Human Rights Watch (HRW) qualified as “disillusioned” the state of human rights in Australia, after issuing their annual World report, which document human right practices in more than 90 countries around the world. The HRW showed concern over how far Australia has to go on their policies.

The critic comes regarding the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers, discrimination faced by indigenous Australians and gay and lesbian people who are still not allowed to marry whoever they want, according to a statement made by the HRW.

On the refugee protection matter, Australia’s position has been to undermine and ignore international standards instead of uphold them. The harsh boat turn-back policy they maintain have been previously criticized by many, due to the fact that they return migrant and asylum seekers after the most cursory of screenings.

Australia’s placard at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva © 2015 Human Rights Watch. Photo credit: Human Rights Watch
Australia’s placard at the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva © 2015 Human Rights Watch. Photo credit: Human Rights Watch

Even evidence of sexual and physical abuse of children sent to Nauru has been gathered by independents reviews and a report by the Australian Human Rights Commission. Nauru and Papua New Guinea are where all unwanted migrants are sent to by Australian policy of mandatory detention.

After the allegations, instead of addressing them and ensure safety to asylum seekers and refugees in Australian immigration detention facilities, the government acted on more privacy policy and limited public discussion of the delicate issue.

A law was passed that made it a crime punishable by two years for immigration service providers to disclose the so called “protected information” about migration procedures.

The statement also included the indigenous Australians that remain disproportionately represented in the criminal system, with aboriginal women being the fastest growing prisoners demographic in Australia.

The fact that the nation is looking for a seat at the United Nations Human Rights Council for the 2018-2020 term provides an important opportunity for Australia to address its domestic human rights issues, added the statement.

“Australia is a vibrant democracy with a multi-cultural society and solid history of protecting and promoting human rights values,” said the non-governmental organization as they encourage the nation to return to be the international human rights leader it once were.

What does the HRW recommend?

For starters, the organization addressed as the first element to be amended the government migrant and asylum seekers transfer offshore. They said that they should provide them fair and timely refugee status determination in Australia.

On indigenous rights, they need to intensify its commitment to addressing the underlying causes of gaps in opportunities and outcomes in health, education, housing and employment between Indigenous and non-Indigenous and do more to address the high incarceration rate, the HRW recommended.

As a third and final recommendation, they encouraged Prime Minister Turnbull to deliver on principles he has personally espoused and work with parliament to amend the Marriage Act to remove any legal barriers for same-sex couples to marry.

Apparently, Australia has the public’s support but has dragged its feet discussing plebiscites and referendums.

Source: Human Rights Watch