Government must say if it supports Australia’s UNHRC bid

The Foreign Minister must confirm whether New Zealand will be supporting Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Green Party said today.

The Foreign Minister must confirm whether New Zealand will be supporting Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), the Green Party said today.

Yesterday, under questioning from the Green Party, the Prime Minister refused to confirm or deny New Zealand’s support for Australia’s bid for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council. He said that was the responsibility of the Foreign Minister.

“Australia has been cited 143 times for human rights abuses including illegal detention and inhumane treatment of those who have been illegally detained,” said Green Party Co-leader James Shaw.

“Given John Key dodged responsibility for saying whether Australia deserves a seat on the UNHRC, and put the ball firmly in the Foreign Minister’s court, Murray McCully should publically declare whether the Government supports the bid or not.

“It would be wrong for New Zealand to support Australia’s bid for a seat on the world’s top human rights body when Australia has time and time again been found to be in breach by that very body.

“Earlier this year, Australia was found by the UN to be systematically violating the torture convention by detaining children, in violent conditions, in off-shore detention centres.

“Not only does Australia violate human rights at home, they are well known for supporting abusive regimes like those in Sri Lanka and Cambodia.

“Australia has repeatedly blocked the UN’s access to its off-shore detention centres, a move strongly condemned by the special rapporteur – and yet they want a seat on the human rights body? That’s ridiculous.

“While Australia continues to blatantly flout the rules of the UN, the Government should take a strong stance against their election or else we are complicit in the abuse.

“How can we trust a country to enforce the principles of human rights when they don’t even follow it themselves?”

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