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Human rights spotlight

14 Feb 2020

Right to protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment

Queensland’s newly enacted Human Rights Act has outlined new protections to stop people being tortured or treated in a way that is cruel, inhuman or degrading. This includes specific provisions to protect Queenslanders involved in medical or scientific treatment.

Section 17 of the Human Rights Act 2019 states that a person must not be:

  • subjected to torture; or
  • treated or punished in a cruel, inhuman or degrading way; or
  • subjected to medical or scientific experimentation or treatment without the person’s full, free and informed consent.

Human Rights Act violations in this space could include laws, policies, acts or decisions that:

  • cause a person serious physical or mental pain or suffering, or humiliate them
  • affect the operation of detention facilities and conditions attached to all forms of state care and detention (including access to goods and services, such as medical treatment, while in detention)
  • involve crisis intervention strategies or behavioural management plans that include the use of seclusion, chemical restraint or physical restraint
  • define and regulate procedures for obtaining consent to medical treatment and experiments
  • regulate medical treatment of people without their consent; or
  • regulate the conduct of medical or scientific research.

Cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment is a broader concept than torture. It often refers to treatment that is less severe than torture or that does not meet the definition of torture, involving abuse or humiliation, or acts that cause mental suffering, debase a person, or cause fear, anguish or a sense of inferiority.

Read more about Queensland’s newly enacted right to protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.


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