Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein


Human Rights Council - 24th Regular Session

Item 3

Australian statement

Clustered Interactive Dialogue with the Special Rapporteur
on truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence and the
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery

12 September 2013


Australia thanks the Special Rapporteurs for their comprehensive reports on these important issues.

We agree that strong legal frameworks are necessary to combat contemporary forms of slavery. In February 2013, the Australian Parliament further strengthened Australia’s robust legislative response to these crimes by comprehensively criminalising forced labour and servitude, regardless of industry.

Australia is committed to playing a leading role in international efforts to address these heinous practices, including by working with partners in the East Asia region through initiatives such as the Australia-Asia Program to Combat Trafficking in Persons.

We note with interest the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations to businesses. We recognise the important role governments play in leading by example with respect to ethical procurement and are working collaboratively with businesses to consider ways to combat exploitation in supply chains. We would welcome the Special Rapporteur’s views on ways that businesses, NGOs and Government can work together to combat contemporary forms of slavery.

Australia welcomes the identification of the many challenges faced by truth commissions and the practical measures suggested by the Special Rapporteur on truth, justice, reparation and non-recurrence for strengthening their effectiveness. We agree with the Special Rapporteur’s advice that “truth cannot be a substitute for justice”. Our firm belief is that, while timing can be important in the context of ongoing conflicts, without justice it is difficult to establish an inclusive and lasting peace.

In Australia’s view, those accused of the most serious international crimes must be held to account through criminal investigation and, where appropriate, prosecution, in accordance with international standards. While our collective experience demonstrates that truth and reconciliation processes can help end cycles of violence, in order to truly end impunity for serious international crimes we must ensure that these processes complement, not replace, criminal justice processes.

We note the Special Rapporteur’s observation in his report that ‘the perpetrator/victims line’ is often porous and are interested in the Special Rapporteur’s views on how we best manage situations where victims, such as child soldiers, commit serious international crimes against others?