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A group of Torres Strait Islanders is filing a human rights complaint against the Australian Government. They say a lack of action on climate change is washing away their human rights.

When Cyclone Trevor smashed into Queensland and the Northern Territory in March, it tore a trail of destruction that stretched hundreds of kilometres. The effects were felt as far north as the Torres Strait, where a storm surge and huge tides washed away metres of beaches in just a few days.

Lawyer Sophie Marjanac was there at the time, on Masig (also known as Yorke Island), preparing for a human rights complaint to be filed against Australia with the United Nations.

The case, which was announced in May but had until recently escaped the attention of major media, claims that by failing to take “adequate action” to reduce the impact of climate change, the government has failed to meet human rights obligations to the residents under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The claimants – resident Indigenous Australians – argue that the Australian government has violated their fundamental right to maintain their culture.

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