24 March 2005


The United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has met in Geneva this month. As part of its deliberations its committee of experts has examined Australia’s record of compliance with the UN convention to which Australia signed up in the 1970’s. The Committee received comments and submissions from the Australian government and various non-government organizations.

Whilst expressing satisfaction with the progress in some key areas and welcoming a number of other positive developments the committee expressed concern on a range of issues.

These included proposed legislative changes which were seen to potentially undermine the integrity, independence and efficiency of the operation of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in Australia, the abolition of ATSIC and the associated reduction in opportunity for indigenous people to exercise decision making in respect to their own affairs, the continued disadvantage experienced by indigenous Australians in relation to health, education, employment and native title claims, the effect of counter-terrorism legislation on Arab and Muslim Australians, the biased, negative portrayal of asylum seekers in the media and government policy in regard to asylum seekers particularly mandatory detention and the operation of the temporary protection visa system.

Further information including the text of the concluding observations of the CERD can be found at the Rights Australia website.

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