"UN expert on indigenous people – Australia mission 17-28 August 2009"

Australian Human Rights Commission

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people, James Anaya, will undertake a mission to Australia from 17 to 28 August 2009, at the invitation of the Australian Government. (More information about the Special Rapporteur and his role is provided below).

During his mission to Australia, the Special Rapporteur will investigate and report on the major challenges faced by Indigenous peoples of Australia in the enjoyment of their human rights, with a view toward contributing to steps to address those problems, as well as to identify good practices.

The Special Rapporteur will travel to Canberra and to Adelaide, Perth, Alice Springs, Darwin, Yirrkala, Groote Eylandt, Cairns, Sydney, and Brisbane to hold discussions with government representatives, Indigenous communities and civil society groups on the human rights of Indigenous peoples. At the conclusion of his visit a press conference will be held in Canberra on 27 August 2009.

The Special Rapporteur will outline the visit’s findings in a Country Report which will be presented at a forthcoming session of the UN Human Rights Council.

The Indigenous Peoples’ Organisations (IPO) Network of Australia has submitted a brief to the Special Rapporteur on current Indigenous human rights issues in Australia. A copy of the brief can be accessed at the Australian Human Rights Commission’s website at:
http://www.humanrights.gov.au/social_justice/publications/srip_2009/index.html

Information and submissions can be provided directly to the Special Rapporteur by email: indigenous@ohchr.org

For further details about the Special Rapporteur’s mission, please contact: Les Malezer ( les.malezer@gmail.com ; 0419 710 720)

The Special Rapporteur’s Mandate

The Special Rapporteur examines ways and means of overcoming existing obstacles to the full and effective protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous people. This includes:

* Promoting good practices, and constructive agreements between indigenous peoples and states, to implement international standards concerning the rights of indigenous peoples

* Reporting on the overall human rights situations of indigenous peoples in selected countries

* Addressing specific cases of alleged violations of the rights of indigenous peoples through communications with Governments

* Conducting thematic studies on topics of special importance

* Working in cooperation with other UN bodies such as the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues and the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the Human Rights Council requests the Special Rapporteur to attend and to contribute to its annual meeting.

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Country Missions

The Special Rapporteur visits selected countries, to investigate and report on the situations of indigenous peoples in the country. On completion of the mission the Special Rapporteur produces a Country Report which is presented to UN Human Rights Council.

Country reports are typically based on an analysis of information sent to the Special Rapporteur from indigenous peoples, Governments, and interested parties as well as on independent research and visits to the country under review. During the country visits, the Special Rapporteur usually meets with a variety of individuals and groups, including Government officials, indigenous peoples and their leaders from various regions within the country, and a cross section of civil society actors that work on issues relevant to indigenous peoples. Visits such as these occur with Government consent and cooperation.

The on-site visit itself offers the Special Rapporteur an invaluable opportunity to engage with the various actors on indigenous issues. This engagement provides the Special Rapporteur with a deeper understanding of the issues the country faces and the obstacles for efforts to overcome them. In addition, the visit helps to forge relationships with the interested parties that are invaluable in maintaining a sustained dialogue aimed at improving the situation of indigenous peoples.

The culmination of this investigation and the on-site visit is a country report in which the Special Rapporteur details the events of his visit, provides an overview of the situation of indigenous people in the country, highlights the advances that the country has made with regards to indigenous rights, indicates areas where state practice still remains out of compliance with international standards, and offers recommendations for improving the situation of indigenous peoples.

The country reports are published as addenda to the Special Rapporteur’s annual reports to the Commission on Human Rights / Human Rights Council.

For more information about the Special Rapporteur visit his website at: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/issues/indigenous/rapporteur/