General view at the opening day of the 22nd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council on February 25, 2013 in Geneva. The Council kicks off with widespread abuses in North Korea and Mali the top items on the agenda, along with the crisis in Syria. AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI

U.N. to investigate Australia for arbitrary detention

A panel of five U.N. human rights monitors will next month undertake a two-week visit and investigation of Australia’s record on arbitrary detention, prompting criticism from a watchdog organization on the U.N. group’s failure to visit or investigate most of the world’s worst human rights abusers.
“We have a problem of misplaced priorities here, which neglects millions of human rights victims worldwide who desperately need a global spotlight” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of the non-governmental organization UN Watch, who is today visiting the Australian Parliament.
“Whatever Australia’s flaws, why is the U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detention launching an investigation into one of the world’s leading democracies, when over the past decade it has never visited or reported on brutal tyrannies that systematically commit arbitrary detention, such as Iran, Syria, North Korea, China, Russia, Venezuela, Cuba, Pakistan or Zimbabwe?” asked Neuer.
The panel was sharply criticized when it condemned the UK for allegedly committing arbitrary detention of Julian Assange.
The five members of the U.N. panel, including Leigh Toomey of Australia, are appointees of the controversial 47-nation Human Rights Council. The group announced that it will visit Australia from March 10 to 23, 2020, to examine “alleged practices of arbitrary deprivations of liberty,” including “actions by the police, prosecutors, judicial authorities and others,” according to a notice sent out by the panel.
The U.N. investigators will conduct visits to different states, territories and “places of deprivation of liberty across the country.” The delegation will meet with “state authorities, alleged victims and civil society partners, including human rights defenders, as well as lawyers, judges, academics and researchers.”

At the conclusion of the visit, the Working Group will hold a press conference to announce its preliminary findings, conclusions and recommendations. A report on the country visit will be presented to the Human Rights Council in September 2021.

The working group condemned as arbitrary and illegal Australia’s indefinite incarceration of refugees and asylum seekers, issuing critical statements on five separate cases in a year.

UN Watch