HUMAN RIGHTS have seen the sunlight in Australia, with the Federal Government asking UN human rights reporters to visit the country and Justice Catherine Branson appointed as the next president of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission.
A judge of the Federal Court of Australia since 1994, Justice Branson will start her tenure as president in October. She recently expressed strong concern about sweeping police powers agreed upon for the World Youth Day event in Sydney.
Meanwhile, Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland has extended an invitation to United Nations human rights experts to visit Australia. The visit means that the UN Special Rapporteurs and other working groups will be allowed to enter the country to report on concerning human rights issues.
Law Council president Ross Ray QC said the announcement had been a long time coming and marked a turning point in Australia’s relationship with the UN human rights system. “The former Australian Government often simply preferred its own view to that of UN experts — ignoring or rejecting the views of those that questioned Australia’s human rights record.”