International perspectives on mandatory sentencing


This paper provides an overview of international human rights standards relevant to mandatory sentencing, which include various provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, which is particularly relevant to the unequal impact of mandatory sentencing on Indigenous Australians, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Australia’s mandatory sentencing laws have been examined by three of the United Nations human rights treaty bodies, each of which has concluded that the laws violate Australia’s obligations under relevant international human rights instruments. The paper also analyses the hostile response of the Federal Government to international human rights scrutiny by the UN, and argues that it must be in Australia’s best interests to assist the UN and its bodies in establishing an international rule of law that applies to the powerful as well as the weak.

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