UN envoy blasts Australia for breaching rights of indigenous population

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Melbourne, Feb.25 (ANI): The UN Special Rapporteur on indigenous peoples, James Anaya, has blasted Australia for breaching its international human rights obligations by imposing welfare restrictions and alcohol and pornography bans in Aboriginal communities.

The Age quoted Anaya, as saying in his report: "These measures involve racial discrimination. The differential treatment of indigenous peoples in the Northern Territory involves impairment of the enjoyment of various human rights."

Professor Anaya visited affected Aboriginal communities in August last year.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin has since announced plans to extend welfare quarantining, and other restrictions, to disadvantaged communities across the country.

Professor Anaya said government-supplied proof that alcohol and pornography bans were working was "ambiguous at best".

"I specifically asked for evidence showing whether or not the bans had helped. The only evidence I've seen is that alcohol consumption levels, and associated problems, have gone up," he said

Income quarantining confines 50 per cent of welfare to essentials such as food, clothing and rent. The government says applying it to more people and adding an avenue for them to seek to be exempted makes the intervention comply with race discrimination laws suspended since 2007 for its introduction.

The opposition called the changes a dilution and Ben Schokman, senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Resource Centre, said they were "farcical" and only partially restored the Racial Discrimination Act.

Professor Anaya made further criticisms of the intervention. Compulsory land takeovers proceeded without consent, consultation or compensation and the bright green "BasicsCard" that Aboriginal people had to produce to access money in shops was humiliating, he said.

Ms Macklin defended the intervention, saying the government's priority was to protect vulnerable women and children.(ANI)

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