The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities: Does it Protect and Uphold Human Rights?

1788 Words8 Pages
The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities: Does it Protect and Uphold Human Rights?

Upholding human rights is essential for ensuring a fair and equitable society. In 1966, Australia and a majority of the world’s nations signed on to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). After the atrocities committed in World War II this seemed like a positive step for ensuring acknowledgement and respect for the rights and freedoms of all people. However, the means of enforcing human rights is not a straightforward process. In response to ratifying the ICCPR, Australia set up the Australian Human Rights Commission. However, after a number of failed attempts, it has not followed through with implementing a
…show more content…
I will address each of these mechanisms in turn.

The charter binds Public Authorities to act in a way that is compatible with human rights. However, crucial to interpreting the effectiveness of this obligation affecting legislation, is the definition of what a Public Authority is. Since the charter is constructed to affect legislation, it is tempting to misinterpret “Public Authority” to mean actors with Legislative or Jurisdictive power. However, the provided definition specifically excludes:
“(i) Parliament or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in Parliament; or
(j) a court or tribunal except when it is action in an administrative capacity”
(Victorian Government 2006)
This exclusion leaves the obligations of Public Authorities on the shoulders of; Public Officials, working in an administrative capacity; any entity with public function; The Victorian police; local government; ministers; and members of a parliamentary committee when working in an administrative capacity. This means that when members are authoring legislation, or when the judiciary is scrutinising legislation, the actors involved are not obliged to act in a compatible way with the charter. This makes enforcing legislation to be compatible with human rights nearly impossible, as there is no responsibility for the authors of that legislation to abide by the charter.

An analysis of the detail of how the charter is applied, and what

More about The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities: Does it Protect and Uphold Human Rights?

Open Document