First Nations authors living on low-lying islands in the Torres Strait argued that the Australian Government failed to adopt infrastructure to protect their livelihoods and communities from the impacts of climate change, and failed to mitigate climate change by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In particular, the authors claimed that severe flooding and other changes in weather patterns destroyed graves and impacted their ability to conduct spiritual ceremonies. The Committee found violations of articles 17 and 27 of the ICCPR (interference with home and family; and minorities' cultural rights).
Read more on Billy et al. v Australia.
A court deciding competing native title claims by 2 First Nations for the same land arbitrarily refused to allow one party to table evidence and refused its request for adjournment. That party – the authors of this communication – was unrepresented, ineligible for legal aid, and misunderstood the law and facts of the proceedings. The court recognised the native title of the competing mob, extinguishing the authors’ rights to their Country, without any avenue for appeal. The authors, represented by an elder named Ailsa Roy, claim that losing their traditional lands means “the dissolution of their culture” and their destruction as a people.
The UN Human Rights Committee found violations of their rights to equality before the law and fair trial (art 14(1)); of their right to an effective remedy (art 2(3)) and of their cultural rights as a minority (art 27) read in the light of their right to self-determination (art 1) and of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The Committee recommended, inter alia, a re-examination of the authors’ native title claim, ensuring their effective participation.
Read more on Roy v Australia.