(Sydney Morning Herald) Rudd must act if race complaint upheld
* George Williams
There is little in the eyes of the international community more serious than a nation being found to have racist laws and policies. This was the claim made last week against Australia by 20 Aborigines.
Their complaint to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination about the Northern Territory intervention has a strong prospect of success. If this proves correct, enormous pressure will be put on the Rudd Government to reform the intervention.
The complaint pulls no punches. It describes the intervention as a “flagrant breach” of Australia’s obligations under the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
While its authors acknowledge the legitimate aim of improving the well-being of Aborigines in the Northern Territory, they argue that Australian law breaches the convention on two grounds. First, the law uses “punitive and racist measures” that “have led to serious, massive and persistent discrimination”. Second, Australia has breached the convention by suspending the protections found in the Racial Discrimination Act.”