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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 1079


Senator LUDWIG (QueenslandMinister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and Minister Assisting on Queensland Floods Recovery) (18:24): It has been clearly conveyed to the Greens but, just to put it beyond doubt, the government does not support incorporating 'cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment' as a mandatory ground for refusing extradition or mutual assistance. You have summarised the position of the Commonwealth.

'Cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment' is not defined in the Convention Against Torture. The scope of the phrase is unclear under current international jurisprudence. Concerns about dealing with the substance of the matter and concerns about cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment can be addressed through the minister's general discretion to refuse extradition or mutual assistance. The government has undertaken to table an addendum to the explanatory memorandum to the bill, which will make it clear that it is at the minister's general discretion to refuse extradition or assistance permits regarding any relevant consideration, including the treatment of a person following surrender. Further, serious forms of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment are likely to be addressed through the statutory requirements for the minister to consider torture as a mandatory ground of refusal.

The Commonwealth remains of the view that the inclusion of a specific statutory requirement to also consider 'cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment' is likely in this legislation to result in substantial legislative uncertainty. I heard the arguments you put, but the government remains of its view. We seem to be poles apart on that. I accept that you will not move; however, we will not accept your amendment.

Question negatived.