Australia’s commitment to the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, is set to go under the microscope.
The UN review requires a “visiting body” to inspect facilities, such as prisons and detention centres to assess the safety and well-being of people detained.
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Strip searches, solitary confinement (including prisons’ use of quarantine during the pandemic), unfair disciplinary proceedings, excessive use of force and corrupt conduct will all be placed in the spotlight.
Furthermore, the Committee Against Torture has been urged to apply pressure on the Andrews and Perrottet governments whose jurisdictions are lagging behind the rest of the nation in implementing OPCAT.
Meantime, Indigenous organisations are calling on the Federal Government to address some of the human rights issues and abuses that occur in Australian correction centres and elsewhere, including raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14.
The coalition of services including Change the Record, the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services and the Human Rights Law Centre also want to ban the use of spit hoods, review the use of police dogs and the number of people with disabilities who are locked up.
“We have put forward clear recommendations for the Albanese Government to show leadership and clean up the human rights mess the former government has left behind,” Change the Record executive officer Sophie Trevitt told the Age.
The coalition hopes to elevate the rights of people detained, ensuring they are treated with dignity and humanity.
“Independent oversight and greater transparency of what goes on behind bars is also urgently needed, with regular unannounced visits that shine a light on mistreatment critical in helping to prevent human rights abuses in the first place,” the group said in its submission.
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6 October 2022
Hit News Team