Australia criticised for policies

THE UN has called on the Australian Government to dispel civil society’s growing concerns about the chilling effect of its recent laws, policies and actions constraining the rights of human rights defenders.

The call was made by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Michael Forst at the end of his first fact-finding visit to Australia.

Mr Forst said he was astounded by the frequent public vilification of rights defenders by senior government officials, in a seeming attempt to discredit, intimidate and discourage them from their legitimate work.

He said the media and business actors had contributed to this stigmatisation.

Mr Forst said environmentalists, whistleblowers, trade unionists and individuals such as doctors, teachers and lawyers protecting the rights of refugees had borne the brunt of the verbal attacks.

Australia’s Government has broad support.

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