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Response to UN Human Rights Committee.

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6 March 2001


The Commonwealth is currently finalising its response to a communication that was submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee last year.

The communication contains a number of allegations that mandatory sentencing laws in the Northern Territory are in breach of Australia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The Commonwealth’s submission is at an advanced stage and we hope to be able to lodge it before the Human Rights Committee meets later this month. The Committee has a significant backlog of communications, including two which Australia responded to in June 1998 and which have not yet been considered by the Committee, so it may be some time before Australia’s submissions are considered.

As is normal practice, the Commonwealth will not be making the submission public. However, we will release a summary of the main arguments. In accordance with the applicant’s wishes, the name of the applicant will remain confidential.

The Commonwealth has consulted with the Northern Territory Government in formulating its response. There is a large number of allegations made in the communication that require complex and detailed response. This has meant that the submission will be lodged shortly after the Human Rights Committee’s deadline.

The Australian Government takes its international obligations seriously.

No amount of harping from Labor will force us to take shortcuts in responding to the communication. If Labor is serious about our engagement with United Nations committees, the shadow attorney-general should stop trying to score cheap political points at the expense of our international reputation.



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