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Commission launches Human Rights Register

Melbourne's Catholic Commission for Justice, Development and Peace (CCJDP) yesterday launched its fourth annual rating of Australia's human rights performance.

Known as the Human Rights Register, the initiative aims to provide an overview of positive and negative aspects of human rights developments from the perspective of Australian non-government organisations.

The Register was launched by former High Court judge and President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Sir Ronald Wilson, together with Baptist Union President Rev. Tim Costello, Liberty Victoria's Chris Maxwell QC and Judge John Hassett of the CCJDP.

Most prominent on the Register were the issues of the mandatory detention of asylum seekers and refugees, ongoing inequalities faced by Aboriginal Australians, and Australia's partial withdrawal from the United Nations Human Rights Treaty Processes.

Commenting on the Federal Government's treatment of asylum seekers, Sir Ronald Wilson noted: "The Minister for Immigration, Phillip Ruddock, has done more than anyone to promote antipathy towards asylum seekers in Australia. I do not regard immigrants as 'illegal' in signifying any kind of criminality."

The Human Rights Register is sent to institutions with a responsibility for monitoring human rights, including the Prime Minister, various Federal Government ministers, the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, state and territory governments, UN committees, Amnesty International and the Vatican.