A vote for human rights
Amnesty International celebrated its 60th birthday last year. As a non-partisan organisation advocating on human rights issues, Amnesty believes that human rights impact all aspects of governments’ decisions.
The federal election on May 21 will give candidates, if elected, the opportunity to create outcomes that will have positive repercussions for generations. Almost every issue of concern to voters has a human right impact, be it climate change, affordable housing, public health and age care, education, violence against women and children, refugees and asylum seekers, industrial relations, Indigenous issues, integrity, LGBTQIA+ issues to name a few.
Australia does not have a national human rights act, enshrining human rights protection in law. The ACT, Queensland and Victoria have legislated their own. Tasmania, unfortunately so far has not.
Amnesty strongly believes that human rights should be a central part of the conversation in the
coming election.
In Tasmania, Amnesty Southern Group has campaigned consistently and jointly with other organisations to raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility (MACR) from 10 to at least 14 years.
We firmly believe that no child that young should enter the criminal youth justice system: that preventative and diversionary measures and a better understanding of the trauma driving these children to commit antisocial or harmful acts should inform the government’s response. This issue affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children significantly more than any other children.
The Tasmanian Legislative Council passed a motion of support to raise the MACR from 10 to 14 years in October of last year.
However, the Attorney-General, Elise Archer, subsequently announced that the Tasmanian government would support the development of a national proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years. No time frame has been announced for this and children will continue to be criminalised rather than being rehabilitated in a therapeutic way responding to their pressing needs.
This urgent reform is barely mentioned in the Tasmanian Government discussion paper about reforming the youth justice system and we fear these children will be forgotten again.
Amnesty has requested all candidates to indicate their position on human rights for the future of the Tasmanian community, Australia and the world. We would particularly like to know what candidates think about raising the age of criminal responsibility in Tasmania from 10 to 14 years. Amnesty is looking forward to being informed by their views and hopes that voters will make their decision accordingly.
Sylvia Merope
Amnesty Southern Group

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