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Enhancing the safety of Australians working for the UN.



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5 October 2000

 

ENHANCING THE SAFETY OF AUSTRALIANS WORKING FOR THE UN

The Senate has today passed the Criminal Code Amendment (United Nations and Associated Personnel) Bill 2000 which will give greater protection to the men and women who serve the international community under the auspices of the United Nations.

United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan appealed this week for member States to do more to ensure the safety of UN workers following the recent murder of UNHCR staff in West Timor and Guinea. Mr Annan believes that one of the UN’s greatest challenges is to guarantee the safety of its staff in the field.

Passage of this legislation will enable Australia to become a party to the Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel. The Convention, which came into force in early 1999, is a major measure by the international community to protect UN personnel against deliberate attacks and bring offenders to justice.

The Australian Government is committed to doing everything possible to protect UN workers. This legislation demonstrates that commitment by strengthening the ability of Australian authorities to take action against offenders.

The Act adds new offences to the Commonwealth’s Criminal Code which deal with attacks against UN personnel. These new offences cover murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, unlawful detention, sexual assault and conduct causing serious harm or harm. A range of people engaged in UN operations will be

protected by the amendments, including the military, police and civilian components of an operation as well as humanitarian workers deployed under an agreement with United Nations in support of a UN operation.

The new offences will apply to persons who attack Australian UN workers anywhere in the world thereby strengthening our capacity to extradite offenders who try to take refuge in the territory of a State party to the Convention. The legislation also enables Australian authorities to prosecute a person accused of attacking a non- Australian UN worker if the person later enters Australia.

The legislation will come into force once the formal steps necessary for Australia to ratify the Convention are completed. I urge signatory states that have not already done so, to ratify this important Convention.

 

 

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