Issue 15
Monday, 11 September 2017
Charles Darwin University
Australian Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow will deliver the seventh Austin Asche Oration in Law and Governance
Australian Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow will deliver the seventh Austin Asche Oration in Law and Governance

Lecture to shine light on detainee torture

By Leanne Miles

The Australian Human Rights Commissioner will examine how ratifying a treaty on torture could improve the rights of detainees, when he presents the seventh Charles Darwin University Austin Asche Oration in Law and Governance this month.

Edward Santow began his five-year term at the Australian Human Rights Commission in August 2016 and will deliver the lecture, titled “Making detention safe and humane: can we grasp a once-in-a generation opportunity?”, on Tuesday, 19 September.

“In February 2017, the Federal Government made what could be the single most positive step in a generation towards protecting the human rights of detainees,” Mr Santow said.

“By announcing that it will ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT) by December, the Government has committed to establish a regime of independent inspections for all places of detention in Australia, including prisons, youth detention centres, mental health facilities and immigration detention centres.”

Mr Santow said evidence before the Royal Commission into the Protection and Detention of Children in the Northern Territory was further confirmation action was needed.

“OPCAT presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shine a light in these dark places, to cease detention practices we know to be harmful, and to learn from best practice in Australia and around the world,” he said.

As Human Rights Commissioner, Edward Santow leads the Commission’s work on OPCAT and has primary responsibility for the Commission’s work on freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of religion, and on marriage equality and other human rights issues affecting LGBTI Australians.

Previously a Senior Lecturer at UNSW Law School, he is a Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of New South Wales and serves on a number of boards and committees, including the Australia Pro Bono Centre.

His areas of expertise include human rights, administrative and constitutional law, discrimination and freedom of information. In 2017 he was recognised as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum.

The Austin Asche Oration in Law and Governance honours the service of The Hon Austin Asche AC QC to the people of the Northern Territory and his contribution to the law, tertiary education and to the community.

The lecture will be held on Tuesday 19 September from 5pm to 7pm at the Nitmiluk Lounge, Level 4, Parliament House, Darwin. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVP is essential E: and T: 08 8946 6554.