ALHR letter to Prime Minister regarding handling of sexual assault allegations

March 20, 2021

On 12 March 2021 ALHR wrote to the Prime Minister to express concern over the recent allegations of sexual assault that are said to have occurred inside Parliament House as well as those made against Attorney-General, Christian Porter MP.

ALHR is deeply troubled by the serious violations of human rights alleged to have taken place against women by the Federal Government’s Cabinet Minister and ministerial staff.

Pursuant to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Australia is required to take all necessary action to ensure equality between men and women before the law and the elimination of discrimination against women, in all its forms. The Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (the Act) is the legal framework by which Australia implements its international obligations under CEDAW. The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women has recognised that the prohibition of gender-based violence against women has evolved into a principle of customary international law, binding all States.

ALHR welcomes the Government’s recent announcement to establish an independent review into Commonwealth Parliamentary workplaces, led by the Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins.

With regard to the allegations of sexual assault against the Attorney-General, ALHR is discouraged to hear that legal advice has not, and will not, be sought in relation to the appropriateness of an independent inquiry on this matter.

ALHR notes royal commissions and non-legal independent inquiries are frequently conducted fairly in accordance with the principles of natural justice or procedural fairness and do not undermine the rule of law or the presumption of innocence.

Australia has a long record of defending and advocating for the advancement of women’s rights through its diplomacy and international development activities. ALHR is proud that Australia is a strong proponent of gender equality internationally. We call on the Government to act with the same rigour and level of concern for the rights of women here in Australia.

Read the letter in full here.