Australia’s human rights reputation undermined by lack of transparency in Commissioner appointment

Australia’s international human rights reputation is undermined by processes that lack transparency and result in hand-picked appointments to critical positions within the Human Rights Commission, says the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

We are deeply concerned about the process employed recently by the Government to select the new Australian Human Rights Commissioner,” said Ms Melia Benn, national human rights spokesperson, ALA. “A public, independent merit-based selection process for senior Australian Human Rights Commission appointments must be introduced.

“For the Australian Human Rights Commission to maintain international credibility and legitimacy, appointments to positions such as the Commissioner require a clear, transparent and participatory process. The failure to implement such a process exposes Australia to criticism in the international human rights community.”

The ALA is adding its voice to the call from more than eighty human rights leaders who have urged the Australian Government to mandate a legislated appointment process for all senior leadership roles within the Commission.

“To ensure that the position maintains its independence, it must be subject to an open, transparent process, where the position is advertised and appropriately qualified, senior human rights experts are able to apply,” said Ms Benn.

“Such a process will ensure broader participation and ensure the best quality candidates are considered. It also helps to maintain public confidence in the Human Rights Commission as a fearless, independent agency that holds government to account for human rights compliance.”

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