Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Geneva, Switzerland
Address: Chemin des Fins 2, Case Postale 102, 1211 Geneva 19 - Telephone: 022 799 9100 - Fax: 022 799 9178

Human Rights Council – 25th Session

Clustered Interactive dialogue with
Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion and the Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism
Australian statement

12 March 2014

 

Australia thanks the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion and the Special Rapporteur on human rights and counter-terrorism for their reports.

Australia believes that it is incumbent upon States to ensure that any measures taken or means employed to counter terrorism comply with their obligations under international law, and to ensure accountability whenever there are violations to human rights.

A central principle of Australia’s counter-terrorism strategy is respect for the rule of law. Australia’s national security and counter-terrorism framework is sufficiently robust to adapt to events and developments as they arise. Australia has a comprehensive range of standing and ad hoc oversight, accountability and review measures for counter-terrorism laws. Such measures ensure that Australia’s counter-terrorism laws remain necessary, appropriate and proportionate to the terrorist threat.

Australia thanks the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief for his report. Australia is home to a diversity of faiths, united by mutual respect and a commitment to democratic traditions. We firmly believe that freedom of religion or belief is a core human right, and that this freedom must be respected in all countries in accordance with human rights law and norms.

We believe that freedom of religion or belief must have a broad scope of application and should be implemented in an open and inclusive manner. The understanding of what constitutes a religion or belief can be varied, and this should be respected. Australians are free to choose their religion or belief, to change their religion, or choose to have no religion at all. We are proud of our diverse society.

The rights of those belonging to religious minorities must be protected. We share the Special Rapporteur’s concern about patterns of violations against the freedom of religion or belief.

We note the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations with regard to public and private media, inter-religious communications and awareness-raising. We would be interested in the Special Rapporteur’s views and guidance on addressing religious and belief-related stereotypes and misperceptions perpetuated through the media.