#Human Rights
Professor James Anaya, UN Human Rights Rapporteur

Professor James Anaya, United Nations Human Rights Rapporteur, will be visiting Australia during the second half of August.

After his visit, he will be providing the UN Human Rights Council with a report on his assessment of human rights in Australia. The Australian government will be expected to respond.

This is a unique opportunity for us to highlight our concerns about the government's treatment of Aboriginal Australians.

Our government is now planning to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory which we welcome, but we are concerned that their proposed changes will still not comply adequately human rights principles.

Our government is conducting inadequate consultations with a view to ensuring Aboriginal people accept the imposition of 'special measures' on those living in the 73 prescribed areas of the Northern Territory.

Under human rights principles people have the right to free, prior and informed consent in relation to any such measures. The extent to which our government's consultation process constitutes such consent is highly dubious.

Help us ensure that Professor Anaya addresses our concerns by adding your name to this open letter.

Dear Professor Anaya,

Many Australians, Aboriginal and Non-Aboriginal, are hopeful of your support in communicating the following views to the Australian government.

  • There is strong support for the reinstatement of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA).
  • 'Special measures' in their current and proposed form in the Northern Territory, Australia, are discriminatory and opposed to by very many Aboriginal people.
  • 'Special measures' were imposed on Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory in 2007. These ‘special measures’ are racist and would have been illegal had the RDA not been suspended.
  • The current ‘consultations’ process based on the ‘Futures Directions - discussion paper’ is flawed and any findings must be disregarded. The document is complex, biased towards preferred government policy, written in the English language and presented without the regular use of interpreters. Consultations are not transparent and no records of meetings are available.
  • Government must re-commit to the recently articulated principle that ‘one size does NOT fit all’, and provide choice to individuals and communities, including the choice to accept or reject any or all of the special measures.
  • Re-engagement in genuine negotiation with Aboriginal elders and their representatives must be commenced as soon as possible. The process must be transparent and independent facilitators should be engaged for the purpose. In this regard attention should be paid to the statement from the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Ecumenical Commission:
  • As Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Christians, representing many different denominations and backgrounds, we are united against the NT Intervention in its current form” and asks government to, ‘Recognise the right of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples to negotiate agreements with governments. We stress negotiation as distinct from consulting with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples about the implementation of policy and programs which have already been developed and decided on. (4 June 2009)

Professor Anaya, we welcome you to Australia and we call on you to encourage our government to respect and recognise the views of all Aboriginal people through genuine negotiation and respect for human rights. Consultations in their current form are manipulative and are aimed at maintaining racist legislation.

Yours sincerely,

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The Reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act in the Northern Territory petition to Professor James Anaya, UN Human Rights Rapporteur was written by ANTaR and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition.