Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


State-Sponsored Racially Discriminatory Measures

Australia: Government Must End State-Sponsored Racially Discriminatory Measures

Slamming decades of failure by Australian governments to address the dire living conditions, disempowerment and discrimination faced by many of the country’s Indigenous peoples, Amnesty International’s Secretary General Irene Khan warned that the government of Prime Minister Rudd must not squander its unique opportunity to right these historic wrongs.

In the latest in a long line of indignities, some 45,000 Aboriginal people are today still subject to state-sponsored racially discriminatory measures, including blanket quarantining of social security payments as a result of the Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER).

“The blunt force of the Intervention’s heavy handed ‘one size fits all’ approach cannot deliver the desired results. The Government will not secure the long term protection of women and children unless there is an integrated human rights solution that empower peoples and engages them to take responsibility for the solutions,” Irene Khan said.

Welcoming the commitment she had received from Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin that the Government would introduce legislation to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory, Irene Khan called on the Government to ensure that it does so in line with Australia’s international obligations not to discriminate against Indigenous peoples.

While noting that grave levels of violence against women and children is the stated rationale for the NTER, Irene Khan emphasised that respect for women and children’s human rights would not be secured without respect for all human rights for all.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

“Indigenous people in remote Aboriginal communities deserve the same respect, safety and protection as does any Australian – but this will not be achieved in a sustained manner under the Emergency Response which is stigmatising and disempowering an already marginalised people and which is in violation of Australia’s international obligations,” said Irene Khan.

As part of her visit to Australia, Amnesty International’s Secretary General visited the Utopia region in central Australia, an impoverished grouping of homeland communities 350 kilometres northeast of Alice Springs.

“For a country which by human development standards is the third most developed in the world and one which has emerged from the global financial crisis comparatively unscathed, such a level of poverty, is inexcusable, unexpected and unacceptable,” said Irene Khan.

“In the heart of this first world I found scenes more reminiscent of the third world. That Indigenous peoples experience human rights violations on a continent of such privilege is not merely disheartening, it is morally outrageous. The moral imperative to eradicate such poverty is no less an imperative on government than to eliminate torture.”

Irene Khan called for a new approach, grounded in a genuine respect for traditional culture and with human rights principles at its core, to tackle the complex problem of the entrenched poverty and discrimination faced by Indigenous peoples in Australia.

“There is a real risk of an enormous opportunity for change being squandered. The government’s apology to the Stolen Generations and other Indigenous Australians along with its support for the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples is a welcome shift from the past. This Government is making a serious financial and political investment but to achieve the returns it wants, it must replace its blunt and blanket policy approaches.”

“The pathway out of poverty for Indigenous people must have the hallmarks of respect for human rights: voice must matter, equality cannot be compromised, security must be delivered on a human scale and active engagement for long term solutions must be made local, personal and perennial."

Amnesty International called on the whole of the government, not just individual Ministries, to develop an integrated approach – an approach that places all human rights – not merely some human rights - at the centre and which allows all human rights to be respected and exercised by Indigenous Australians.

“To fulfil its enormous potential on the regional and global stage, the Rudd Government must make ‘bringing human rights home’ its central goal,” concluded Irene Khan.


© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
World Headlines

UN News: Aid Access Is Key Priority

Among the key issues facing diplomats is securing the release of a reported 199 Israeli hostages, seized during the Hamas raid. “History is watching,” says Emergency Relief Coordinator Martin Griffiths. “This war was started by taking those hostages. Of course, there's a history between Palestinian people and the Israeli people, and I'm not denying any of that. But that act alone lit a fire, which can only be put out with the release of those hostages.” More

Save The Children: Four Earthquakes In a Week Leave Thousands Homeless

Families in western Afghanistan are reeling after a fourth earthquake hit Herat Province, crumbling buildings and forcing people to flee once again, with thousands now living in tents exposed to fierce winds and dust storms. The latest 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit 30 km outside of Herat on Sunday, shattering communities still reeling from strong and shallow aftershocks. More

UN News: Nowhere To Go In Gaza

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said some 1.1M people would be expected to leave northern Gaza and that such a movement would be “impossible” without devastating humanitarian consequences and appeals for the order to be rescinded. The WHO joined the call for Israel to rescind the relocation order, which amounted to a “death sentence” for many. More

Access Now: Telecom Blackout In Gaza An Attack On Human Rights

By October 10, reports indicated that fixed-line internet, mobile data, SMS, telephone, and TV networks are all seriously compromised. With significant and increasing damage to the electrical grid, orders by the Israeli Ministry of Energy to stop supplying electricity and the last remaining power station now out of fuel, many are no longer able to charge devices that are essential to communicate and access information. More


Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.