Australia-Indigenous Peoples & Asylum-Seekers Policies, by Ambassador mo

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Australia’s long-standing commitment to human rights is at odds with treatment and attitudes regarding indigenous Australians and asylum-seekers. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the country is failing to protect certain groups and urged it to rethink its policies towards indigenous peoples and asylum-seekers. “The issues of indigenous disadvantage and the treatment of asylum-seekers need to be tackled through a human rights-based approach, not driven by short-term electoral advantage and political goals,” (From Navi Pilay Press Conference in Canberra and UN News Centre). The High Commissioner noted that her criticisms are more likely to draw attention –“ I know Australia’s media, like media in many countries, will be more interested in criticism than praise.” However, she made a point of praising Australia’s policies and implementation on issues ranging from women’s rights to people with disabilities. Ms. Pillay noted that the treatment of Australia’s indigenous peoples and asylum-seekers are the two main human rights issues which are a constant source of friction in the country and of attention abroad. The High Commissioner also welcomed the advances the Government has made in addressing some of the disadvantages faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, including the significant investment being made to improve their health and education. “However, I believe these efforts are being undermined by policies that fail to recognize the right to self-determination for indigenous people,” she stated, adding that this is a key element of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Voting Against the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Australia, along with Canada, New Zealand and the United States, originally voted against the declaration when it was adopted by the General Assembly in September 2007 after more than two decades of debate. Since, they have subsequently endorsed the non-binding text that sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues. The High Commissioner offered: “I welcome the National Apology and Australia’s formal recognition of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, along with the significant investment being made to improve Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and education. However, I believe these efforts are being undermined by policies that fail to recognise the right to self-determination for indigenous people, which is a key element of the UN Declaration. “In my discussions with Aboriginal people, I could sense the deep hurt and pain that they have suffered because of government policies that are imposed on them. I also saw Aboriginal people making great efforts to improve their communities, but noted that their efforts are often stifled by inappropriate and inflexible policies that fail to empower the most effective, local solutions. “I would urge a fundamental rethink of the measures being taken under the Northern Territory Emergency Response. There should be a major effort to ensure not just consultation with the communities concerned in any future measures, but also their consent and active participation. Such a course of action would be in line with the UN Declaration.” (Canberra Statement) Treatment of Migrants - The other major concern highlighted by the High Commissioner is Australia’s mandatory immigration detention regime, by which thousands of men, women and children are held for prolonged periods of time, and which has for many years “cast a shadow” over the country’s human rights record. “During my visit to immigration detention centres in Darwin, I saw the grim despondency of asylum seekers, waiting for months, or in some cases well over a year, to be released, These people, who arrive with such relief and hope after experiencing trauma in their home countries, should not be treated in this way.” Stereotyping in Political Rhetoric Ms. Pillay said the consequence of the constant political refrain that Australia is being “flooded” by people who are “queue jumpers” has resulted in a stigmatization of an entire group of people, irrespective of where they have come from or what dangers they may have fled. “I urge the leaders of all Australia’s political parties to take a principled and courageous stand to break this ingrained political habit of demonizing asylum-seekers.” Related Reports: ---“ “Exploitation, Subjugations, & Domination – Indigenous Forum” - ---“Indigenous Forum-UN” - ---“Indigenous Forum at UN Rights to Functional Reality” - By Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey FaceBook at “Diplomatically Incorrect” Twitter - DiplomaticallyX

About the author


"Voice of the Global Citizen"- Diplomatically Incorrect ( provide film and written reports on issues reflecting diplomatic discourse and the global citizen. Ambassador Muhamed Sacirbey (@MuhamedSacirbey) is former Foreign Minister Ambassador of Bosnia & Herzegovina at the United Nations. "Mo" is also signatory of the Rome Conference/Treaty establishing the International…

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