Torture body cancels inspection due to access concerns during Australia’s UN visit

Due to two states’ refusal to grant them unrestricted access to detention facilities, a United Nations agency that monitors torture has postponed its visit to Australia.

In October, the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) was scheduled to visit, but it was postponed after Queensland and New South Wales denied them access to several facilities.

It currently claims that there hasn’t been enough advancement to permit full access.

The cancellation has been met with dissatisfaction from the Australian government.

The SPT, a group of impartial human rights experts, was tasked with monitoring Australia’s compliance with a protocol intended to outlaw torture and other cruel or inhumane treatment.

The federal government gave its approval for the nation to participate in this in 2017, allowing SPT members to go unannounced visits to jails, police stations, and other detention facilities.

Nevertheless, according to SPT Chairperson Suzanne Jabbour, despite Australia’s cooperation, there was no other option than to “terminate the visit as the problem of unfettered access to all areas of deprivation of liberty in two states has not yet been resolved.”

“Could not verify that it would be able to resume its visit in a fair timeframe,” the SPT continued.

The government of Australia, according to a representative for Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, “truly regrets” the decision and says it doesn’t align with its “mission to safeguarding and promoting human rights.”

He continued by saying that SPT visits had been successful in every other Australian state.

Queensland has made some headway since October in granting the UN access to mental health inpatient units, which had previously been prohibited due to privacy concerns.

Parliament is presently debating a bill that would eliminate legal restrictions.

Attorney General Mark Speakman of New South Wales stated that his administration had “consistently expressed” support for the procedure.

In October, the state restricted access to jails. At the time, the corrections minister told the local media that officials at one facility had been justified in refusing inspectors entrance because they lacked the required authorization.

Geoff Lee stated that the state had nothing to hide and that it was unwarranted for the UN to seek access to our jails.

The cancellation of the visit, according to Australia’s human rights commissioner, was “neither unexpected nor unwarranted.”

According to Lorraine Finlay of ABC News, Australia has not given the problem the serious consideration it requires.

It really hurts our reputation, in my opinion, Ms. Finlay said.

Australia aspires to lead the world in promoting human rights, but doing so is challenging when the country isn’t upholding its own international obligations.

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