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

 

Anti-Protest Bill Contravenes Australia’s Human Rights

Tasmania Anti-Protest Bill Contravenes Australia’s Human Rights Obligations – UN Experts


Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of peacful assembly and of association Maina Kiai. UN Photo/Jean-Marc Ferré

9 September 2014 – A group of independent United Nations experts have urged lawmakers in Tasmania to refrain from adopting legislation against protests that disrupt businesses, saying the proposed bill would contravene Australia’s human rights obligations.

Among other things, the experts said that the legislation could silence legitimate and lawful protests, is disproportionate, and targets specific issues such as the environment.

“If passed, the law would almost certainly run afoul of Australia’s human rights obligations, which Tasmania is also obliged to uphold. State governments in Australia need to ensure the legislation they adopt is in line with the country’s international obligations under international human rights law,” they said in a news release.

The Tasmanian government argues the law is necessary to prevent businesses being disrupted by protesters, especially as Tasmania has been the focus of debate and demonstrations on environmental concerns.

The bill, which is now before Tasmania’s Upper House, prohibits protests, whether on private or public property, that hinder access to business premises or disrupt business operations.

It imposes mandatory penalties, including fines up to 100,000 Australian dollars ($93,000) for organizations and up to 10,000 Australian dollars ($9,300) for individuals. Repeat offenders face a mandatory minimum prison sentence of three months.

“The law itself and the penalties imposed are disproportionate and unnecessary in balancing the rights to free expression and peaceful assembly and the government’s interests in preserving economic or business interests,” said David Kaye, the recently appointed Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression.

“The bill would have the chilling effect of silencing dissenters and outlawing speech protected by international human rights law.”

Maina Kiai, the Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, noted that in democratic societies, protests are key to raising awareness about human rights as well as political and social concerns, and of holding not just governments, but also corporations accountable. “The bill, if adopted, would impede that very function,” he stated.

Michel Forst, the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, expressed concern that the law would curtail human rights defenders’ legitimate right to express their opinions, especially when these are at odds with the government or industry.

“Moreover, by listing specific industries, such as forestry, agriculture, or mining, it specifically targets environmentalists; this is shocking,” he added.

The experts, who report to the UN Human Rights Council, noted that in March 2014, Australia co-sponsored Council resolution 25/38 that recognizes that peaceful protests can make a positive contribution to the development and strengthening of democracy, and urges States to facilitate peaceful protests by providing access to public space.

“Given this, the experts pressed the government and legislature of Tasmania to be consistent with Australia’s international commitments and withdraw the bill,” stated the press release.

Independent experts are appointed by the Geneva-based Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.

ENDS


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
World Headlines

 

ITUC: Nobel Prize In Economics Explodes Minimum Wage And Jobs Myth

The prize was awarded to David Card, Joshua Angrist and Guido Imbens for real-world research in the 1990s that demonstrated, empirically, that the idea touted by conservative economists that higher minimum wages mean fewer jobs is not based on fact... More>>

Science Media Centre: New South Wales Opens Up For Fully-vaccinated – Aus SMC Expert Reaction
Sydney has partially eased Covid-19 restrictions for fully-vaccinated individuals after NSW reached its target of 70 per cent of the population double-dosed. The Australian Science Media Centre has asked experts about the possible risks of the country opening up again...More>>


Nobel Peace Prize: Journalists Who ‘Speak Truth To Power’ Recognized

Two campaigning journalists were awarded the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, which UN Secretary-General António Guterres said was recognition that a free press is “essential for peace, justice, sustainable development and human rights – and the cornerstone for building fair and impartial institutions”...
More>>


Focus On: UN SDGs


UN: With Clock Ticking, Sustainable Transport Key To Global Goals
From electric cars and buses to zero-carbon producing energy sources, new and emerging technologies along with innovative policy changes, are critical for combating climate change. But to be effective, they must ensure that transport strategies benefit everyone, including the poorest... More>>


COP26: 7 Climate Action Highlights To Remember

A September to remember, a pivotal month for climate action commitments. From the United Nations General Assembly week to the final pre-COP meeting, last month was an important time to build momentum... More>>


UN: Global Leaders Set To Act To Increase Energy Access While Reducing Emissions At First UN Energy Summit In 40 Years

Significant new commitments for financing clean energy, increasing renewables and improving access to electricity are expected to be announced on 24 September at the UN High-level Dialogue on Energy... More>>