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Thursday, 21 June 2007
Page: 180


Mr McClelland asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs, in writing, on 31 May 2007:

(1)   What was the outcome of the China-Australia Human Rights Dialogue held in July 2006.

(2)   What steps have been taken by (a) China and (b) Australia, as a result of the dialogue.

(3)   When will the next China-Australia Human Rights Dialogue take place.

(4)   Has the agenda for the next dialogue been determined; if so what is the agenda.


Mr Downer (Minister for Foreign Affairs) —The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:

(1)   The last round of the Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue saw a constructive exchange on human rights issues. Australia raised the full range of our concerns, including freedom of expression, press freedom, religious freedom, treatment of Falun Gong practitioners, the death penalty, re-education through labour, and the situations in Tibet and Xinjiang. The 2006 round of Dialogue saw the inclusion of eight Chinese organisations and direct contact between the Australian Non-Government Organisation community and senior Chinese officials. In addition, Australia and China agreed on activities to be conducted in the 2006/07 financial year under the Human Rights and Technical Cooperation Program, which will total $A2 million in value.

(2)  

(a)   It is not possible to pinpoint specific steps China has taken in the human rights field as a result of the Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue alone. Human rights improvements are often the result of diverse developments and pressures. Australia’s efforts, along with those of like-minded countries, and the contributions of NGOs and individuals in China and abroad, continue to have a cumulative effect in encouraging improvements in human rights in China. Chinese human rights activists have told us that they support human rights dialogues because they maintain international pressure on the Chinese Government. The growth in representation of Chinese agencies in the Dialogue exposes a wide range of Chinese officials to Australia’s concerns about human rights in China, and our approach to human rights issues.

(b)   Following the 2006 Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue, Australia agreed to undertake the following projects in 2006/07 under the Human Rights and Technical Cooperation Program: - Masters level scholarships for two officials from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to study in human rights related disciplines in Australia. - A seminar, to be held in China in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to examine practical measures to promote the application of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). - A seminar, to be held in China in conjunction with the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, to examine procedures and practices which protect the rights of juveniles in the criminal justice system. - A study visit to Australia by the Supreme People’s Procurate to study how Australian agencies, laws, policies and practices combat corruption consistent with the protection and promotion of human rights. - A study visit to Australia, followed by a seminar in China, with the Ministry of Public Security to examine Australia’s practices relating to the rights of detainees. - A workshop to be held in China to share Australian approaches to juvenile justice with a broad range of officials, likely to include members of Juvenile Tribunals, Supreme People’s Court legislative policy officers and officials from the Committee for Internal and Judicial Affairs. - A model United Nations Human Rights Council to be held in China in conjunction with the United Nations Association of China, to debate themes related to the ICESCR and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. - A Human Rights Knowledge Competition, to be published in the China Youth Daily and on its website, to contribute to broader public education program on human rights by the United Nations Association of China. - A study visit to Australia by the Ministry of Justice to examine Australian legislation, policy and programs designed to promote the re-integration of former prisoners in the community. - A study visit to Australia by the Ministry of Civil Affairs to examine the structure of specialist Australian NGOs and their role in the protection of human rights. - A visit by two Australian experts to China to assist the Beijing Legal Aid Office of Rural Migrants in the design and implementation of a training activity for lawyers and administrators providing legal services for rural migrant workers. - A research seminar to be held in China in conjunction with the National Judges College, to share information with a range of officials on the role and involvement of non-judicial actors in Australia’s judicial processes. - A workshop to be held in China on combating domestic violence, with an emphasis on the role of the courts. Participants will include the All China Women’s Federation and local women’s federation, judicial departments, public security bureaus and civil affairs. - A workshop to be held in China to provide representatives of coordination groups on safeguarding women and children’s rights with training on human rights and gender awareness. - A training program in China for family planning officials on applying human rights based approaches in the delivery of family planning and reproductive health services. - A training program in China for family planning officials to assist them in applying human rights principles in training, information and education programs and in methods for providing advice and communication with clients. - A study tour to Australia by the Public Security Bureau of the Tibet Autonomous Region to examine the Australian experience in detention and the laws, policies and programs designed to promote the human rights of detainees. - A study tour to Australia by the Department of Justice of the Tibet Autonomous Region to examine the Australian experience in promoting the re-integration of prisoners into the community.

(3)   The next Australia-China Human Rights Dialogue will take place in China in July 2007.

(4)   The Agenda for the Dialogue is currently under discussion with the Chinese Government.