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Summary of UPR recommendations and responses

Tuesday 28 May, 2013

The Australian Government  accepted in full or in part over 90 percent of recommendations made by other Governments in Australia's first Universal Periodic Review process. The Commission will report regularly on progress in  implementation of these commitments, which will also be examined at Australia's next UPR apprearance in 2016. 


International obligations

Ratify OPCAT and establish a National Preventive Mechanism

(Recommendations 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
Response: Accepted. The Australian Government is working with States and Territories to take the necessary steps towards ratifying the Optional Protocol.

Ratify / consider ratifying Enforced  Disappearances and and Migrant Workers Conventions

(Recommendations 7, 8, 9, 10) 

Response: Accepted in part. Australia will consider signing and ratifying the for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (CED), but views existing protections in place for migrant workers as adequate and does not intend to become a party to the International Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers (ICRMW).

Ratify / consider ratifying the ILO Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention (ILO 169)

(Recommendations 11, 12)

Response: Accepted in part. Australia will consider ratification.

Withdraw / consider withdrawing reservations 

(Recommendations 13, 14, 15, 16)

Response: Accepted in part. Australia will systematically review its reservations to human rights treaties, having regard to whether reservations remain necessary.

Domestic implementation

Bring domestic law and practice into line with international obligations

(Recommendation 17)

Response: Accepted: Australian Government practice is to satisfy itself that legislation and policies necessary to implement a treaty are in place before Australia becomes bound by it.

Incorporate human rights obligations into domestic law

(Recommendations 18- 21)

Response: Accepted in part. The Australian Government incorporates international obligations into domestic law to the extent considered necessary, noting that some obligations are reflected in policy. Measures introduced under Australia’s Human Rights Framework will require that a statement of compatibility with Australia’s human rights obligations is provided for all new federal legislation.

Introduce a Human Rights Act

(Recommendation 22)

Response: Rejected: The Australian Government considers that existing mechanisms, together with new requirements under Australia’s Human Rights Framework, provide for the protection and promotion of human rights. It does not intend to introduce a Human Rights Act.

Provide adequate resources for the Australian Human Rights Commission

(Recommendation 27)

Response: Accepted.

Follow up on implementation of recommendations by human rights mechanisms

(Recommendation 35)

Response: Accepted

Adopt new National Human Rights Action Plan

(recommendation 30)

Response: Accepted

Equality and non-discrimination

Nationwide enforcement and implementation of discrimination law

(Recommendation 23)

Response: Accepted

Address all prohibited grounds of discrimination in consolidated law

(Recommendations 42- 45)

Response: Accepted

Introduce national protectoni against discrimination based on sexual orientation

(Recommendations 66 - 68) 

Monitor racially motivated violence

(Recommendation 57)

Response: Accepted.

Enhance human rights education in the school curriculum 

(Recommendations 57, 58

Response: Accepted.

Enhance measures to prevent discrimination against miniroties and promote multiculturalism and social inclusion

(Recommendations 59 - 65)

Response: Accepted. Australia’s new multicultural policy was launched in February 2011. It includes a National Anti-Racism Partnership and Strategy, the establishment of the Australia Multicultural Council, a ‘multicultural ambassadors’ program and establishment of a Multicultural Youth Sports Partnership Program.

Relationship recognition

(Recommendation: UK) 

Response: Accepted.  The Australian Government will continue to support a nationally consistent framework for relationship recognition that would need to be implemented by States and Territories.

Amendment of Marriage Act to provide for and recognise same sex marriages 

(Recommendation 70)

Response: Rejected. The Australian Government does not intend to amend the Marriage Act 1961. The Australian Government will continue to support a nationally consistent framework for relationship recognition that would need to be implemented by States and Territories.

Civil and political rights

Prevent extradition where there is a danger of the death penalty

(Recommendation 34)

Response: accepted. The Australian Government considers that provisions of the Extradition Act 1988, regarding surrender where the offence for which extradition is sought is punishable by the death penalty, are consistent with Australia’s international obligations.

