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Review of Australia under the Convention Against Torture (CAT)
 
Tuesday 11 November 2014
Report from the Australian Civil Society Delegation

Dear ,
 
Friday 7 November 2014
 
On Friday 7 November 2014, the Australian Civil Society Delegation (the Delegation) had the opportunity to formally meet with the Committee Against Torture (the Committee) and make supplementary oral statements highlighting priority issues of concern.  This meeting lasted for one hour with each delegate speaking for 2-3 minutes. The Committee then had questions for the delegates for half an hour.
 
The Committee was impressed with the number of delegates who had made the trip from Australia and with the range and depth of expertise present.
 
IMAGE: Photograph of Ngila Bevan (PWDA), Damian Griffis (FPDN) and Scott Avery (FPDN) at the United Nations
Ngila Bevan (PWDA), Damian Griffis (FPDN)
and Scott Avery (FPDN) 

 
Engagement with the Committee continued in the afternoon with a one hour side event.  During this time, the Committee had further questions for the Delegation on key topics such as asylum seeker policy, indefinite detention, prison conditions, restrictive practices and violence against women.
 
These discussions continued well into the afternoon with the Secretariat continuing the question and answer session with delegates for a further hour and a half! This was a rare opportunity to ensure that the Committee was fully briefed on a whole range of issues and the Delegation certainly made the most of the time to provide further information, statistics and case studies. It was also very encouraging to experience the Committee and Secretariat so engaged and knowledgeable about the issues we had come to discuss.
 
On Friday members of the Delegation also met with the Australian Government delegation, including Mr John Quinn, Australian Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, for an hour long discussion of key issues from the NGO perspective.
 
The Delegation also met with representatives from the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), which is the main coalition of international non-governmental organisations (NGO) fighting against torture, summary executions, enforced disappearances and all other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment. The Delegation thanks the OMCT for their support in coordinating the logistics regarding the side event and formal briefing of the Committee.
 
Delegation Statements to the Committee Against Torture
More Delegation statements will be put on the website as they become available.
 
Monday 10 November 2014
 
On Monday 10 November, the Australian Government presented its report to the Committee and highlighted areas of progress since the last review in 2008. The Committee then spent the remaining hour and a half asking questions to the Delegation which they will answer in the final session on Tuesday 11 (watch live on webcast on Wednesday 12 November, 1am-4am AEST)
 
Questions concerning disability were varied and covered topics such as forced sterilisation; indefinite detention of people found unfit to plead; mental health care in prisons; use of solitary confinement in prison; the over representation of Aboriginal people, especially Aboriginal women in prison; and young people with disability in juvenile detention.
 
The Committee was very concerned about the treatment of asylum seekers particularly their mandatory detention; the reasons why the Australian government does not consider domestic violence to fall under the purview of the convention; why Australia still does not have a Bill of Rights or Human Rights Act; and the time frame for the ratification of OPCAT.
 
A recording of this question session is here at http://www.treatybodywebcast.org/treaty-body-webcast-ii/ 
 
The Twitter feed for this question session is at #UNCAT.
 
Australian Government Statement to the Committee Against Torture
More information is available here.
 
 
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