The Universal Periodic Review is associated with reviewing the human rights records of all the Member States of the United Nations periodically. Based on the idea that all countries and Member States should be treated equally, it is one of the giant steps taken by the Human Rights Council. This review gives an opportunity wherein all the countries and the Member States can give a declaration of what they have done so that the human rights in their areas are improvised, and the people can enjoy human rights to the fullest along with overcoming the challenges. The Universal Periodic Review includes sharing the best human rights practices across the globe, and there is no other mechanism that exists at this point beyond this.
The UPR was established in the year 2006 by the Human Rights Council in the General Assembly Resolution 60/251. Through this resolution, it was made mandatory by the Human Rights Council to make sure that a universal periodic review is undertaken, and objective and reliable information are dissipated. So that the States can reach a point where there would be no violation of human rights, and all shall have access to the objectives of the Human Rights Council. One of the basic elements of this Resolution was the Universal Periodic Review, and this was strengthened by the further resolutions namely 16/21 and 17/119. The mechanism of the cycle and the modalities were established by these two cycles and resolutions.
In this paper, the second round of Universal Periodic Review in Australia shall be analyzed, and the processes, issues, questions, controversies, criticisms and responses of the same shall be discussed.
Second Round of UPR in Australia
The State of Australia has its foundation by the rule of law and respects and gives values to the rights and freedom of every individual who is in Australia. Australia also boasts of a long tradition that is committed to supporting human rights on an international basisThus the national values of Australia are reflected in this and also the fact that protecting and promoting human rights is vital to the achievement of peace, security, freedom and dignity. It is also important in the Australian territory is profounded. Australia has shown consistent progress towards addressing the issues of human rights and also recognizing that a continuous effort is required so that human rights standards can be maintained and existing challenges can be mitigated. Australia welcomed the review of Human Rights by the UPR. The working group consisted of 47 Member States and liked other reviews, the review of Australia was assisted by a group of three states called troikas that essentially served as rapporteurs.
Process of the Review
The reviews that are conducted are based on three principal evidentiary documents. These are, firstly, the information that is provided by the state which contains the reports presented by the independent human rights experts and other working groups known as Special Procedures and Treaty Bodies, secondly, the national report provided by the state which is under review and thirdly, the information that is received by the Working Body from other stakeholders like the human rights institutions and other non-governmental organizations.
The review in Australia took place by way of an open discussion or an interactive discussion that was done between Australia and the other Member States of the United Nations. The discussion took place while the Working Group of the UPR was in action. The Several Member States of the United Nations posed questions, commented on the answers given by the delegates of Australia, made recommendations to Australia and so on. The troikas also took the effort of grouping issues and questions that were to be shared with Australia so that it could be ensured that the interactive dialogue that was taking place went on smoothly and orderly in a hassle free manner. During the first cycle, the duration of the review was three hours in the Working Group. In the second cycle, the duration was extended by thirty minutes and the interaction took place for three hours and thirty minutes on the whole.
Issues in the Review
Several issues were discussed during the review that was of importance in the region of Australia. Firstly, the national priorities were discussed by the Working Group in an interactive open discussion.
The Australian Government stated that they had focused on advancing civil and political rights. This included efforts taken by the government for the protection of freedom of speech, religion, and other rights that are protected by the common law. Over the recent years, several efforts have been taken to focus on the matter, and all these efforts were discussed in detail. The government elaborated on the priority of the government that it wanted to ensure economic empowerment for the Australians by way of framed policies that are for upholding economic growth and specifically designed programs so that all the individual groups could be addressed. The appointment of the full-time Human Rights Commissioner by Australia was also discussed and the highlight was given on the civil and political rights issues of the Australian Human Rights Commission.
The Working Group specifically asked whether efforts were taken by the Australian Human Rights Commission to address the issues of the persons who are under some disability
Controversies and Answers
To the disability issue raised, the Commission specifically answered in affirmative and brought the framework of the National Disability Insurance Scheme. The priority set by the Commission to bridge the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians was also discussed and the opportunities are given regarding health facilities, education, and the Commission highlighted employment schemes. They also discussed the efforts taken by the government to improvise on gender equality and reduction of violence against women. The proposed membership of Australia to get a position in the UN Human Rights Council in 2018-2020 was also stated in specific by the government to make sure that convincing replies are given to the questionnaires that were raised in this issue. The Working Group was convinced that Australia had prioritized its focus on freedom of expression, gender equality, capacity building in Australia and good governance in the territory of Australia.