Legislate to ensure human treatment of prisoners

(Recommendation 71) 

Response: Accept.  States and Territories are responsible for the management and operation of prisons and consider that existing legislation and policies ensure the humane treatment of prisoners. States and Territories will continue to deliver corrective services in accordance with the Standard Guidelines for Corrections in Australia which comply with the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners.

Prohibit all corporal punishment

(Recommendation 75)

Response: Rejected. While Australia has programs in place to protect children against family violence, and laws against assault, it remains lawful for parents in all States and Territories to use reasonable corporal punishment to discipline their children.

Ensure assistance for victims of violence 

(Recommendation 82)

Response: Accepted. The Australian, State and Territory governments will continue to provide services to victims of violence including counselling and, where appropriate, financial assistance through victims of crime compensation schemes.

Work with countries in the region to deal with irregular migration and human trafficking bearing human rights in mind

(Recommendations 83-86

Response: Accept. Australia is committed to the Bali Process as the principal forum on people smuggling and trafficking in the region

Increase efforts to prosecute human trafficking offenders

(Recommendation 87)

Response: Accepted. : The Australian Government is reviewing its people trafficking and slavery offences to ensure that law enforcement has the best tools available to investigate and prosecute perpetrators.

Ensure effective and independent investigation of police use of force and deaths in custody

(Recommendations 88 - 91)

Response: Accepted. A range of oversight mechanisms exists to ensure scrutiny of police use of force, misconduct or police related deaths in Australia. The Australian Government will continue to address Indigenous incarceration and deaths in custody, including by funding prevention, diversion and rehabilitation programs. States and Territories will continue to implement programs aimed at preventing Indigenous deaths in custody. All deaths in custody are independently investigated by State and Territory Coroners courts and recommendations are considered by State and Territory governments. Australia has a National Deaths in Custody Program to monitor all deaths.

Address overrepresentation of indigenous people in custody

(Recommendations 90, 93)

Response: Accepted. The Australian Government will continue to address over-representation of Indigenous people in prison, including by funding Indigenous-specific Legal Services (see recommendation 92) and diversion and recidivism programs. States and Territories have a range of programs in place to address this issue.

Increase legal services and interpreting for indigenous communities

(Recommendations 92-93)

Response: Accepted. The Australian Government has increased funding by 14.5% for Indigenous-specific legal services over 2010-14. It will continue to work with States and Territories to build the capacity of Indigenous language interpreter services

Investigate and redress allegations of torture in counter-terrorism measures

(Recommendation 136)

Response: Accepted. The Australian Government recently strengthened its legislative prohibition on torture. Statutory victims of crime compensation schemes operate in all States and Territories. Australia’s legal system provides for individuals to challenge actions and decisions of Government authorities. The Australian Government may also provide discretionary financial assistance.

Ensure compatibility of anti-terrorism laws with human rights

(Recommendations 137-140)

Response: Accepted. The Australian Government has undertaken comprehensive independent and parliamentary committee reviews of national security and counter-terrorism legislation. In April 2011, the Government appointed a new National Security Monitor to review the operation, effectiveness and implications of Australia’s counter-terrorism and national security legislation, and report to the Prime Minister and the Parliament.

Economic, social and cultural rights

Develop comprehensive proverty reduction and social inclusion strategy integrating ESC rights

Response: Accepted in part. The Australian Government’s social inclusion agenda promotes economic, social and cultural rights, including by reducing disadvantage and increasing social, civic and economic participation

Remove restrictions on the right to strike

(Recommendation 100)

Accepted in part: The Australian Government is committed to reintroducing legislation to abolish the Australian Building and Construction Commission and remove a range of industry-specific regulations. The Government considers that provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 in relation to collective bargaining and industrial action are consistent with Australia’s international obligations, and achieve the right balance between the interests of Australian employees, employers and their representatives.

New and emerging rights

Bring development assistance to 0.7% of GDP

(Recommendation 135)

Response: accepted. The Australian Government has committed to increasing aid to 0.5% of Gross National Income by 2015-16. As economic and fiscal conditions permit, the Government will then progressively increase Australia’s official development assistance until it reaches 0.7% of GNI.

