UN committee claims racism entrenched in Australia

The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has issued a rebuke to the Australian Government over its treatment of Indigenous people. The Committee delivered its final assessment on Australia for 2010 by congratulating the Labor Government for issuing an apology to the Stolen Generations of Aborigine people, but it also criticised successive governments for failing to entrench anti-racism legislation in the federal constitution.

UN committee member Patrick Thornberry told a press conference in Geneva that discrimination had become embedded in Australian attitudes towards Aborigines.

He added: “We are suggesting that there should be some way for example of entrenching protection from racial discrimination in the Australian constitution. Because it was quite a surprise to the committee when we heard that in virtue of the Northern Territory emergency response, that the Racial Discrimination Act had been suspended. I must say this was really quite new in our experience.”

He continued: “The Aboriginal intervention occurred under the Howard government but as I understand it the report here says that the intervention continues to discriminate on the basis of race because, as your committee found, it deliberately has been allowed to bypass race discrimination laws in Australia.”

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