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Media release

Joint media release with
The Hon Robert McClelland MP, Attorney-General

2 May 2008

Australia To Take Action Against Torture

Attorney-General Robert McClelland and Foreign Minister Stephen Smith today announced that the Rudd Government has begun the necessary consultations on Australia becoming a party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture.

The Torture Protocol establishes a sub-committee of the UN Committee Against Torture to conduct visits to places of detention, including prisons and immigration detention centres.

This mechanism would complement arrangements already in place in Australia that ensure detainees are treated with humanity, and in accordance with internationally accepted standards.

The Howard Government voted against the Torture Protocol before the UN General Assembly and refused outright to sign it.

"Today I have written to my State and Territory counterparts to consult them on Australia acceding to the Torture Protocol.  This is a necessary step towards Australia becoming a party to this important instrument," Mr McClelland said.

"This sends a strong international message that torture is completely out of place in a humane and civilised society.  It demonstrates the Government's commitment to strengthening Australia's engagement with the United Nations," Mr Smith said.

An Australian delegation appeared before the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva this week.

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