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Civil and Political Rights

Statement on travel ban and sanctions on Australians travelling from India

The travel ban on Australian citizens returning from India, accompanied by criminal sanctions under the Biosecurity Act, raises serious human rights concerns.

The Commission supports the continuation of aid to the Indian Government as it copes with the current COVID-19 crisis, but the Commission holds deep concerns about these extraordinary new restrictions on Australians returning to Australia from India.

Greater scrutiny of emergency powers needed

The Australian Human Rights Commission has called for greater accountability to be embedded in laws that extend the Commonwealth’s power in the event of national emergencies.

In its submission to a Senate inquiry examining the National Emergency Declaration Act 2020, the Commission recommended five changes to legislation that was enacted by parliament last year. 

Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow said the laws, which empower the Australian Government to act quickly and unilaterally during national emergencies, must include appropriate checks and balances.

Review of National Emergency Declaration Act 2020 (Cth)

Summary

The Australian Human Rights Commission makes this submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee in relation to its review of the operation of the National Emergency Declaration Act 2020 (Cth).

The Australian Human Rights Commission makes this submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee in relation to its review of the operation of the National Emergency Declaration Act 2020 (Cth).

Migration and Citizenship Amendment (Strengthening Information Provisions) Bill 2020

The Commission makes this submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee in relation to the Migration and Citizenship Amendment (Strengthening Information Provisions) Bill 2020 (Cth) (the Bill) introduced by the Australian Government.

Balancing Human Rights During COVID19

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Protecting public health and protecting human rights are not mutually exclusive choices – but how do we keep the balance between the two? What safeguards do we need to protect rights and freedoms in Australia and prevent the ‘creeping authoritarianism’ we have witnessed elsewhere in the world?

These were just some of the big questions of our time discussed by the panellists during the ‘Balancing Human Rights During COVID19’ RightsTalk, which the Australian Human Rights Commission presented in partnership with Lexis Nexis. 

‘Metadata law’ review makes key changes

The Australian Human Rights Commission has welcomed recommendations for reform of the mandatory data retention regime (known as the ‘metadata law’).

Review of the mandatory data retention regime (2019)

Summary

The Commission’s recommendations are aimed at ensuring that the data retention regime is more closely tailored to the purpose of fighting serious crime and is subject to appropriate safeguards and oversight.
The Commission’s recommendations are aimed at ensuring that the data retention regime is more closely tailored to the purpose of fighting serious crime and is subject to appropriate safeguards and oversight.

New data shows Australians want accountable AI

New research released by the Australian Human Rights Commission shows 46% of people in Australia are not aware that the government makes important decisions about them using artificial intelligence (AI). 

Older people, those not in paid employment and lower-income earners were least aware that government uses AI to make decisions. However, people in these groups are more likely to be affected by such decision making.

Wearing a mask will protect human liberties, not infringe upon them

There’s been a lot of talk, anger and resistance to the changes of our rights and freedoms as Australia deals with the COVID-19 pandemic. In some way or another, each and every one of us has encountered restrictions – on our freedom of movement, the right to peaceful protest, the ability to engage in public areas without wearing masks and the requirement to provide personal information for the purpose of contact tracing. 

More protections needed for people of faith

A new position paper examines the prevalence and effects of serious harms experienced by religious communities inside Australia.

Developed by the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) in partnership with the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission (VEOHRC), Freedom of religion in Australia: a focus on serious harms examines existing research and draws on first-person accounts from people of faith from many religious backgrounds.