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Year of human rights achievements for HRLC

Year of human rights achievements for HRLC

By Karin Derkley

Asylum Discrimination Human Rights LGBTIQ Women's Rights 


The launch of a campaign to end strip searching of women in prison is one of dozens documented by the Human Rights Legal Centre in its Annual Report.

The HRLC says strip searches are unnecessary, invasive, and violate Victoria's Human Rights Charter. In its analysis of six months of strip search data it found only seven items in the 6000 times women were strip searched. Most were tobacco products and none were a threat to prison security.

Other campaigns highlighted in the Annual Report 'On the Right Side of History' include against offshore detention, removing kids from adult prisons, ending Aboriginal deaths in custody, LGBTI rights, and the protection of the right to political protest.

The centre says its successful legal action to stop the detention of young detainees in the Barwon maximum security adult prison following riots at Parkville Youth Detention centre in early 2017 set a critical child rights precedent and realised the potential of Victoria’s Charter of Human Rights.

The HRLC also played a role in erasing historical unjust convictions against LGBTI people under homophobic laws across Australia. The HRLC began advocating in 2014 to right these historical wrongs. Six states and territories have now introduced schemes that allow people convicted under these laws to apply to have their criminal record erased.

The centre managed to secure a commitment from the Australian Government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) to reduce the risks of abuse and deaths in custody in youth justice centres, prisons and immigration detention.

However, it has also pointed to Australia’s ongoing human rights failings in its reports to the United Nations Human Rights Committee, generating international pressure for change and laying the groundwork for a national Human Rights Act.

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