Rights group Amnesty International slammed Australia on Thursday as Foreign Minister Julie Bishop prepared to launch a bid in New York for a seat on the UN Human Rights Council.

Amnesty International Australia said in a statement that Australia’s bid for the council “glosses over” the country’s issues with refugee, indigenous and asylum-seeker rights.

Amnesty National Director, Claire Mallinson, said: “It’s not enough to talk the talk in New York, this government must must walk the walk at home.

“Australia must demonstrate that it would be a principled, effective and accountable Human Rights Council member.”

Bishop arrived at the UN in New York on Monday.

Before leaving Australia, she said the country’s campaign for the council “reflects our commitment to working with other nations to find long-term practical solutions to complex human rights challenges.”

Since 2016, three UN special rapporteurs who have visited Australia to report on racism, indigenous affairs and migrants, have denounced the government for not doing enough on those issues.

Australia should take the actions recommended by UN experts, Tony Kenyon, president of Australian Lawyers Alliance, said in a statement released Wednesday.

“As Australia seeks election as a member of the UN Human Rights Council, it must demonstrate its commitment to respecting human rights by implementing the recommendations of UN experts,” Kenyon said.

The Australian government has been condemned by the UN, rights groups and even an Australian parliamentary inquiry for the detention and deplorable living conditions of refugees and asylum seekers in off-shore processing centres in the Pacific islands.

Hundreds of detainees, sent to the camps by Australia after they tried to reach the country by boat, have been languishing on Manus Island and Nauru for more than three years.

The government also has been criticised for not addressing the deteriorating conditions of Aboriginal and indigenous Australians, who are near the bottom across economic and social indicators.

“The government continues its inherently abusive offshore detention regime, and oversees astronomical rates of indigenous incarceration,” Amnesty said.

While making up only about three per cent of Australia’s 24 million people, Aboriginal and indigenous Australians make up 27 per cent of the prison population.

The juvenile detention rate is 24 times higher for indigenous Australians than it is for the non-indigenous, and a report said the incarceration rate for indigenous women has risen nearly 250 per cent since 1991.

Indigenous Australians also live 10 years shorter than the non-indigenous population, and indigenous infant mortality is twice as high when compared to the rest of the population.

Employment rates are sliding backwards, with 48.4 per cent of Aborigines in a job in 2014 to 2015, compared to 72.6 per cent for others.


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