27/02/2011 The NT Intervention and the UN Universal Periodic Review of Australia 2011

* UN Universal Periodic Review of Australia 2011
* WCC Statement on the Situation of Indigenous Peoples of Australia
* Background to the Northern Territory (NT) Intervention


– Special Compilations

Background info:
Human Rights Law Resource Centre:
“Australia will be reviewed under the Universal Periodic
Review (UPR) on 27 January 2011. The UPR is a mechanism
of the UN Human Rights Council which reviews the human
rights records of all 192 United Nations Member States.
The UPR provides a significant opportunity for the
Australian Government to improve the protection and
promotion of human rights and to fulfil its international
legal obligations. … “

NGO Delegation Updates (16 Feb 2011):
Human Rights Law Resource Centre:

Stop the Intervention:
Universal Periodic Review of Australia 2011

– General info:


– Draft Report of the Working Group (3 Feb 2011)


– Excerpt from the Joint NGO Submission (July 2010)


“15. Northern Territory Intervention:
The “Northern Territory Emergency Response” intervention
into Aboriginal communities (NTER) suspends the operation
of Australia’s race discrimination legislation and involves
a range of draconian measures targeted directly at
Aboriginal communities. Recent legislative amendments do
not repeal the racially discriminatory aspects of the NTER
and continue to raise significant human rights concerns.
Australia should amend the NTER to remove its
discriminatory elements and ensure compliance with
international human rights. The recommendations in the
Little Children are Sacred report should also be fully

– Excerpt from the Joint NGO Coalition Fact Sheet 7


“Northern Territory Emergency Response:

Suggested Question

What action has Australia taken to address the
discriminatory nature of the Northern Territory
Emergency Response?


The Northern Territory Emergency Response (NTER) was
introduced to address reported child abuse in the Northern
Territory (NT), yet actively discriminates against
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and involves
the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth).
The NTER is comprised of a comprehensive suite of measures
of extraordinary scope and gravity that impact upon almost
every aspect of the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples in the NT. The measures range from those
that impact upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
peoples individually, including income quarantining, liquor
restrictions and other discriminatory policies that bring
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples into contact
with the criminal justice system, control of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander organisations, assets and land by
government employees, and the undermining of land rights
and the rights of traditional owners. The NTER violates
the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
to be free from racial discrimination and does not allow
collective self-determination, social security, freedom,
dignity, individual autonomy in regards to family and other
matters, privacy, land tenure and property, due process and
cultural integrity.

The NTER applies across whole Aboriginal communities
despite individual behaviour and therefore racially
vilifies and stigmatises Aboriginal and Torres Strait
Islander peoples. Despite recent amendments to widen the
application of compulsory welfare quarantining to
non-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in
the NT, the NTER still disproportionately affects
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples due to the
high population of Aboriginal peoples in the NT and high
incidence of welfare dependence. The discrimination evident
in the NTER forms part of a wider framework of systemic
racism against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Proposed Recommendation

That Australia
(1) roll back the NTER in consultation with Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples;
(2) initiate a process of constitutional reform to
recognise and better protect the rights of Aboriginal and
Torres Strait Islander peoples, including freedom from
discrimination and equality before the law;
(3) review all policies and legislation in order to
identify and eliminate structural discrimination against
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples; and
(4) grant Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal
Services and other representative bodies the standing to
commence legal proceedings on behalf of aggrieved
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples collectively.”

– Excerpt from the submission by the Australian Human Rights Commission


“Recommendations by the Australian Human Rights Commission
for Australia’s UPR appearance …

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples …

The Commission recommends that the Northern Territory
Emergency Response (or intervention) be conducted in a
manner that is fully consistent with Australia’s human
rights obligations and be rigorously monitored.”

– Excerpt from the NGO Report on the UPR Session


“Dialogue with Countries

In the time available, 50 countries had the opportunity to
ask questions of the Australian Government, with close to
150 recommendations being made in total. A summary of
these recommendations by the 17 thematic priorities
identified by the NGO coalition is set out below. …

7. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples

While states were aware that the Racial Discrimination Act
had recently been reinstated to apply to the Northern
Territory emergency response they were not convinced that
the continuing administrative measures were in compliance
with Australia’s international human rights obligations.
Noting earlier reports received from the UN Committee on
the Elimination of Racial Discrimination a number of States
called for a review of the procedures and the laws applying
to the Northern Territory intervention. One State proposed
that the government should refer to the guidelines
developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission and
consult with the local Aboriginal people before any further
policy proposals are implemented in the Northern Territory.
Another State noted that the lands of the Aboriginal people
were being wrongly taken under lease by the government in
exchange for housing and basic services.

