14 August 2007


The recent example of the application of the anti-terror laws in the case of Dr Mahommed Haneef following on from the five year imprisonment without trial of David Hicks, the wrongful detention of people such as Cornelia Rau and the illegal deportation of the Australian citizen Vivian Solon raise questions about the safeguarding of human rights in Australia that have long been taken for granted.

Increasingly concerns are being raised about the vulnerability of fundamental rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Australia.

Rights such as the right to a fair trial, the right to the presumption of innocence, the right to be free from arbitrary arrest and imprisonment, the right to freedom from torture and cruel and degrading treatment, the right to privacy and the right to seek and enjoy asylum in another country are all seen to be under threat given that Australia is the only western country without a national human rights act or equivalent.

Australia has no mechanism to ensure that the United Nations Conventions to which it is signatory are incorporated into domestic law. Up until now the good intentions of the government have been assumed.

Recent examples such as those mentioned above have given new impetus to the campaign for the introduction of a Human Rights Act in Australia similar to that which was introduced in the United Kingdom in 1998.

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