13 Dec 2018

UN progresses Norfolk petition against Australia

4:23 pm on 13 December 2018

A petition made by Norfolk Islanders alleging Australia breached their civil and political rights has made progress at the United Nations.

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Photo: Norfolk Government

This comes after Canberra ended Norfolk Island's autonomy in 2016, claiming the island could no longer pay its way.

In March, the Norfolk Island Council of Elders appealed the move to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva.

On Monday, the Committee said it had registered the case and given Australia six months to respond to the claims.

Council of Elders President, Albert Buffet, said it was a significant development which will pressure Australia to address Norfolk Islanders' concerns.

"What we're really after is self-determination for Norfolk Island. That we have a say in what we want to govern us. Australia was supposed to be governing us with peace, order and good government. Well, complaints that put forward have put that in doubt."

Geoffrey Robertson, a human rights lawyer who is arguing the case for the Council of Elders, said the decision was a win against the Australian government.

He said it would have important consequences for international law and the rights of indigenous peoples, like Australian aboriginals.

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