Wednesday, 14 March 2012
Convention on the Rights of the Child
That the Senate—
(i) the launch of the Third Optional Protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which proposes four procedures for children, young people, and their advocates to report a violation of child rights directly to the Committee on the Rights of the Child,
(ii) that the Third Optional Protocol opened for signature on 28 February 2012 and was signed on that day by countries, including Austria, Belgium, Chile, Costa Rica, Finland, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Maldives, Mali, Montenegro, Morocco, Peru, Portugal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Uruguay; and
(iii) the Third Optional Protocol offers a crucial opportunity to strengthen mechanisms for equality and justice for all children and young people in Australia; and
(b) calls on the Government to ensure that Australia signs on to the Third Optional Protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child without delay.
The government welcomes any discussion about furthering the promotion and protection of children's rights. The Attorney-General's Department is conducting a consultation to this effect. No decision has yet been made as to whether Australia may become a party to the optional protocol and Australia has not made any statement regarding refusal to sign. It would be premature to announce an intention to become a party to the optional protocol without undertaking appropriate consultation processes, as we are currently doing.
I am disappointed that the government have not signed the optional protocol as yet. There seems to be no excuse as to why not. I would hope that in their discussions they are indeed speaking with the very children whose rights are being violated. They, of course, are the 500 or so children who remain under the legal guardianship of the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Chris Bowen. If this protocol were to be signed, they would be able to complain directly to the UN and have them investigate whether the immigration minister is indeed upholding his duty of care to the very same people for whom he is both the jailer and the legal guardian.