Global Failure of Human Rights Leadership Extends to Australia - Amnesty
24 May 2012 at 11:40 am
Amnesty International Australia National Director Claire Mallinson launches the organisation's report on the state of the world's human rights.
© Amnesty International. Photographer: Hamish Gregory
A new Amnesty International report says evidence of global leadership failure is also apparent in Australia with the Federal Government’s attempts to repackage failed policies of the past.
Amnesty International has launched its 50th review scrutinising the state of the world’s human rights in 153 countries, including Australia.
"Failed leadership was endemic in 2011, people were tortured and ill-treated in at least 101 countries and 21 countries carried out executions. Governments must show consistent leadership on human rights, support justice for all, and protect the powerless and restrain the powerful," National Director of Amnesty International Australia, Claire Mallinson said.
A failure to intervene in Sri Lanka and inaction over crimes against humanity in Syria – one of Russia’s main customers for arms – left the UN Security Council looking redundant as a guardian of global peace.
"The UN meeting to negotiate an Arms Trade Treaty in July will be a vital opportunity for politicians to put people’s lives ahead of self-interest and profit,” Mallinson said.
“Given that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, along with Germany export 74% of the world’s weapons, the Security Council’s legitimacy as protector of global peace is hanging in the balance.
"This is a remarkable opportunity to make the world a safer place and Australia must play a leadership role in ensuring we have a strong Arms Trade Treaty that delivers human rights protection.
“The global leadership failure is also apparent in Australia with the Government’s attempts to repackage failed policies of the past.
“In 2011, refugee policy favoured deterrence, with mandatory, indefinite and remote detention for asylum-seekers arriving by boat.
"Attempts to seal the half-baked Malaysia deal tarnished Australia’s international reputation, with the last minute High Court ruling the ‘solution’ a breach of international law, as refugee rights could not be guaranteed in Malaysia.
"Australia must not outsource its responsibilities – not to Malaysia, not to Nauru and not to Papua New Guinea. This short-term approach undermines Australia’s ability to develop a regional solution and the repackaging of policies is harking back to the grim days of the 'Pacific Solution'.
"Politicians must consider the global circumstances, such as the conflict in Afghanistan, which are forcing mass numbers of people to seek asylum from persecution and violence. In 2011, Australia received less than 3% of the total asylum claims made in the West.
"Both major parties must stop playing politics with people who are fleeing terror and torture and seeking their legal right to protection. They must deliver a principled, consistent and humane approach to upholding refugee rights,” Mallinson said.
The Government continues to violate the rights of Aboriginal Peoples, excluding traditional homelands from essential services and implementing a chain of policies that is further disenfranchising Aboriginal Peoples in the Northern Territory.
"The Stronger Futures Bills are about to be debated in the Senate. If passed, they signal a continuation of a dark era for Aboriginal Peoples in the Northern Territory. Essentially, it’s the Intervention under a new name," Mallinson said.
"An overwhelming majority of affected Aboriginal communities oppose the legislation.
"The Intervention was systematically condemned internationally and this month elders have brought their concerns on Stronger Futures to the UN. We urge Senators not to support these Bills.
"If the Australian Government continues to marginalise and disenfranchise Australia’s First Peoples, if we continue to make closed door deals and outsource our obligations to countries like Malaysia – what hope do we have of purporting to be a human rights leader in the Asia-Pacific region?," Mallinson said.