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ASIA & OCEANIA / UN envoy demands changes to 'racist' intervention
Date of publication at Tlaxcala: 03/09/2010
Translations available: Deutsch 

UN envoy demands changes to 'racist' intervention

Yuko Narushima


The government must purge the Northern Territory intervention of racist measures that stigmatise indigenous people, a United Nations representative says.

The UN special rapporteur on indigenous peoples, James Anaya, blasted Australia for breaching its international human rights obligations by imposing welfare restrictions and alcohol and pornography bans that targeted only Aboriginal communities.

 ''These measures involve racial discrimination,'' Professor Anaya said in a report handed to government. ''The differential treatment of indigenous peoples in the Northern Territory involves impairment of the enjoyment of various human rights.''

Professor Anaya visited communities in August last year. The Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin, has since announced plans to extend welfare quarantining and other restrictions to disadvantaged communities across the country.

No Liquor - No Pornography

Professor Anaya said government proof that alcohol and pornography bans were working was ''ambiguous at best''. ''I specifically asked for evidence showing whetheror not the bans had helped,'' he said. ''The only evidence I've seen is that alcohol consumption levels, and associated problems, have gone up.''

Income quarantining confines 50 per cent of welfare to essentials such as food, clothing and rent. The government says applying it to more people and adding an avenue for them to apply to be excused makes the intervention comply with race discrimination laws suspended in 2007 for its introduction.

The opposition has labelled the changes a dilution. A senior lawyer at the Human Rights Law Resource Centre, Ben Schokman, said they were ''farcical'' and only partially restored the Racial Discrimination Act.

Professor Anaya also criticised compulsory land takeovers proceeded without consent, consultation or compensation, and the bright green BasicsCard indigenous people had to produce to use money in shops was humiliating, he said.

Courtesy of Yuko Narushima
Publication date of original article: 25/02/2010
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Tags: AustraliaNorthern Territoryracist interventionJames AnayaAboriginesdiscrimination

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