Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
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Human Rights Council - 25th Regular Session

Item 2
Interactive Dialogue with the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Statement by Australia

6 March 2014

Australia thanks the High Commissioner for her report and for her continued efforts to strengthen human rights around the world.

The High Commissioner’s statement today referred to Australia’s offshore processing and settlement arrangements with Nauru and Papua New Guinea. Australia established these arrangements to reduce the incentive for asylum seekers to engage people smugglers and risk their lives on dangerous boat journeys to Australia. The Governments of Nauru and PNG have provided assurances to Australia that all persons transferred will be treated with dignity and respect and in accordance with relevant human rights standards. The Governments of Australia and PNG are currently investigating the recent violence on Manus Island and have agreed to establish a Joint Ministerial Forum to oversee implementation of the processing and settlement arrangement. Australia will continue to support PNG to develop capability in governance, infrastructure, operational arrangements and services.

Australia welcomes the High Commissioner’s work on violence against women. Australia has a zero tolerance approach to violence against women and recognises that its elimination is fundamental to ensuring security and prosperity. This is a focus for our newly appointed Ambassador for Women and Girls.

We welcome the OHCHR’s efforts to enable indigenous peoples to contribute to the 2014 World Conference on Indigenous Peoples. Australia has consistently supported indigenous involvement in the Conference. We look forward to working to ensure that the World Conference can improve outcomes for all indigenous peoples.

Australia welcomes the OHCHR’s commitment to improving the lives of people with disability. Australia is internationally recognised for its programs to assist people with disability in developing countries. Our National Disability Strategy helps ensure that the principles underpinning the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are incorporated into policies affecting people with disability.

Australia advocates strongly for freedom of expression and for non-discrimination globally. We welcome the OHCHR’s ‘Free and Equal’ campaign to promote respect for the rights of LGBT persons. Australia has advocated against Russian legislation which criminalises the ‘promotion’ of homosexuality and has urged the governments of Uganda and Nigeria to uphold the human rights of LGBT people in accordance with their obligations under international law. Australia places great importance on a free press and takes issue with restrictions and harassment against journalists carrying out their normal activities, including cases of detention of journalists, as has happened in recent months in Egypt.

We support the High Commissioner’s call for an independent investigation into the human rights violations which took place in Ukraine over recent months, and particularly in the last few days of the Euro-Maidan protests.