• Australia has a strong record protecting civil and political rights, but has damaged its record and its potential to be a regional human rights leader by persistently undercutting refugee protections. Australia is frequently unwilling to publicly raise human rights abuses in countries with which it has strong trade or security ties, fearing that to do so would harm its relations with foreign governments. Human Rights Watch launched its first-ever office in Australia in August 2013, with the aim of increasing engagement with the Australian government on human rights issues in the Asia-Pacific region. To support our work, please consider making a donation.

  • Australia's Minister of Immigration and Border Protection Scott Morrison speaks at a news conference during his working visit to Malaysia on February 5, 2014.

    A new refugee agreement between Australia and Cambodia does not meet Australia’s commitment to send refugees to a “safe third country,” and will undermine refugee protection in the region, Human Rights Watch said today. A Cambodian government press release states that the Australian immigration minister, Scott Morrison, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the settlement of refugees in Cambodia with the Cambodian interior minister, Sar Kheng, in Phnom Penh on September 26, 2014.

Reports

Australia

  • Sep 25, 2014
    A new refugee agreement between Australia and Cambodia does not meet Australia’s commitment to send refugees to a “safe third country,” and will undermine refugee protection in the region, Human Rights Watch said today. A Cambodian government press release states that the Australian immigration minister, Scott Morrison, will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on the settlement of refugees in Cambodia with the Cambodian interior minister, Sar Kheng, in Phnom Penh on September 26, 2014.
  • Sep 22, 2014
    Sweeping laws to gag publication of sensitive materials are dangerous for democracy – Abbott should not let hysteria over terrorism be used to thwart the freedom agenda
  • Sep 15, 2014

    We, the undersigned organisations, are writing to urge the Australian Government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (OPCAT) and implement a National Preventative Mechanism (NPM) without delay.

  • Aug 25, 2014

    Human Rights Watch has followed the discussion about the issue of same sex marriage and whether it should be introduced in Australia for years now. I invite you to look back at a country which has been through the same discussions and soul searching about 15 years ago. Several of the experiences in the Netherlands are relevant for your inquiry.

  • Aug 4, 2014

    Australian Government silence on the threat posed by East Timor's Media Act would be a betrayal of its journalists and a disservice to the memory of the Balibo Five.

  • Jul 24, 2014
    We write on the occasion of the forthcoming Australia-Vietnam human rights dialogue, scheduled to be held in Hanoi on July 28, 2014. As the first such dialogue under the Abbott government, this represents a crucial opportunity to not only raise pressing human rights issues in an unambiguous manner, but also to improve the efficacy of the dialogue by setting clear benchmarks for improvements and making the outcome of the discussions public.
  • Jul 24, 2014

    Australia should use the upcoming Australia-Vietnam human rights dialogue to press the Vietnamese government to make concrete and measurable improvements in its abysmal human rights record.

  • Jul 2, 2014
  • Jul 1, 2014
    When Julie Bishop arrives in Burma this week for her first visit as Australia’s foreign minister, she may be hoping to find a model for peaceful democratic transition from decades of military rule. Instead, she’ll find a shaky, uneven reform process led by a quasi-civilian government that’s already showing deep stress fractures.
  • Jun 19, 2014