Dr Penelope Mathew is the Human Rights Legal and Policy Adviser to the Human Rights Commission in the Australian Capital Territory. During her time at the Human Rights Commission, Pene conducted the Human Rights Audit of the ACT’s Correctional Facilities – a year-long empirical project which documented and assessed practises in the ACT’s remand centres against international human rights standards for the treatment of prisoners. She has written numerous advices and submissions on complex issues concerning the implications of the ACT’s Human Rights Act for suggested reforms to the protection against double jeopardy, governmental responses to disease pandemics, the previous federal government’s proposal for an ‘access card’, and many other issues. She has also contributed to the Commission’s work in relation to litigation concerning the ACT’s Discrimination Act and its intersection with the Human Rights Act.
Pene is an academic with 15 years’ experience researching and teaching about human rights, particularly the rights of refugees. She also has extensive field and advocacy experience, including work with the Jesuit Refugee Service in the Hong Kong refugee camps; many appearances before the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee as an expert in international human rights law; and provision of advice to lawyers running refugee cases.
Her expertise is internationally recognised. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has called upon her expertise on a number of occasions, as has the International Association for Refugee Law Judges. In August 2008, she will be taking up a position as Visiting Professor and Interim Director of the Refugee Law and Asylum Program at the University of Michigan Law School.