Amnesty International Report 2005 - Australia
|Publication Date||25 May 2005|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2005 - Australia , 25 May 2005, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/429b27d520.html [accessed 21 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Covering events from January - December 2004
The rights of indigenous Australians remained a concern. Measures to combat "terrorism" led to legislative amendments with implications for civil rights. Limited options for permanent residency were introduced, although thousands of refugees remained in limbo. Refugee families were kept separated by the government's policy of mandatory and indefinite detention.
In October, the Council of Social Services reported that the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous people in health, education, employment and housing remained a concern. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission, an elected body represented at the UN Permanent Forum of Indigenous People, was dismantled and replaced with a government-appointed advisory council.
In February, riots broke out in Sydney after the death of a young indigenous man, T. J. Hickey, who fell from his bicycle and was impaled on a fence during a police operation. In August the coroner exonerated the New South Wales police of any responsibility for his death. In November, riots broke out on Palm Island, Queensland, following the death of an indigenous man, Cameron Doomadgee, while in police custody. A specialist commission was appointed to conduct a full inquiry into the death.
Violence against women
The government recognized violence against women as an issue with the launch of its "Australia says NO" campaign. In October, the results of a UN-coordinated survey revealed that 36 per cent of Australian women with a current or former partner had experienced violence in a relationship. In October it was reported that domestic violence was the leading cause of premature death and ill-health in women aged 15 to 44.
In December, James Ramage was convicted in the Supreme Court of Victoria of the lesser charge of manslaughter, rather than murder, of his wife Julie Ramage, based on her allegedly provocative words. The Victorian Law Reform Commission and women's groups questioned the continued availability of the defence of provocation.
Human rights and security
New "counter-terrorism" laws extended the period of detention without charge for "terrorism-related" offences and further restricted choice of legal representation. New legal provisions enabled the Attorney-General to keep information with security implications secret from an accused in federal criminal trials if a magistrate agreed.
The government did not seek the transfer or release of two Australian detainees – David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib – held at Guantánamo Bay and acquiesced to the operation of the US Military Commissions. The preliminary hearing before a military commission of David Hicks took place in August. The government dismissed allegations of torture and ill-treatment of Mamdouh Habib, detained without charge.
Refugees and asylum-seekers
The High Court of Australia ruled that legislation providing for the mandatory detention of asylum-seekers was consistent with Australia's Constitution.
Indian national Peter Qasim, from the state of Jammu and Kashmir, entered his seventh year in indefinite detention.
The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission reported in May on the physical and psychological harm suffered by children in detention and called for all children and their families to be released from immigration detention centres. As of November, at least 212 asylum-seekers remained in detention. The remaining 22 Afghans rescued by the MV Tampa in 2001 and detained on Nauru were recognized as refugees, leaving 54 still detained.
The government amended Temporary Protection Visa regulations, enabling selected refugees to apply for other permits or visas, but thousands of refugees remained in a state of uncertainty.