Rights based approach to climate change policy

(Recommendation 31) 

Response: Accepted in part. Australia is committed to taking action to address climate change in accordance with its international commitments. This will positively impact on the continued ability to enjoy human rights. Human rights impacts will be considered as part of policy approaches to address all impacts of climate change.

Rights of the child

Establish a National Children's Commissioner to monitor implementation of the CRC

(Recommendations 28, 29)

Accepted in part: The Government is currently exploring a possible role for a national children's rights commissioner

Migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers

Honour obligations and consider implementing UNHCR and human rights body recommendations

(Recommendations 38, 121, 122)

Response: Accepted. The Australian Government is committed to providing protection to refugees consistent with its international obligations.

Ensure that the principle of non-refoulement is respected

(Recommendations124, 125)

Response: Accepted. The Australian Government does not forcibly return persons where to do so would be in breach of non-refoulement obligations under the Refugees Convention or relevant international human rights treaties.

Ensure the processing of asylum seekers’ claims in accordance with the UN Refugee Convention and that they are detained only when strictly necessary

(Recommendation 123)

 Response: accepted. Australian Government policy is that asylum seekers are only placed in immigration detention if they fall within the following groups: unauthorised arrivals (for health, identity and security checks); unlawful non-citizens presenting unacceptable risks to the community; and unlawful non-citizens repeatedly refusing to comply with visa conditions.

Repeal mandatory detention under the Migration Act

(Recommendations 126, 132)

Response: Rejected. The Australian Government considers mandatory detention an essential component of strong border control, which manages risks to the community. Mandatory detention is based on unauthorised arrival and not on individuals seeking asylum. Immigration detention policy and the operation of detention facilities in Australia is subject to close scrutiny from both domestic and international bodies.

Limit detention to the shortest time reasonably necessary

(Recommendation 127)

Response: accepted. Mandatory detention is based on unauthorised arrival and not on individuals seeking asylum. Indefinite or otherwise arbitrary detention is not acceptable and the length and conditions of detention are subject to regular review.

Ensure that no children are held in detention on the basis of their migratory status and that special protection and assistance is provided to unaccompanied children

(Recommendation 129)
Accepted in part: Since October 2010, the Australian Government has relocated significant numbers of unaccompanied minors and vulnerable family groups from immigration detention facilities into community-based accommodation, while their immigration status is resolved. In limited circumstances, children may still be accommodated in low-security facilities within the immigration detention network. The Government aims to relocate half of all children in immigration detention facilities to community-based accommodation by the end of June 2011.

Take efficient measures to improve the harsh conditions of custody centres in particular for minorities, migrants and asylum seekers

(Recommendation 130)
Accepted: Australian Government policy is that people in immigration detention are treated fairly and reasonably and that conditions of detention ensure their inherent dignity. Care is taken to ensure that people in immigration detention are not subjected to harsh conditions, are treated with respect and dignity and are provided with a safe and secure environment.

Consider alternatives to the detention of irregular migrants and asylum seekers, limit the length of detentions, ensure access to legal and health assistance and uphold its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations

(Recommendation 131)
Accepted in part: See recommendations 126 and 132, 127 and 129. All persons in immigration detention have the right to request and receive consular access at any time without delay, and have access to appropriate health care commensurate with care available to the broader Australian community.

Ensure all irregular migrants have equal access to and protection under Australian law

Recommendation 133
Rejected: There is some differentiation in the treatment of persons who arrive, or remain, in an irregular manner. Consistent with Australia’s international obligations, all refugee determinations are assessed against the Refugees Convention through a process that provides procedural fairness and access to independent merits and judicial review

Rights of Indigenous peoples

Reform the Native Title Act 1993, amending strict requirements which can prevent the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from exercising the right to access and control their traditional lands and take part in cultural life

(Recommendation 102)
Accepted in part: The Australian Government continually reviews the operation of the native title system through practical, considered and targeted reforms. Legislation provides for Indigenous Australians to access, and to perform cultural activities on, their traditional lands through statutory regimes and cultural heritage laws.

