Press releases

Bill of rights puts limits on the right to life: ACT will violate international human rights law

Human rights will be taken away from our smallest citizens if the ACT Government’s Human Rights Bill 2003 is passed, president of the ACT Right to Life Association, Mary Joseph, said today.

The ACT’s proposed Bill of Rights was introduced into the ACT Legislative Assembly in November last year as the Human Rights Bill 2003 by the Stanhope Government.

“The Government claims the Bill is based on the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), but it violates Article 6 of the Covenant which protects the right to life without any qualification or limitation whatsoever. This Bill states that the right to life ‘shall apply to a person from the point of birth'”, Ms Joseph said.

“The ‘from the point of birth’ condition is an exclusionary clause that is found nowhere in the ICCPR or in international human rights law. It is an express violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which Australia has signed and ratified. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognises children’s rights to ‘special safeguards and care’ including ‘appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth’.

Article 4 of the ICCPR stipulates that no government can derogate from the right to life even in times of “public emergency” and Article 50 states that no federal state may put limits on any of the rights contained in the Covenant.

“The human rights of children before as well as after birth have been recognised for 80 years, going back to the Geneva Declaration of 1924. They cannot be taken away by the ACT Government.

“Members of the ACT Legislative Assembly should reject the Bill of Rights if it does not recognise the right to life of our smallest citizens, even up to the point of birth.”

Issued:    02 March 2004
Contact:  Mary Joseph, president of the ACT Right to Life Association Inc,
telephone 02 6253 3100.