UPR Review of Australia’s Human Rights Record

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Australia’s human rights record took place virtually in Geneva in January. ERI’s joint submission focussed on children in detention and the age of criminal responsibility, the rights of indigenous people, asylum seekers and refugees, the impact of climate change, trafficking in persons and the need for a charter of human rights.
A total of 122 UN member States made recommendations to Australia. Even though the speaking time available to each state was less than one minute, almost all of the issues mentioned in ERI’s joint submission were the subject of recommendations.
As in previous reviews, Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers and refugees was again a major focus of concern, with more than forty countries making a range of recommendations such as urging Australia to ensure its treatment of asylum seekers and refugees complied with its obligations under international law; the ending of offshore processing, indefinite detention, the refoulment of refugees and the detention of children, and removing barriers to employment, education and health care for refugees and asylum seekers.
Almost thirty countries urged Australia to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 14 years in line with ERI’s recommendation, and indigenous issues were another major focus of recommendations. Six recommendations urged more action on climate change and nine addressed the issue of human trafficking.
The UPR review of Saint Lucia also took place in January. A wide range of issues were addressed, prominent among them being calls for Saint Lucia to ratify various UN conventions to which it is not a party, abolish the death penalty and address violence against women.
The governments of Australia and Saint Lucia will indicate which recommendations it will accept prior to a Human Rights Council session later this year.

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