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Friday, 29 August 2008

UCA calls for protection of human rights

The Uniting Church was today one of 50+ organisations from across the country to call on the Federal Government to engage in a public consultation on human rights protection.

In an open letter addressed to the Prime Minister, the signatories have called for open, fair and public consultation on the protection of human rights.

“Many countries with a shared history and similar values to Australia, including the United Kingdom and New Zealand, have improved their legislative human rights protection in a way that has enhanced basic democratic values, improved public policy and services and maintained Parliament’s sovereignty,” Australian Human Rights Group chair Susan Ryan AO said, on behalf of the signatories.

National Director of UnitingJustice and spokesperson for the Uniting Church, Rev. Elenie Poulos said that while the Government has committed to some form of consultation it was important that it be an open, fair and broad-based public consultation.

“This is a significant opportunity for Australians to come together to talk about what values are important for us and how we ensure that our laws support those values. It was clear, for example, that Australians did not believe that locking children up in detention centres was acceptable. We breached our human rights obligations and caused great harm to many children. It is important that in the future we have a better capacity to examine such laws than we do now.”

Australia is presently the only democratic country in the world without a human rights law.

The Uniting Church believes in the dignity of every person and works for a society in which the most vulnerable are supported and protected, and so encourages all Australians to participate in the public discussions about how we best ensure that we are a just and fair society.

Rev. Elenie Poulos is available to comment. Please contact the Uniting Church’s communications office on: 02 8267 4227 to arrange an interview.