Norfolk Islanders go to UN to fight Australia over right to self-govern

Human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson launches legal challenge on behalf of islanders, who say they are a distinct ethnic group

The international human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has launched a legal challenge with the United Nations on behalf of Norfolk Islanders, alleging the Australian government has placed islander’s culture and language at risk by revoking their right to self-govern.

The island – roughly halfway between Australia and New Zealand – had been governed by its legislative assembly since 1979, until the Australian government’s decision in 2015 to revoke its autonomy. Australian federal and state laws are now enforced and islanders are now entitled to Medicare and other government services. Travelling between the island and Australia no longer requires a passport.

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The three localities are...