Almost all recommendations called for greater powers to the
Aboriginal people in decision making. …

The States making recommendations on Aboriginal and Torres
Strait Islander issues included Austria, Belgium, Bolivia,
Bosnia, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, France, Ghana,
Guatemala, Indonesia, Jordan, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco,
Norway, Russia, Slovenia and United Kingdom.”

– Excerpt from the Press Release
of Sunday, 23 January 2011


““Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples experience
unconscionable exclusion and disadvantage in all areas of
life,” said Ben Schokman of the Human Rights Law Resource
Centre. “In a highly developed democracy it is a national
shame that Indigenous peoples are imprisoned at a rate of
over 20 times the national average and live on average 13
to 17 years less.” Mr Schokman added that “the Northern
Territory Intervention, imposed with minimal consultation
and in a manner incompatible with the Racial Discrimination
Act, is symptomatic of the systemic racism that many
Aboriginal and Islander Australians confront.””

– Excerpt from Advance Questions Released
of Thursday, 20 January 2011


“Today in Geneva, a number of countries submitted Advance
Questions to Australia ahead of its UPR appearance next
Thursday. Those countries include some of Australia’s
closest allies and global human rights leaders, including
the United Kingdom, Sweden, the Netherlands and Denmark.

In total, Australia has been asked 30 questions in advance,
including in relation to: …
* the severe disadvantage and discrimination experienced
by Indigenous Australians, including under the NT
Intervention; “

– Excerpt from Further Advance Questions Released
of Tuesday, 25 January 2011


“Australia has received further Advance Questions about its
human rights record ahead of its Universal Periodic Review
examination in Geneva on Thursday. …

Slovenia is particularly forthright in its questions,
asking in reference to the NT Intervention, ”Is it true
that State-funded essential services are only available to
Aboriginal communities if a community agrees to hand over
control of their property for a fixed amount of time?”

Slovenia has also asked whether Australia is ”in breach of
it’s obligation” under the Refugees Convention,
particularly in relation to detention and the expulsion of
failed asylum seekers to possible death, torture or persecution.”


World Council of Churches:
Statement on the Situation of Indigenous Peoples of Australia

WCC: http://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/central-committee/geneva-2011/report-on-public-issues/statement-on-the-situation-of-indigenous-peoples-of-australia.html
Indigenous Peoples:

22 Feb 11:

“7. While there was no dispute that the NT needed a
significant influx of resources and programs, and it
was acknowledged that there had been many years
of neglect by government, there were many
concerning aspects of the “Intervention”. …

8. Additionally, many aspects of the “Intervention” were
discriminatory and the government found it necessary to
suspend aspects of the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) in
order to pass the necessary legislation to implement the
“Intervention”. This meant that nobody had any redress to
complain about the discriminatory aspects of it. …

9. The “Intervention” policies brought much shame to
Aboriginal Peoples. The nature of the policies and much of
the discussion at the time implied that they were the
cause of their own disadvantage. At a practical level the
“Intervention” had a severe impact on day to day life. …

10. Many human rights advocates, church groups and
communities themselves have spoken out against the
“Intervention” but not all the criticism has been domestic.
Australia has come under international scrutiny of the
situation for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander
Peoples. …

11. The Committee on the Elimination of Racial
Discrimination (CERD) has also commented on the
“Intervention” …

12. The “Living Letters” team reported that in every place
they visited they were told that life had not improved
under the “Intervention” and that it had in fact
deteriorated. …

The WCC Central Committee, meeting in Geneva
16-22 February, 2011, therefore: …

2. Urges the Australian government to end the
“Intervention” and instead to engage in proper
consultation and negotiation processes which are
genuinely inclusive of Aboriginal Peoples, which
will better empower and enable them to identify
their own aspirations, issues of concern and which
will involve their full participation in creating
and implementing solutions; “


Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
Northern Territory National Emergency Response

‘concerned Australians’:

Defending Indigenous Rights:

Intervention walk-off’s Blog:

IRAG (Intervention Rollback Action Group):

Jobs with Justice:

STICS (Stop the Intervention Collective Sydney):

WGAR (Working Group for Aboriginal Rights):

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