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By Professor Sarah Joseph, Castan Centre Director

Since our inaugural Castan Centre Human Rights Report last April, it has felt as if the number of human rights issues facing people around the world is overwhelming.

The Castan Centre has found itself working on a number of fronts to promote and protect human rights. Some of those areas will be very familiar to our supporters, and some will be quite novel.

Indigenous Australians continue to face enormous obstacles to ‘closing the gap' in the face of large budget cuts and entrenched bureaucratic barriers. For example, a multi-year research project by Castan Centre staff has revealed that unregistered births, which disproportionately affect Indigenous people, can increase imprisonment rates.

The assault on asylum seekers' human rights continues unabated. In this report, two pieces look at the latest legislative and policy changes. Entrenched political opinion on this issue may make it seem futile to address refugee rights at this time. However, there will likely be consequences for the perpetration of such grave human rights abuses, as mentioned in my introductory piece.

Prisoners' rights is another topic that rarely draws sympathy from the general public.  As prisons are so far from the public eye and prisoners so susceptible to abuse, it is a vital human rights issue nonetheless. In this report, we look at how lawyers and judges often fail to use human rights laws to protect prisoners, while in other cases novel methods are being used to hold prison authorities to account.

The nexus between human rights here and overseas has never been greater - from commercial surrogacy to LGBT rights, land grabs and international criminal law to the death penalty, Australians are increasingly grappling with complex human rights issues.

This report - which covers just some of the many issues facing humanity today - reminds us that there has rarely been a more important time to stand up for human rights, both here and around the world. The report coincides with our annual appeal, and we hope that you will choose to support us at this crucial moment.

A PDF copy of the 2015 Castan Human Rights report is available here.

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