In the next episode of our government’s joust with the UN committee process Paul Osborne (from AAP) reported yesterday that Australia has told the UN it stands by the country's mandatory detention system for asylum seekers, saying it is just and fair.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock today tabled in Parliament Australia's latest official response to the UN convention against torture and other cruel treatment. Every UN member that has signed the convention is obliged to report every few years on the fairness of its legal system and treatment of citizens, prisoners and asylum seekers.
Article 3 of the convention says no country should expel, return or extradite a person to another country "where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture" or which shows a "consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights".
The UN Committee against Torture asked Australia in 2000 to address a number of concerns including independent review of ministerial decisions on cases under Article 3. But the Government said in its report released today that it stood by its asylum seeker policy.
"Given existing review mechanisms and processes, the government does not consider an additional level of review, such as that suggested by the committee, either necessary or appropriate," the report said.
"Furthermore, the Government maintains that current policy and practice is not inconsistent with Australia's obligations under the convention."
And so this tragic farce continues to be played out under the gaze of key watchdog bodies. I expect UN interventions will continue to be little more than an irritant to Howard & co whilst they strut the world stage with their Texan buddy.