AUSTRALIA ACCUSED OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS

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UN panel probes treatment of aborigines, asylum seekers

By Rachael Brown MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Aug. 10, 2010) - Australia has appeared before a United Nations panel in Geneva, accused of human rights violations against Aboriginal people and asylum seekers.

The UN panel is investigating whether the Australian government has singled out Aborigines and asylum seekers with racist policies.

The panel has suggested Australia consider a treaty with its Indigenous people.

Three years into the intervention program in the Northern Territory, the panel is concerned some discriminatory policies remain and that there is a lack of Indigenous inclusion in local decision making.

[PIR editor’s note: The Aborigines, or indigenous Australians, currently make up approximately 2.7 percent of Australia's population. During the beginning of European settlement there were about 300 spoken languages with 600 dialects. Today, fewer than 200 languages remain. In February 2008, BBC News reported Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologized in parliament to all Aborigines for laws and policies that "inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss". See story.]

The Australian government was also pressed on its decision to suspend new immigration claims from Sri Lankan and Afghan asylum seekers.

The government will present its reply overnight.

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