30 years on has still not incorporated it into domestic legislation and policy. This has led to gaps in Australia’s laws and significant ongoing child rights violations.”
Additionally, Australia will respond to seven countries, including Fiji, who called for Australia to take stronger action on climate change. 
“In a review first, seven countries highlighted the need for our governments to take stronger measures to combat climate change,”
Mr Henderson said.  
“The views of children must be taken seriously and acted upon now. 
“Australia should legally require consultation on climate change policies with young people and children.
“The climate crisis is impacting young people now and they want to have a say on how we transition from fossil fuels to a greener future.”

The Australian Government and members of the NGO sector are set to appear before the UN on Thursday 8 July, between 6-9pm AEDT (10am-1pm Geneva). It can be watched live on UN TV at this link. 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. In March, Save the Children made a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department on the UPR outcomes.
For media inquiries contact Anna Jabour on 0403 322 992

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