Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2013 Week 4 Hansard (21 March) . .
Thursday, 21 March 2013
The Assembly met at 10 am.
MADAM ACTING SPEAKER (Ms Porter) took the chair and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.
Monitoring of Places of Detention (Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture) Bill 2013
Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.
Title read by Clerk.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Minister for Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations and Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development) (10.03): I move:
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
Today I am introducing the Monitoring Places of Detention (Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture) Bill 2013. This bill will give effect to the ACT's initial obligations under the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, once the protocol is ratified by the commonwealth.
Australia ratified the convention against torture in 1989. It required Australian governments to "take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction". In 2002 the United Nations adopted the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which came into force in 2006. The protocol, commonly known as OPCAT, aims to establish a proactive, independent monitoring system for places where people are deprived of their liberty in order to prevent torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
On 8 June 2011, the Australian government accepted six recommendations from the United Nations Human Rights Council's universal periodic review of Australia's human rights performance which urged Australia to ratify the OPCAT. On 21 June last year, the Australian parliament's Joint Standing Committee on Treaties tabled its review of OPCAT, recommending that Australia take binding treaty action. The treaties committee also recommended that the Australian government work with all states and territories to establish an effective monitoring framework, as required under the protocol.