All Media Documentss

This week the Australian Government delivered its official response to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in relation to the numerous recommendations made during Australia’s Universal Periodic Review earlier this year. In it’s official response to a comprehensive United Nations human rights review, the Australian Government has again rejected calls to action in regards to some of the nation’s fundamental human rights issues, says the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services (NATSILS).

VALS observes Sorry Day and pays respects to the members of the Stolen Generations. VALS calls on State and Federal Governments to address the issue of long-overdue reparations and establish a Stolen Generations Reparations Tribunal based on the principles developed by Theo van Boven for the United Nations on the Right to Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of Human Rights (first attachment).

National Sorry Day 2011 was also marked by the Indigenous Peoples Organisations (IPO) Network (of which VALS is a member) through a Statement to the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in New York (second attachment).

The Australian delegation bowed their heads for a minute of silence.

Twenty years after the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC) report was released on 15 April 1991, a significant number of recommendations remain unimplemented and people continue to die needlessly in custody.

“It is unacceptable that governments in this country continue to fail to prioritise or address the ongoing deaths of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody and that little has changed in the twenty years since the RCIADIC” said Mr. Shane Duffy, Chairperson of the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services Forum (NATSILS).

The NATSILS are alarmed by the ongoing deaths in custody and say it is crucial for all 339 RCIADIC recommendations to be implemented immediately. National statistics show that in the land of the ‘fair go’ an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person is 14 times more likely to be incarcerated than a non-Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person. Addressing the over-representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in custody is a crucial step in achieving the aims of the RCIADIC, yet there continues to be an overwhelming lack of effective policies aimed at diverting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from the criminal justice system.

See attachment for NATSILS media release.