Tuesday 10 November 2015
UNITED NATIONS: Serious Concerns about human rights violations against Australians with disability
The United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) has raised serious concerns about human rights violations against Australians with disability during its review of Australia’s human rights record overnight in Geneva.
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) allowed member States of the HRC to assess how Australia is tracking against its human rights obligations.
The UPR provides a platform for Australian NGOs to update the international community on the human rights situation in Australia. The UPR Disability Coordination Group has been working as part of the 200 strong UPR NGO Coalition to raise priority human rights issues for people with disability, including forced sterilisation, indefinite detention, involuntary treatment, restrictive practices, legal capacity and violence in institutions.
Members of the UPR Disability Coordination Group – the Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA), Advocacy for Inclusion (AFI) and the Australian Centre for Disability Law (ACDL) – were in Geneva for the UPR of Australia.
Rosemary Kayess, ACDL Chairperson said: “There are many critical human rights issues in Australia, including those for people with disability. We are pleased that key disability recommendations were made by numerous HRC member States,”
“These recommendations focused on the prohibition of forced sterilisation, ending violence against people with disability, including the high prevalence of violence against women and children with disability, and addressing the indefinite detention of people with disability in the criminal justice system. We implore the Australian Government to accept and implement these recommendations.”
Therese Sands, Co-CEO People with Disability Australia (PWDA) representing ACDA said: “Australia’s approach to forced sterilisation is still a serious concern to the international community. It is time that Australia prohibited this practice,”
“Violence against people with disability – particularly those in institutional and residential settings – is an urgent, unaddressed national crisis. It has a devastating impact on some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people in our communities, particularly women and children with disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with disability and people with disability from non-English speaking and culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. It occurs because of failures in legislation, policy and service systems, and it is time for Australia to now act decisively.”
Damian Griffis, CEO First Peoples Disability Network (FPDN) representing ACDA said: “We welcome Australia’s commitment to address the indefinite detention of people with disability in the criminal justice system who are deemed unfit to plead.”
“The over-incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people is a national shame. More and more data is now to coming to light that confirms the anecdotal evidence we receive relating to the high rates of incarceration of Aboriginal people with disability. The indefinite detention of Indigenous people with disability, without conviction, is a clear example of this.”
The review report will be handed down on Thursday 12 November and the Australian Government will then have an opportunity to respond.
Note to editors:
Disability Fact Sheets
Joint NGO Media Release
Australian Cross Disability Alliance (ACDA) – http://crossdisabilityalliance.org.au
Advocacy for Inclusion (AFI) – http://www.advocacyforinclusion.org
Australian Centre for Disability Law (ACDL) – http://disabilitylaw.org.au
UPR info – http://www.upr-info.org/en/review/Australia
UN Human Rights – http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/UPRMain.aspx