UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Her Excellency Dr Michelle Bachelet AC, has urged Australia to adopt a human rights charter.
Dr Bachelet is in the country as the keynote speaker at the Australian Human Rights Commission’s Free and Equal; A National Conversation on Human Rights.
“Australians rely on a patchwork of laws that address different forms of discrimination,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Her Excellency Dr Michelle Bachelet AC.
“As a result, the model is dispute-focused and remedial, rather than system-focused and proactive… Australians would benefit greatly from a comprehensive human rights law to systematically protect all their rights.”
Dr Bachelet, who fled Chile in the 1970s and sought asylum in Australia, also reflected on her experiences and compared them with current Commonwealth Government policies and treatment of asylum seekers and refugees.
“I know that Australia’s asylum and migration policies have become entrenched over the years by successive governments. But I strongly believe that we are at a point now where it is time to roll back these policies, or at least mitigate their worst effects,” said Dr Bachelet.
Dr Bachelet also commented on the issues of Indigenous incarceration, offshore processing, and the Medevac laws.
The Free and Equal conference is part of the Commission’s National Conversation project to explore ways of bolstering and future proofing Australia’s human rights frameworks and legislation to reflect our country’s shared and strong sense of rights and freedoms.
The event is part of a four-day program for the Commission’s National Conversation project, the outcome of which will be provided in a report to the Government in 2020. Australia undergoes its third Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council next year.