Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

UN Human Rights Council – 22nd Session
Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the Special Rapporteur on Torture
4 March 2013


Australia thanks the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders and the Special Rapporteur on Torture for their reports.

Australia strongly opposes the use of torture, or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, by any country and in any circumstances. We note the Special Rapporteur on Torture’s detailed exploration of the relatively recent phenomenon of the conceptualisation of abuses in health-care settings as amounting to torture and ill-treatment. We will study the report and its recommendations in this area carefully.

Australia thanks the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders for her report and for highlighting the unique role of National Human Rights Institutions as human rights defenders. We reaffirm our strong and continuing commitment to supporting the work of National Human Rights Institutions and guaranteeing the rights of human rights defenders. The protection of human rights defenders as strong, impartial institutions is paramount to the promotion and protection of human rights – work which should be able to be completed without fear of violence, threats, intimidation, discrimination or reprisal.

In Australia, our National Human Rights Institution plays a leading role in the promotion and protection of human rights by making human rights values part of everyday life and language; by empowering all people to understand and exercise their human rights; by working with individuals, community, business and government to inspire action; and by keeping government accountable to national and international human rights standards.

Our National Human Rights Institution is mandated to receive and take action on discrimination and human rights complaints; to ensure human rights compliance with domestic and international human rights obligations; to undertake human rights education and public awareness; and to work with the government on policy and legislative development.

We would be interested in the Special Rapporteur’s views and guidance on dealing with situations of employees of National Human Rights Institutions who require protection as human rights defenders, and how complaints from these actors can be handled impartially and with due attention.