Australia to sign UN torture treaty

March 1st, 2008 - 6:08 pm ICT by admin  

Sydney, March 1 (DPA) Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd plans to sign an enforcement measure of the United Nations convention against torture, in a further step that distances him from his predecessor, news reports said Saturday. The conservative government under John Howard refused to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture in 2004, arguing that Australia’s record on human rights meant accession was superfluous.

The protocol, which was agreed in 2002 and came into force in 2006, allows the UN to enforce the convention against torture through international inspections of country prisons.

Rudd is also considering introducing laws in Australia making torture an offence, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The move would further isolate the US, which has refused to sign the protocol and where the administration of President George W. Bush has come under international criticism for using “extraordinary rendition” policies to transport detainees for interrogation to countries that practise torture.

“Labour is committed to ratifying the Optional Protocol on torture, and we will soon be consulting the states and territories as to how that can be achieved,” Attorney General Robert McClelland said.

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