Recognition of Indigenous Australians in the Constitution
The Australian Government has a strong inclination towards upholding the interests of the Indigenous Australians. This has been strengthened by the inclusion of the Indigenous population in the Constitution of Australia, and thus the Australian Constitution has been rightly recognized as the Australia's First Peoples in the world. The indigenous population residing in Australia has been called to be the first inhabitants of the land there, and the referendum in this regard with massive supporting votes clearly indicates the will of the personages as well as the management. It is to make sure that these people are given all their rights and are not made or compelled to face any atrocities.
The question that was raised in this respect was that whether there will be enough funding or not to build up a campaign that can create awareness on the matter and also show support for the cause. The Troikas raised this question.
Controversies and Answers
The Government answered once again in the affirmative and said about the formation of a parliamentary committee that would be engaged in the Constitutional Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and thereby it would build a multi-party support. The agenda of the party would be to talk about particular referendum proposals and thereby identify the steps that would eventually lead to the successful completion of a referendum. The final report in this regard has already been provided by the government to the Parliament in June 2015. The recommendations of the report are in the consideration process by the government
The constitutional system of Australia is federal in nature and such a structure, all the legislative, executive and judicial powers are shared harmoniously between the Government of Australia and the six states along with the two self-governing territories. It has been ensured that human rights are given utmost protection across Australia by a large number of means. The common law in Australia also recognizes and protects the rights and freedoms that are enshrined there. Thus several legal precedents have been created and thus the courts and tribunals have got a basis on which their judicial pronouncements ought to be based. Principles of statutory interpretation have been developed by common law and these work in an integrated approach to protecting the human rights. The courts have made it a point to make sure that parliament does not have any intention to interfere howsoever in the exercise and implementation of the fundamental human rights. In case any ambiguity arises at any point in time, it has been mandated by legislations that the courts should presume that no legislation has been framed in such a way that it becomes inconsistent with the established rules of international law that also includes the international human rights obligations.
The working group asked about the mechanisms in this regard that exist in the federal, state and territory level for enforcement. The domestic legislations were also questioned in this aspect.
Controversies and Answers
The discussing panel explained that mechanisms did exist at the federal, state as well as the territory level which made sure that the government acts consistently with the international obligations that Australia has. The legislative requirement that all the federal legislations are backed with an equal Statement of Compatibility as far as Human Rights in Australia is in question. This process is designed in such a way that all early and present requirements and considerations on human rights are addressed through coercive and persuasive policies as well legislative development. The domestic legislations have also been designed in such a way that they protect human rights. For instance, the government took the example of the anti-discrimination law that prevails across all the jurisdictions. It is also aimed at implementation of the human rights on non-discrimination policies and ensuring equality amongst allFurther, the Privacy Act 1988 was also brought under consideration that took measures to effect the freedom of the population from all sorts of arbitrary or unlawful interference that are made with the privacy of the people In fact, Evidence was also given by the fact that there are two jurisdictions within Australia which have enacted charters upholding Human Rights.
The impossible to miss position of basic human rights in Australia shows up because of an intricate transaction of variables both regular and unmistakable: the customary law premise of the Australian legitimate framework; the elected structure of government. It is the part of the global law and worldwide lawful instruments and the ethnically blended nature of the Australian populace and specifically the position of the Aboriginal individuals
In endeavoring to defeat the shortcomings of acknowledged precedent-based law hypothesis, and of the absence of composed rights insurance in the Australian constitution, contentions are made which endeavor to infer human rights certifications. It is pretty much from the historical backdrop of custom-based law rehearse: the evasion by Parliament of obtuse laws, and the shirking by chairpersons of harsh practices. These contentions have discovered some restricted backing in Australia in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal and the Federal Court, yet Justice Murphy of the High Court has endeavored to raise them to the status of the abrogating legitimate standard. Equity Murphy's perspective has not gone without reservations: the Federal Court has explicitly disassociated itself from it. Such reservations ought to themselves, in any case, be treated with some store, for regardless of the fact that the statement of such standards can't be very much established on precedent-based law point. Thusly, the impact of certain global improvements may loan backing to it, and help with its hypothetical advancement.
