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Australia must compensate islanders

Australia must compensate islanders

Eight indigenous islanders contacted a body that monitors compliance with internationally agreed civil and political rights. They argued in their lawsuit that the life and culture of the islands in the Torres Strait between northern Australia and Papua New Guinea are threatened by rising water levels and frequent flooding.

The Human Rights Commission has taken into account that since 2019, the government’s plan to establish seaports on the islands has been implemented. However, this step was taken too late. Fruit trees, orchards and burial grounds important to residents are already being destroyed. Minority rights and rights to housing, private life and family rights have been violated. The decision said Australia must now “compensate the plaintiffs for the damage they have suffered” in accordance with the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The decision is an important step, committee member Helene Dykrudja said: “The committee has created a way for individuals to assert claims when government measures do not adequately protect particularly vulnerable groups from the negative impacts of climate change on human rights.” (sda/dpa)