Amnesty International’s 2021-2022 report has criticised Australia for its failure to ensure basic human rights for Indigenous people, amongst other marginalised groups.
The Federal Government’s first progress report on the Closing the Gap Agreement was highlighted as not having reduced incarceration rates of Adult Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by at least 15 per cent.
Additionally, the report highlighted 26 Indigenous people had died in custody between July 2020 and June 2021, bringing the total number of deaths to approximately 500 since the 1991 Royal Commission.
No one has been held accountable in relation to these deaths.
Amnesty International Australia director Sam Klintworth said the report highlighted the number of people who are unable to access basic human rights in Australia.
“There are still too many people who are unable to access their basic human rights in Australia,” he said.
“The continued failure of members of society including refugees, asylum seekers and First Nations People to access their rights, demonstrates the urgent need for the government to implement an overarching single Human Rights Act that defends and protects the rights of all people.”
A spokesperson for Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt said the government had taken numerous steps to reduce Indigenous incarceration.
“The Morrison Government and all parties to the National Agreement on Closing the Gap are committed to reducing the rate of Indigenous incarceration,” they said.
“As the Minister said in October, Indigenous over-representation in adult and youth justice systems is complex, and we must do everything we can to reduce the rates in a culturally informed and coordinated way.'”
Indigenous Australians shadow minister Linda Burney said root causes needed to be addressed to address incarceration rates.
“We need to make sure there’s decent housing for Indigenous people… we need to make sure Indigenous perspectives are front and centre in government decision making, and give Indigenous people a voice and support the Uluru statement in full,” she said.
“Justice re-investment means diverting people from a life in the cycle of incarceration into finishing high school, into apprenticeships, into housing, into employment.”
The Amnesty International report also held the government responsible for children’s rights, refugees and migrant rights, impunity, LGBTI people’s rights, sexual and gender-based violence and failure to tackle the climate crisis.