The 10th of December marks International Human Rights Day. On that date, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR sets out the inalienable rights to which everyone is entitled as a human being. These rights belong to all regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
In 2019, Queensland became the third State or Territory in Australia to enact specific legislative protection of human rights. The passage of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) was, in the true sense of the phrase, a historic moment for Queenslanders. 2020 was the first year that the Act was in operation and what a year it has been!
The global pandemic saw many human rights challenges especially to those most disadvantaged and vulnerable. Safeguarding the right to health and the right to life was, of course, paramount. However, it did not stop there. Protecting workers’ rights, promoting the safe release of vulnerable prisoners and assisting those at risk of homelessness were just some of the many other human rights challenges that our community faced.
International Human Rights Day is an opportunity to promote awareness about human rights among people, co-operate in highlighting specific human rights issues and to encourage groups most vulnerable to human rights abuses to seek assistance. As a legal profession, we share these responsibilities.
Queensland Law Society (QLS) proudly proclaims that we advocate for “good law, good lawyers and the public good”. This is more than a catchy motto. It is the foundation upon which our members and the excellent staff at QLS go about their work.
The Queensland Law Society has now released its draft policy position on human rights. The draft document can be accessed here. The policy seeks to affirm our commitment to the protection and promotion of human rights and the rule of law in Queensland. It is designed to act as a framework for our policy activities in relation to human rights, especially in evaluating the substantive merit of legislation, policy and implementation.
The Policy Statement on Human Rights means is the QLS’s pledge of commitment to human rights laws, including:
- Domestic implementation of human rights;
- Advocacy in relation to human rights; and
- Education and public awareness in relation to human rights
The draft was developed by the Society’s Human Rights and Public Law Committee which was established following the passage of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld). There has already been extensive consultation with other committees and now is a great opportunity to please give your feedback. Feedback can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. I thank you for your interest in this important initiative.