Human Rights Communications

The seven United Nations human rights treaties to which Australia is a party set out the Australian Government’s obligations to act or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups that are recognised in those treaties.

Each of these treaties has a committee (or ‘treaty body’) that monitors States Parties compliance with their treaty obligations and decides on complaints against states when states have accepted the relevant complaints processes. Committees are composed of independent experts elected by states parties.

Australia is a party to the complaints (or ‘communications’) mechanisms in relation to the following five human rights treaties:

Making a human rights complaint

Any individual can make a complaint against Australia if they are concerned that their human rights under these treaties have been violated. The Human Rights Bodies—Complaints Procedures page on the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights website provides further information.

A complaint must meet the formal requirements of admissibility before the merits of the complaint can be considered. A key requirement is that the individual making the complaint has exhausted all domestic remedies. This means that all avenues of appeal in Australia should be complete before submitting a complaint to a committee.

The Office of International Law in the Attorney-General’s Department coordinates the Australian Government's response to these communications and prepares Australia’s submissions to the relevant committee.

Committee views and government responses

Once a committee has considered a complaint, the committee transmits its decision (known as ‘views’) to the author and state party, which may recommend a remedy if a violation has been found.

If the committee decides that a state party has violated a person's rights, it invites the state party to supply information about the steps it has taken to remedy the violation. The views of the committees are not binding under international law. However, Australia gives careful consideration, in good faith, to any adverse views when received. If the committee decides that the complaint is inadmissible or there has been no violation, the case is closed.

Published views are available from the website of the relevant committee:

The section below contains links to recently issued committee views and responses by the Australian Government.

Human Rights Committee

2015/2010 concerning a series of legal proceedings involving the author in the Australian courts

The author alleged that Australia had violated articles 11, 14, 15 and 17 of the ICCPR in respect of a series of legal proceedings involving the author in Australian courts. The Committee found the matter inadmissible.

1875/2009 concerning visa cancellation, immigration detention and removal to the United States

The author alleged that Australia had violated articles 9, 13, 14, 17, 18, 23 and 24 of the ICCPR in respect of his visa cancellation on character grounds, immigration detention and subsequent removal to the United States. The Committee issued adverse views in respect of article 9.

1937/2010 concerning the refusal by the Australian Government to issue one of the authors with a permanent visa

The authors alleged that Australia had violated articles 2, 13, 26, 17, 23 and 24 of the ICCPR by requiring one of the authors to depart from Australia based on security concerns. The Committee issued adverse views.

1968/2010 concerning sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of release

The authors alleged that Australia had violated articles 7, 10, 15 and 24 of the ICCPR due to legislative amendments which altered the conditions under which the authors could be released on parole. The authors alleged that these amendments effectively impose on them life sentences without the possibility of release, which is inappropriate given their status as minors at the time they committed their offences. The Committee issued adverse views.

1973/2010 concerning the extradition of the author from Australia to the United States

The author alleged that Australia had violated articles 2, 9, 13 and 14 of the ICCPR in relation to his extradition to the United States. The Committee issued adverse views.

2053/2011 concerning removal to Senegal

The author alleged that Australia would violate articles 6, 7 and 18 of the ICCPR if the author was returned to Senegal. The author’s application for a protection visa had been refused. The Committee found that Australia would not be in violation if the author was returned.

1995/2010 concerning the death of the author's son who was killed in a bicycle accident

The author alleged that Australia had violated articles 2, 6 and 26 of the ICCPR as the procedures, policies and institutions for the investigation of deaths involving the police force were not independent. The Committee found the matter inadmissible.

2049/2011 concerning removal to China

The author alleged that Australia would violate articles 7, 18 and 19 of the ICCPR if the author was returned to China. The author’s application for a protection visa had been refused. The Committee found that Australia would not be in violation if the author was returned.

1885/2009 concerning injuries sustained following a police raid

The author alleged that the actions of Victorian police during a raid violated articles 2, 7, 9, 10 and 17 of the ICCPR. The Committee issued adverse views.

2094/2011 and 2136/2012 concerning asylum seekers with adverse security assessments

The authors alleged that Australia had violated articles 7, 9, 10, 17, 23 and 24 of the ICCPR in relation to their ongoing detention following arrival in Australia by boat. The Committee issued adverse views.

1897/2009 concerning removal to Timor-Leste and access to medical care

The author alleged that Australia would violate article 7 of the ICCPR if the author was returned to Timor‑Leste. The author’s application for a protection visa was refused. The Committee found the matter inadmissible.

1921/2009 concerning minimum terms of imprisonment prior to eligibility for parole

The author alleged that Australia had violated article 15 of the ICCPR in respect of a change of parole legislation that entered into force after the commission of the offence for which the author was serving life imprisonment. The Committee found the matter inadmissible.

1938/2010 concerning removal to China

The author alleged that Australia would violate articles 6, 7, 9, 14 and 17 of the ICCPR if the author was returned to China. The author’s application for a protection visa was refused. The Committee found the matter inadmissible.

Committee Against Torture

511/2012 concerning the author's attempts to seek civil remedies in Australian courts

The author alleged that Australia had violated article 14 of the CAT by preventing the author from bringing a claim in Australian courts based on foreign state immunities. The Committee found the matter inadmissible.

455/2011 concerning removal to China

The author alleged that Australia would violate article 3 of the CAT if the author was returned to China. The author's application for a protection visa was refused. The Committee found that Australia would not be in violation if the author was returned.

434/2010 concerning removal to China

The authors alleged that Australia would violate articles 3 and 16 of the CAT if the authors were returned to China. The main author’s application for a protection visa was refused. The Committee found that Australia would not be in violation if the author was returned.

387/2009 concerning removal to Sri Lanka

The author alleged that Australia would violate article 3 of the CAT if the author was returned to Sri Lanka. The author’s application for a protection visa was refused. The Committee issued adverse views. The Australian Government has noted the views of the Committee.

417/2010 concerning removal to China

The author alleged that Australia would violate article 3 of the CAT if the author was returned to China. The author’s application for a protection visa was refused. The Committee found that Australia would not be in violation if the author was returned.

416/2010 concerning removal to China

The author alleged that Australia would violate article 3 of the CAT if the author was returned to China, as he claimed to be a regular practitioner and leader of Falun Gong. The author’s application for a protection visa was refused. The Committee issued adverse views. The Australian Government has noted the views of the Committee.

Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination

47/2010 concerning qualification for social security

The author alleged that Australia had violated articles 2, 5 and 6 of the CERD, through the application of social security legislation setting the same qualifying age for all Australians which was alleged to be inequitable on the basis of a lower life expectancy for Indigenous persons. The Committee found the matter inadmissible.

Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

12/2013 concerning refusal to accommodate the author's disability to perform jury duty

The author alleged that Australia had violated articles 12, 13, 21 and 29 of the CRPD because of an alleged policy to exclude people who require Auslan interpretation from performing jury duty. The Committee found the matter inadmissible.

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