Where are these rights described and how do they apply?
In October 2016 a representative of the United Nations (UN) met a group of Queenslanders as part of his investigations into the possible violation of the rights of local defenders of human rights.
Michel Forst is the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHCR) Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders. His main mission as an independent expert is to inform on the risks and threats human rights defenders face on the ground.
Mr Forst met Queensland members of the Western Downs and Wider Unconventional Gas Group (WDWUGG) to discuss their concerns about human rights violations regarding unconventional gas including coal seam gas (CSG) and underground coal gasification (UCG).
As Human Rights Defenders in this situation, the WDWUGG identified for the Special Rapporteur the major challenges they face in this area is the Australian and Queensland Government themselves.
Although for the general public it is tempting for issues surrounding human rights to bring up visions of third world countries and slave labour, there are real human rights violations occurring here in the Western Downs, and it is being perpetrated with a Government Permit and subsidies for multinational companies through the unconventional gas industry.
There is no obligation for the Queensland Government (or Australian Government) to consider human rights in policy or bills before parliament, and no ability for people to seek redress if their rights are violated.
The WDWUGG also shared with the Mr Forst the following issues fundamental to the major challenges of addressing the human rights violations of unconventional gas:
- the lack of human rights law and inclusion of human rights’ considerations in governmental policy generally, and specifically in relation to decisions made to subsidise and sanction unconventional gas.
- The Government failure to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
- The revolving door and financial connections between government and unconventional gas.
- Party-based politics is the major limiting factor in enabling the governmentto achieve its first mandate – to represent and be representative of the people, the cornerstone of ensuring human rights considerations become core.
- the enactment of regressive laws restricting the right to peaceful protest and to freedom of the press
In answer to the complicated issue of what are the rights and how are they applied, the following document has been prepared and added to the Introduction to the Sessions page.