Anaya Statement - Official UN report on Australia's Indigenous people

For full text of statement (77.8kb) click here

Indigenous intervention discriminatory: UN

Professor Anaya says the intervention is an extraordinary measure which infringes on the rights of Indigenous people.

The United Nations says Australia is breaching its international human rights obligations by continuing the Northern Territory intervention.

The UN's special rapporteur on human rights and fundamental freedoms of Indigenous people, Professor James Anaya, says the intervention is also discriminatory and has urged the Government to reinstate the Racial Discrimination Act.

Professor Anaya has just completed a 10-day fact-finding mission of Aboriginal communities across the country.

He has described the intervention as an extraordinary measure which infringes on the rights and self-determination of Indigenous people.

"In my opinion, as currently configured and carried out, the emergency response is incompatible with Australia's obligations under the convention of elimination of forms of racial discrimination and the international convention on political rights," he said.

"I hope that amendments to the emergency response will diminish or remove its discriminatory aspects," he said.

The Howard government initiated the intervention in 2007 in response to reports of widespread sexual abuse across Indigenous communities.

To do so it had to suspend the Racial Discrimination Act but the Federal Government has already indicated it will introduce legislation to reinstate the Act later this year.

When the Labor Government was elected in 2007, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd promised to take steps to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians in areas such as health and education.

Professor Anaya has also urged the Government to take more holistic approach to tackle Indigenous disadvantage.

"It would seem to me that the objectives of the Closing the Gap campaign, the emergency response and other current initiatives and proposals of the Government would be best achieved in partnership with Indigenous people's own institutions and decision-making bodies," he said.

He has also welcomed today's proposal released by Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander Justice Commissioner, Professor Tom Calma, for a new Indigenous representative body.

Date of publication: 
27 August 2009
Press Release - Australia JA final.pdf77.84 KB