Australia has too long failed to take measures to protect island inhabitants in the Pacific from the effects of climate change, a decision by the United Nations Human Rights Committee in Geneva says.
"Accordingly, the State party is obligated, inter alia, to provide adequate compensation, to the authors for the harm that they have suffered," the decision on Friday said.
Eight of the Indigenous inhabitants of the Torres-Strait Islands had turned to the committee, arguing that their lives and culture are being threatened by rising sea levels and more common floods.
The UN Committee took into account that a government program for the construction of dams has been in place on the islands since 2019. However, the measures came too late, the committee said.
Fruit trees, gardens, and cemeteries are already being destroyed by rising waters, threatening the inhabitants' way of life. Minority rights, the right to a home, to family, and to privacy have been violated, the committee said.
The decision calls on the government to pay compensation to the inhabitants, which Helene Tigroudja, one of its members, described as an important first step.
"This decision marks a significant development as the Committee has created a pathway for individuals to assert claims where national systems have failed to take appropriate measures to protect those most vulnerable to the negative impacts of climate change on the enjoyment of their human rights," Tigroudja said.
Australian Associated Press
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