The leading representative body for Australian lawyers has put advocacy for a national bill of rights at the top of its to-do list as part of a new policy statement released last week.
The Law Council of Australia (LCA) has vowed to advocate for a federal charter or bill of rights in a newly released policy statement about human rights and the legal profession.
Part of the LCA’s push for a national bill of rights also includes lobbying for those Australian states and territories yet to develop charters of their own to get on board.
Both Victoria and the ACT are the only jurisdictions that have a legislative instrument which outlines the rights of its citizens.
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC said that the new statement aligned with the timing of Australia’s bid for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.
“The Law Council endorses a central and constructive role for Australia in the international human rights system.
“This year, as Australia seeks a seat on the UN Human Rights Council, it is important to assert and articulate the legal profession’s principles and commitments on human rights,” Ms McLeod said.
The LCA’s national human rights committee prepared a statement, which was launched on Friday (16 June) with the approval of the council’s directors.
Ms McLeod said that the Policy Statement on Human Rights and the Legal Profession provided a framework for evaluating the merits of legislation, policy and practice by reference to international human rights law.
“The Law Council supports an approach, consistent with international law and practice, which confirms that all human rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent and interrelated,” Ms McLeod said.
“We believe this makes it vital to consider legislation and government action through a human rights lens. The principles in this framework guide myriad aspects of the Law Council’s work in the policy space, from asylum seekers to marriage equality to metadata,” she said.
The statement also expresses a commitment from the group to promote respect for human rights through implementation of the UN’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. This limb of the policy focuses on the role that Australian corporations and other incorporated and non-incorporated entities have to play for the nation’s human rights record.