Distorting our human rights obligations

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is currently reviewing the scope and effectiveness of Australia’s 2010 Human Rights framework and the National Human Rights Action Plan. It called for submissions in relation to whether the Australian Parliament should enact a federal Human Rights Act and if so, what elements it should include.

The Human Rights Law Alliance’s submission to the inquiry provides a detailed critique of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s proposed model.

Fundamentally, we argue that the model is significantly flawed because it adopts International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) rights inaccurately, and unjustly downplays the protection that the ICCPR mandates for certain rights, including freedom of religion. In so doing, it does a disservice, not only to Australians of faith, but to all Australians and their rights to freedom of thought, speech, and conscience.

The AHRC model, purporting to enact and incorporate treaty rights guaranteed by the ICCPR however deviates radically from those rights. In addition, the model doesn't make the necessary legal provisions to effectively implement important rights that currently don’t have sufficient legal protection in Australian law, such as freedom of religion.

As such, HRLA recommends the entire human rights model be abandoned.

You can read the HRLA submission in full here.