9 February 2017
ACHRE was represented by Vice President, Pera Wells, at the annual DFAT consultation on human rights with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) which took place at the National Museum in Canberra on Thursday 9 February. The event attracted representatives of NGOs from all over Australia, including a significant number of Aboriginal people.
Both the Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop and the Attorney-General, George Brandis, gave short speeches. A highlight was the Attorney-General’s announcement that the Government proposed to ratify the Optional Protocol of the Torture Convention, hopefully done in December following consultations with the States.
The discussions took place under the Chatham House rule that comments made by participants cannot be attributed to them in a report. The themes were wide-ranging and included concerns about the violation of human rights of people being detained on Nauru and Manus Island, the high rates of incarceration of indigenous people in Australia, the human rights of children as well as the elderly, and the value of engaging business corporations in the promotion and protection of human rights.
The focus of the consultation was primarily on the Government’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council – Australia is running against France and Spain in a vote that will take place in New York in October this year.
DFAT has issued a list of pledges to support its election campaign which may be amended in light of the consultations with NGOs – attached is the initial draft Pledges – draft. If you have suggestions to make, please send them to email@example.com by the end of February, cc to us. ACHRE has already made a recommendation that Human Rights Education be added.
The other main focus of the consultations was on the DFAT White Paper which is now being prepared. Please see the link to the website and feel free to make a submission – http://dfat.gov.au/whitepaper/index.html