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Greens call for Rights of Child to be enshrined on UN Day.

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Sarah Hanson-Young Greens Senator for South Australia


Friday 24 October 2008

Greens call for Rights of Child to be enshrined on UN Day

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young has called on the Federal Government to ensure that the International Convention on the Rights of the Child is fully and consistently implemented across Australia, to ensure that children are truly protected from human rights violations.

Today is United Nations Day, and the 63rd anniversary of the United Nations Charter coming into effect. Senator Hanson-Young is spending today in a Sydney hearing for the Joint Standing Committee on Migration’s Inquiry into Immigration Detention.

“If Australia was to properly uphold the International Convention on the Rights of the Child, children would be protected from being held in the unnatural, unhealthy environment of immigration detention,” said Senator Hanson-Young.

“While Australia has signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the evidence we have heard today from human rights experts points to the fact that our own laws do not comply with it.

“This must change.”

It was confirmed in this week’s Senate Estimates by Immigration Minister Chris Evans that children are still being detained under Australia’s immigration laws, with an admission from the Minister that the current Migration Act does not adequately cover children.

“No matter what kind of gloss the Government wants to put on it, the fact is that children are still being held in detention,” said Senator Hanson-Young.

“The facilities called ’residential housing’ are still a form of detention, where children are being detained - sometimes even in view of the razorwire of a detention centre next door.

“Enough with the rhetoric - what we need is true transparency on the human rights of children.”

Senator Hanson-Young said the Greens want to see the draft legislation and regulations to amend Australia’s immigration laws.

“Rather than continue to rely on the goodwill of the Immigration Minister to make sure that things are done the right way with respect to human rights, the legislation must be changed,” she said.

“If the Government really wants to move forward and raise Australia’s international reputation on human rights, the rights of children must be protected formally in law, now and into the future.

“It’s well and truly time for legislative change on these crucial matters of human rights and justice.”

Media contact: Gemma Clark on 0427 604 760