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Human Rights in Closed Environments

Human Rights in Closed Environments

Edited by Bronwyn Naylor, Julie Debeljak and Anita Mackay


This volume considers the application of human rights in six specific Australian “closed environments” – prisons; police cells; forensic psychiatric institutions; closed mental health units; closed disability units; and immigration detention centres. The publication highlights rights concerns common across the different types of environments, such as the vulnerability of persons held in detention, the tension between respect for rights and safety concerns, and securing a human rights culture in a context of significant power imbalances. It also draws comparisons between the same closed environments in different jurisdictions, examining the “value add” of formal rights instruments. Finally, it considers the role of external monitoring mechanisms (such as, Ombudsmen and Human Rights Commissions) in securing rights respecting environments.

Human Rights in Closed Environments is a special issue (Volume 31) of the journal Law in Context. You can purchase a single copy of this issue through this page, or subscribe to the journal from the journal page.


Introduction: Implementing Human Rights In Closed Environments
Bronwyn Naylor, Julie Debeljak and Anita Mackay

Privatised Immigration Detention Services: Challenges and Opportunities for Implementing Human Rights
Tania Penovic

Human Rights and People with Disabilities in Closed Environments
Patsie Frawley and Bronwyn Naylor

Human Rights and Respect in Prisons: The Prisoners' Perspective
Bronwyn Naylor

Implementing Human Rights in Closed Environments through the United Nations Convention against Torture
Claudio Grossman

Implementing Human Rights in Closed Environments: The OPCAT Framework and the New Zealand Experience
Natalie Pierce

Comparative Experiences of Implementing Human Rights in Closed Environments: Monitoring for Rights Protection
Anne Owers

Changing Cultures in Closed Environments: What Works?
Jem Stevens

Operationalising Human Rights Law in Australia: Establishing a Human Rights Culture in the New Canberra Prison and Transforming the Culture of Victoria Police
Anita Mackay


Since its conception in 1998, the Law in Context academic journal has been a regular source of high-quality and searching critiques on a range of socio-legal matters. This issue is no exception.
          Recent times have seen 
individual human rights coming more and more into forceful collision with frameworks that deprive people of their liberty. Poor conditions and overcrowding plague the Victorian (and national) prison systems. The true effects of the Mental Health Act 2014 are still being gauged. Asylum seekers continue to languish
in offshore detention centres. There has been a dire need for analysis of criminal, mental health and migration policies and laws at the level of sophistication contained in this special issue.
         The papers in this collection examine a range of closed environments, including prisons, police cells, forensic psychiatric institutions, closed mental health and disability units and immigration detention centres. The analysis is guided by “three interlinked and mutually reinforcing pillars” (as set out by the terms of the Australian Research Council Linkage Grant from which the work arises) – regulatory frameworks, independent monitoring and culture change.
         The analytical lens of each of these pillars will usefully inform the interpretation and application of Australia’s obligations under the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Optional Protocol. Moreover, it is the range of closed environments that makes for particularly compelling reading when the papers are taken as a whole. The analysis in each paper informs that of the others and provides the springboard for engaging comparative analysis.
         While the papers in this issue will principally be of interest
to scholars, policymakers and stakeholders, they will also bear interest to the wider legal community as they ought reinvigorate the assessment and critical evaluation of the frameworks confronting advocates.

Adam Chernok, InPrint, Law Institute Journal Victoria, July 2015


Published 30 September 2014
Publisher The Federation Press
ISBN 9781862879652
Australian RRP $59.95
International Price $55.00
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Law - Human Rights
Human Rights & Civil Liberties
Criminology & Policing - Penology & Sentencing

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