The Australian Human Rights Commission has recently hosted visits from two UN Special Rapporteurs: the UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change.
Special Rapporteurs are independent human rights experts appointed by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate, report on and make recommendations on thematic human rights issues or provide country-specific investigations and reports. These roles are non-paid and Special Rapporteurs are appointed for a period of three years with the option of renewal.
The Australian Human Rights Commission engages with the UN Special Rapporteurs as part of its responsibilities as an A-status National Human Rights Institution established under the Paris Principles. Under the Paris Principles, the Commission has a role to assist Special Rapporteurs with their country visits and to provide information on the Australian context to Special Rapporteurs on the human rights issues relevant to their mandates.
Special Rapporteur on the sale and exploitation of children
This week, Commission President Rosalind Croucher, National Children’s Commissioner Anne Hollonds and Human Rights Commissioner Lorraine Finlay met with Mama Fatima Singhateh, Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children on the second day of her official visit to Australia. The Commission shared with Mama Fatima their perspective on the structural issues at play in Australia that contribute to incidences of abuse and exploitation of children and their perspectives on what could be done to address the issues.
Mama Fatima will be traveling around Australia for 10 days to hear from governments, civil society and children about the issues facing them and will conclude her visit with a report and recommendations to the federal government for how to improve responses to these issues and fulfil Australia’s international obligations established under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change
Also this week, the Commission hosted Dr Ian Fry, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change. Dr Fry presented to the annual meeting of the Australian Council of Human Rights Authorities about his work and mandate and then participated in a presentation and Q&A to all Commission staff. The Commission is increasing its work in the human rights and climate change space, so Dr Fry’s presentation came at an excellent time to further to Commission’s understanding of the complex and rapidly evolving human rights issues impacted by the effects of climate change.