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Lawyers weigh in on inquiry into human rights laws

Lawyers weigh in on inquiry into human rights laws

A collective of Australian lawyers has confirmed it has lodged a submission for the ongoing inquiry into the human rights bill.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has supported the proposed legislation for a Joint Parliamentary Committee to scrutinise bills for their impact on human rights. 

It has also made suggestions for improving the government’s response to the legislation. Stephen Keim, president of the ALHR, confirmed that ALHR has lodged a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee inquiry into the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Bill 2010 and the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2010. 

Its submission has been published on the Committee’s website as submission no. 10. Keim said: “ALHR welcomes the Bills and supports their passage through Parliament. The Bills are an essential part of the comprehensive approach recommended in the 2009 Report of the Brennan Committee following the National Human Rights Consultation).” 

As part of its submission, ALHR had endorsed the earlier submission of the Human Rights Law Resource Centre. 

ALHR suggested that the Committee’s work would be more effective if the its role was expanded to address human rights and freedoms recognised by Customary International Human Rights Law and to take into account international and foreign human rights jurisprudence developed by courts and tribunals around the world dealing with human rights questions. 

It also suggested the Committee’s roles include inquiring into human rights questions referred by either House of Parliament, and the monitoring of Australia’s responses to recommendations of United Nations bodies reporting on Australia’s compliance with its human rights treaty obligations. 

“There is no comprehensive system at the moment to ensure that policy responses are made to those recommendations, Keim said. 

Keim added: “The ALHR submission also draws the Committee’s attention to the potential limitations of the approach to the protection of human rights embodied in the Bills when unsupported by a Human Rights Act. The Human Rights Act, of course, also formed a crucial part of the recommendations of the Brennan Committee’s comprehensive approach to protection of human rights in Australia.”

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