Why a Human Rights Act for Canberra (ACT) not Australia?

The Human Rights Act was passed on 2 March 2017.  I remember exactly what I was doing that day.  For me the right to Freedom of Speech, the Right to a Fair Hearing, the Right to Equality and Equality before the law are important.  I’ve experienced myself silenced, repressed, denied a fair hearing, without advocacy or representation, no response to duress to the point of suicide (right to life) and inequality.  It has been a journey that has deeply embedded in myself the importance of rights and how it feels to be denied dignity.  I note that rights are only necessary when values are not integrated in human beings.  If you feel empathy you will not violate another’s rights, if you feel compassion you will care what happens to them.  If you don’t you will look upon their plight with isolating indifference and walk away in denial of responsibility.

I would like to add the most important right.  Is the right to NOT be surveilled secretly, tracked or monitored via phone, computer unless there is a suspected crime with evidence.  The right to privacy is key.  This is a right all Australian’s (and other nation states) are in danger of losing.  There are people in positions of power who do not respect rights at all.  I have experienced no duty of care or compassion for suffering. It has been a real wake up call for me.    


Here are some excerpts out of the Human Rights Act of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT)


1 Human rights are necessary for individuals to live lives of dignity and value. 

2 Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of individuals improves the welfare of the whole community. 

3 Human rights are set out in this Act so that individuals know what their rights are. 

4 Setting out these human rights also makes it easier for them to be taken into consideration in the development and interpretation of legislation. 

5 This Act encourages individuals to see themselves, and each other, as the holders of rights, and as responsible for upholding the human rights of others.

 6 Few rights are absolute.  Human rights may be subject only to the reasonable limits in law that can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.  One individual’s rights may also need to be weighed against another individual’s rights. 

7 Although human rights belong to all individuals, they have special significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples—the first owners of this land, members of its most enduring cultures, and individuals for whom the issue of rights protection has great and continuing importance.

 Part 3 Civil and political rights Note The primary source of these rights is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
8 Recognition and equality before the law  (1) Everyone has the right to recognition as a person before the law.  (2) Everyone has the right to enjoy his or her human rights without distinction or discrimination of any kind.  (3) Everyone is equal before the law and is entitled to the equal protection of the law without discrimination.  In particular, everyone has the right to equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground. 

Examples of discrimination Discrimination because of race, colour, sex, sexual orientation, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, disability or other status. Note An example is part of the Act, is not exhaustive and may extend, but does not limit, the meaning of the provision in which it appears (see Legislation Act, s 126 and s 132).
9 Right to life  (1) Everyone has the right to life. In particular, no-one may be arbitrarily deprived of life.  (2) This section applies to a person from the time of birth

 10 Protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment etc  (should include psychological)

(1) No-one may be—  (a) tortured; or  (b) treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way.  (2) No-one may be subjected to medical or scientific experimentation or treatment without his or her free consent.

 12 Privacy and reputation

Everyone has the right—  (a) not to have his or her privacy, family, home or correspondence interfered with unlawfully or arbitrarily; and  (b) not to have his or her reputation unlawfully attacked.

Freedom of movement

Everyone has the right to move freely within the ACT and to enter and leave it, and the freedom to choose his or her residence in the ACT.
14 Freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief 

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.  This right includes—  (a) the freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his or her choice; and  (b) the freedom to demonstrate his or her religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching, either individually or as part of a community and whether in public or private.  (2) No-one may be coerced in a way that would limit his or her freedom to have or adopt a religion or belief in worship, observance, practice or teaching.
15 Peaceful assembly and freedom of association 

(1) Everyone has the right of peaceful assembly.  (2) Everyone has the right to freedom of association.
16 Freedom of expression 

(1) Everyone has the right to hold opinions without interference.  (2) Everyone has the right to freedom of expression.  This right includes the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of borders, whether orally, in writing or in print, by way of art, or in another way chosen by him or her.

 17 Taking part in public life

Every citizen has the right, and is to have the opportunity, to—  (a) take part in the conduct of public affairs, directly or through freely chosen representatives; and  (b) vote and be elected at periodic elections, that guarantee the free expression of the will of the electors; and  (c) have access, on general terms of equality, for appointment to the public service and public office.
18 Right to liberty and security of person 

(1) Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person.  In particular, no-one may be arbitrarily arrested or detained.  (2) No-one may be deprived of liberty, except on the grounds and in accordance with the procedures established by law.  (3) Anyone who is arrested must be told, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for the arrest and must be promptly told about any charges against him or her.  (4) Anyone who is arrested or detained on a criminal charge—  (a) must be promptly brought before a judge or magistrate; and  (b) has the right to be tried within a reasonable time or released.  (5) Anyone who is awaiting trial must not be detained in custody as a general rule, but his or her release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceeding, and, if appropriate, for execution of judgment.  (6) Anyone who is deprived of liberty by arrest or detention is entitled to apply to a court so that the court can decide, without delay, the lawfulness of the detention and order the person’s release if the detention is not lawful.  (7) Anyone who has been unlawfully arrested or detained has the right to compensation for the arrest or detention.  (8) No-one may be imprisoned only because of the inability to carry out a contractual obligation.

 21 Fair trial 

(1) Everyone has the right to have criminal charges, and rights and obligations recognised by law, decided by a competent, independent and impartial court or tribunal after a fair and public hearing.  (2) However, the press and public may be excluded from all or part of a trial—  (a) to protect morals, public order or national security in a democratic society; or  (b) if the interest of the private lives of the parties require the exclusion; or  (c) if, and to the extent that, the exclusion is strictly necessary, in special circumstances of the case, because publicity would otherwise prejudice the interests of justice.  (3) But each judgment in a criminal or civil proceeding must be made public unless the interest of a child requires that the judgment not be made public.

 22 Rights in criminal proceedings  (should be civil as well)

(1) Everyone charged with a criminal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.  (2) Anyone charged with a criminal offence is entitled to the following minimum guarantees, equally with everyone else:  (a) to be told promptly and in detail, in a language that he or she understands, about the nature and reason for the charge;  (b) to have adequate time and facilities to prepare his or her defence and to communicate with lawyers or advisors chosen by him or her;  (c) to be tried without unreasonable delay;

(d) to be tried in person, and to defend himself or herself personally, or through legal assistance chosen by him or her;  (e) to be told, if he or she does not have legal assistance, about the right to legal assistance chosen by him or her;  (f) to have legal assistance provided to him or her, if the interests of justice require that the assistance be provided, and to have the legal assistance provided without payment if he or she cannot afford to pay for the assistance;  (g) to examine prosecution witnesses, or have them examined, and to obtain the attendance and examination of witnesses on his or her behalf under the same conditions as prosecution witnesses;  (h) to have the free assistance of an interpreter if he or she cannot understand or speak the language used in court;  (i) not to be compelled to testify against himself or herself or to confess guilt.  (3) A child who is charged with a criminal offence has the right to a procedure that takes account of the child’s age and the desirability of promoting the child’s rehabilitation.  (4) Anyone convicted of a criminal offence has the right to have the conviction and sentence reviewed by a higher court in accordance with law.
23 Compensation for wrongful conviction  (1) This section applies if—  (a) anyone is convicted by a final decision of a criminal offence; and  (b) the person suffers punishment because of the conviction; and  (c) the conviction is reversed, or he or she is pardoned, on the ground that a new or newly discovered fact shows conclusively that there has been a miscarriage of justice. (2) If this section applies, the person has the right to be compensated according to law.  (3) However, subsection (2) does not apply if it is proved that the nondisclosure of the unknown fact in time is completely or partly the person’s own doing.



Mohandas Gandhi

“An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.”