Uhuru-Spirit News


April 03, 2017 | Uhuruspirit

Aborigines on the Tiwi Islands in northern Australia

The prevalence of racism against Aboriginal and indigenous people in Australia is "deeply disturbing," a senior United Nations official said Monday after her two-week visit to assess the human rights situation in the country.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said in Canberra that Australia needs a more comprehensive human rights legislative framework to provide stronger protection for the rights of indigenous peoples.

"This (racism) manifests itself in different ways, ranging from public stereotyped portrayals of them as violent criminals, welfare profiteers and poor parents, and to discrimination in the administration of justice," Tauli-Corpuz said.

She also criticized the "incredibly high rate of incarceration" of Aboriginal and indigenous people, saying it is "a major human rights concern."

"The figures are simply astounding. While Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders make up only 3 per cent of the total population, they constitute 27 per cent of the prison population, and much more in some prisons," she said.

"Even more disconcerting is the alarming rate of incarceration of Aboriginal youth," she said, adding "imprisonment is the end result of years of dispossession, discrimination and trauma" faced by Aboriginal populations over the generations.

Last year, another top United Nations official on racism voiced serious concerns regarding the mass incerceration of indigenous Australians calling it "a growing crisis."

"The current policing of indigenous communities is too punitive and need an urgent change as its consequences can only lead to even further devastation of these communities," Mutuma Ruteere, UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism and xenophobia, said.

Tauli-Corpuz also said Aboriginal women endure "unacceptable levels of disadvantage ... on the grounds of gender, race and class and is structurally and institutionally entrenched."

"This discrimination coupled with the lack of culturally appropriate measures to address the issue, fosters a disturbing pattern of violence" against them, she said.

Aboriginal women are reportedly 10 times more likely to die of violent assault and 34 times more likely to be hospitalized as a result of physical assault, compared to non-indigenous women, according to figures.

But an estimated 90 per cent of such crimes are not reported, Tauli-Corpuz said.

The UN special rapporteur said as part of her tour through the country, Aboriginal doctors and patients had told her about racism within the medical sector. She also said institutional racism was identified as an issue in the government’s health plan.

In addition, Tauli-Corpuz believes the country's mainstream education system contained "inadequate components" on Aboriginal history and the impact of colonization.

"The non-recognition of the socio-economic exclusion and the inter-generational trauma of indigenous peoples sadly continues to undermine reconciliation efforts," Tauli-Corpuz said.

- dpa

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