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Thursday, 15 September 1983
Page: 958

Question No. 159

Mr Jacobi asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, upon notice, on 17 May 1983:

1. Will he bring up to date the information given by his predecessor in answer to my question No. 4123, part (1) (Hansard, 18 August 1982, pages 557-8) in relation to (a) which trials of dissidents Australian Embassy officials have attended, or attempted to attend, in the Soviet Union, (b) where these trials were held, (c) the date on which these trials were held, (d) in each case (i) the charges and (ii) the sentences, (e) the reasons given for denial of access to Australian officials where applicable and (f) what representatives from other countries attended, or attempted to attend, these trials.

2. Further to his predecessor's answer to question No. 4123, part (2), has the Australian Government supported any subsequent initiatives to support the release of Dr Yuri Orlov or Mr Anatoli Shcharansky.

3. Will he bring up to date the information given by his predecessor in answer to question No. 4123, part (3), in relation to (a) how many family reunions of Soviet citizens who wished to join relatives in Australia occurred in 1982 and ( b) the total number of persons emigrating to Australia from the USSR in 1982.

4. Has the Government considered the establishment, in the Commonwealth Parliament, of a Standing Committee on Human Rights to report on serious violations of human rights in any country, including Australia, in accordance with paragraph 65 of the final chapter of the Report of the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence on Human Rights in the Soviet Union.

Mr Hayden —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

1. Australian Embassy officials have attempted to attend the following trials since January 1983:

(i) (a) Kanevsky, Boris; Geltser, Ilya (b) Moscow (c) 18-19 January 1983 (d) (i ) Section 190-1 (ii) Five years internal exile (Kanevsky); three years suspended sentence (Gelster) (e) 'court full' (f) no representative permitted to attend-UK , USA attempted.

(ii) (a) Yankov, Vadim (b) Moscow (c) 20-21 January 1983 (d) (i) Section 70 (1) (ii) Four years imprisonment plus three years internal exile (e) 'court full' (f ) no representative permitted to attend-USA attempted.

(iii) (a) Senderov, Valery (b) Moscow (c) 28-29 February 1983 (d) (i) Section 70 (1) (ii) Seven years imprisonment plus five years internal exile (e) 'court full' (f) no representative permitted to attend-US, Canada attempted.

(iv) (a) Smirnov, Alexei (b) Moscow (c) 12-13 May 1983 (d) (i) Section 70 (1) ( ii) Six years imprisonment plus four years internal exile (e) 'no places available', 'a pass is needed to enter' (f) no representative permitted to attend-USA, Canada attempted.

2. No representations have been made on behalf of Orlov and Shcharansky since Mr Jacobi's 1982 question.

3. (a) After July of 1982 the previous category of 'family reunion' was expanded to include non-dependent children and siblings. The category was renamed 'family migration'. Under this category 11 Soviet citizens came to join relatives in Australia between July and December of 1982.

(b) the total number of persons emigrating from the USSR to Australia in 1982 was 47.

4. As my predecessor noted in his reply to a similar question put by Mr Jacobi in August 1982, the question of whether a Standing Committee to deal with human rights is to be established by the Parliament is one for that body rather than the Government itself to address.

The broader question of respect for human rights both overseas and within Australia is, however, high on the Government's list of priority concerns. The Government has signalled its heightened interest in the universal protection and promotion of human rights on a number of recent occasions in countries as diverse as the Philippines, Turkey, Uganda, Chile and Poland. In addition to bilateral approaches, Australia's firm commitment to and support for the UN and other multilateral bodies, such as the ILO, seized of human rights questions, will be strengthened under this Government.

In the domestic sphere, the Attorney-General has initiated a review of the role and structure of the Human Rights Commission with a view to increasing the effectiveness of federal human rights machinery.

Members of Parliament play an important role in raising domestic and international human rights questions in both Houses and in existing Parliamentary committees, such as those dealing with Foreign Affairs and Defence . The Government, of course, supports Parliamentary activities aimed at promoting and protecting human rights both within Australia and internationally.