Institute a formal reconciliation process leading to an agreement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
(Recommendation 103)

Accepted in part: The Australian Government is committed to the process of reconciliation between Indigenous and other Australians, but does not intend to enter into a formal agreement. See recommendation 110.

Continue  the process of constitutional reform in order to better recognize the rights of indigenous peoples

(Recommendations 104, 105, 107)
Accepted: The Australian Government is committed to pursuing recognition of Indigenous peoples in the Australian Constitution and has appointed an Expert Panel to develop options and lead a wide-ranging national public consultation and engagement program.

Take further steps to ensure the implementation of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

(Recommendation 106)
Accepted in part: The Australian Government supports promotion of and respect for the principles in the Declaration. The Australian Government has committed funding in support of the establishment and early operation of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples.

Include in its national norms recognition and adequate protection of the culture, values and spiritual and religious practices of indigenous peoples

(Recommendation 108)
Accepted: Where appropriate in law and in policy, the Australian Government will continue to recognise and protect the culture and heritage of Indigenous peoples.

Promote the inclusion and participation of indigenous peoples and Torres Strait Islanders in any process or decision-making that may affect their interests

(Recommendation 109)
Accepted: The Australian Government recognises the importance of engaging in good faith consultation with Indigenous peoples in relation to decisions that affect them. See recommendation 110.

Strengthen efforts and take effective measures with the aim of ensuring enjoyment of all rights for indigenous people, including participation in decision-making bodies at all levels

(Recommendation 110)
Accepted: The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples will provide a central mechanism with which government, the corporate and community sectors can engage and partner on reform initiatives.

Ensure that its legislation allows for processes of consultations in all actions affecting indigenous peoples

(Recommendation 111)

Accepted: The Australian Government recognises the importance of engaging in good faith consultation with Indigenous peoples in relation to decisions that affect them. No legislative barriers to consultation have been identified.

Carry out, in consultation with the communities concerned, a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of actions and strategies aimed at improving socio-economic conditions of indigenous peoples and if necessary correct these actions

(Recommendation 118)

Accepted: The Council of Australian Governments Reform Council will provide a comprehensive report each year on progress against relevant targets.

Rights of persons with disabilities

Prohibit non-therapeutic sterilisation without consent

(Recommendation 39)

Response: Accepted in part. The Australian Government considers the ‘best interests’ test as articulated and applied in Australia is consistent with Australia’s international obligations. In response to concerns raised internationally and domestically, the Attorney-General intends to initiate further discussions with State and Territory counterparts.

Implement National Disability Strategy

(Recommendatons 40, 41)

Response: Accept

Rights of women

Intensify efforts against gender discrimination

(Recommendations 47 - 54)

Response: accepted

Strengthen the Sex Discrimination Act

(Recommendation 52)

Response: Accepted. Legislation to strengthen the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 was passed in May 2011.

Adopt targets of 40 percent representation of women on public and private sector boards

(Recommendation 55)

Accepted in part: The Australian Government has committed to achieving 40% representation of women on public sector boards and will continue to work with the private sector to achieve gender balance in private sector leadership ranks and forums.

Effective measures against violence against women

(Recommendations 72-81)

Response: Accepted. The National Plan for Violence Against Women and their Children is a 12-year agreement between Australian, State and Territory governments, including an outcome that ‘Indigenous Communities are Strengthened’.

Security for women and children

(Recommendations 73, 74)

Response: Accepted: States and Territories have in place legislation to criminalise violent conduct and sexual assault together with mechanisms to prosecute and punish perpetrators. The Australian Government has introduced legislation to prioritise the safety of children in family law proceedings and communicate that family violence and child abuse are unacceptable

Monitor pay equity and establish a comprehensive child care strategy

(Recommendation 99)

Accepted in part: The Australian Government will continue to progress policies to redress gender pay inequity and implement early childhood education and care reforms.


Continue to share human rights experience regionally and internationally 

(Recommendation 141)

Response: Accepted.

Continue consultation with civil society in a follow-up to Australia's UPR 

(Recommendation 143)

Response: Accepted