Different recorded variables have formed the present rights circumstance. The position of the Aboriginal individuals, both monetary and as far as states of mind of the white lion's share, mirrors a background marked by partiality and abuse. Regardless of the possibility that one expected a complete eagerness on the present white populace to enhance the Aboriginal position, the proceeding with impacts of that history gives tremendous deterrents. Expansive scale migration to Australia some time recently and especially after, the Second World War has created a very blended populace, in spite of the fact that the reasonable larger part (around 66%) still has its ethnic inceptions in the British Isles. These migrations occurred under a plan of government consolation and money related help with request to fill holes in the work market, under which regard for the issue of the human rights and balance of treatment of settlers expanded slowly from 1946 to 1970 through the respective bargains into which Australia entered with nations which partook in the plan
However, in spite of such bargain advancements, and maybe because their more extensive rights ensure just late, or maybe because of they, for the most part, tended to just lawful and administrative separation, or maybe because, where private segregation was secured. Implementation measures were lacking, or maybe because an adequate venture of government assets and vitality was not given to the issue in an automatic manner. This movement design still uncovers itself in rather clear stratifications of chance and riches as indicated by ethnic cause. A further recorded variable, which Australia offers with for all intents and purposes. Each and every other nation is the oppressive treatment of ladies, and it is maybe the ladies' development more than whatever other which, in any event initially (that is, in the late 1960s and mid-1970s), gave the jolt to the constantly developing consideration regarding human rights issues in this nation.
Australia holds a strong record of making sure that all the people living in the territory of Australia have access to the highest standards of protection of civil and political rights. However, one of the issues that have put the nation take a back seat in this regard is the failure of Australia to respect the international standards for the asylum seekers and those who are refugees, and this has taken a heavy toll on Australia and its efforts to uphold the highest standards of human rights. There are certain practices in the country that have particularly taken a step to make sure that human rights are not attained in totality in Australia. For instance, the mandatory detention of the asylum seekers is one such instance. Confinement is just adequate on the off chance that it is brief, completely important, and founded after different choices have been actualized. Satisfactory purposes incorporate to check character; to decide the components on which the case for shelter is based; the insurance of open request; or, if important, in situations where displaced people have decimated archives or utilized fake ones. Confined refuge seekers ought to dependably be educated of their rights – including the privilege to challenge their detainment.
Moreover, offshore processing is not free from all sorts of abuse in Australia, and this is another major violation of the human rights issues in the country. Further, refugee obligations are also outsourced here, and several other countries, in fact, condemn this. Detainment of exiles can keep going for a considerable length of time months or even years while their application advances through the administration. Australia is the main nation in the created world to detain exiles. In different nations, they are by, and large discharged into the group while their application is being handled.
Thus, the United Nations also did the same and no satisfactory answers could be provided by the government of Australia in this regard. The counterterrorism laws framed by the Australian Government are also overly broad and too vague and thus in several instances, it has been seen that the rights of the indigenous population and those with disabilities goes through a major backlash.
Freedom is a major human right, similar to the refuge. When in doubt, confinement of shelter seekers is not adequate. It is especially undesirable when those confined incorporate the extremely powerless — youngsters, single ladies, and individuals with extraordinary medicinal or mental needs, for example, torment casualties. They are not lawbreakers; they have as of now endured extraordinary hardship and imprisoning them isn't right. This has been explained to the government in the meeting. Though no assurance has yet been received whether a stringent policy would be applied or not in this regard, however, the working of the local bodies and the NGOs indicates that this has been taken into consideration, and the policies are being framed to work on this issue.
Furthermore, the government can also think regarding strengthening the application of the human rights legislations among the Indigenous population by educating them about their rights and freedom which they are entitled to access. Only strengthening laws would not suffice unless and until efforts are taken by the government to implement these strengthened laws from the grass root level. If this is not done, then the entire policy would run out to be a wasted effort.
From the above discussion, it can be said that Australia is one of those nations that can boast of upholding the highest standards of human rights. Every policy comes with certain flaws in it. Unless the mistakes are pointed out, none of the governments is strong enough to learn from their mistakes in a short span. The second round of Universal Periodic Review in Australia indicates the efforts that have been given by the government to strengthen the position of human rights in Australia and also making sure that the little fallacies that exist there are addressed from the root. Of course, there are certain areas that could have been worked upon by them and upon receiving the recommendations of the Working Group, the country has already started working on those areas. Thus, it can be said that these integrated efforts of Australia would surely make it one of the leading nations in the world that uphold human rights over the coming few years. Till then, it is expected from the Human Rights Commission to keep a vigilant check on the working of the Federal Government in Australia towards this end.
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