Refugees detained forever without knowing why
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Liberty and the presumption

of innocence

Rights we take for granted

These are human rights guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which Australia is legally bound to uphold.

Yet Australia is currently detaining nearly 40 people in clear violation of these and other human rights.  These particular detainees are recognised refugees who cannot return home due to the danger they face there.  However, Australia refuses to let them out of detention due to secret ASIO files.  They are deprived of their liberty, presumed guilty and denied access to the courts to protest their innocence.  This is manifestly unfair.

“Only by exposing ASIO’s allegations to open examination can their truth be tested. Allegations may be false, informants may bear grudges, conduct may have innocent explanations, and intelligence may be misinterpreted.”
-- Prof. Ben Saul, Sydney Law School
International law is clear:
  • Everyone has the right to liberty.  No one shall be subjected to arbitrary detention.
  • Anyone who is arrested shall be promptly informed of the reasons for their arrest and of any charges against them.
  • Everyone has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty.
  • Anyone who is deprived of their liberty by detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court without delay, in order that that court may order their release if the detention is not lawful.
  • Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.
(ICCPR, articles 9 & 14)

In 2011, 46 of these refugees made joint submissions to the UN Human Rights Committee in Geneva, complaining about the fact and conditions of their detention.  The UN found that after 4 to 5 years in detention, they suffered “serious, irreversible psychological harm”.  It identified over 150 violations of the ICCPR, including inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention and denial of the right to challenge their detention.

The UN says they should all be released, offered rehabilitation and compensation.  It defines arbitrary detention as a 'gross' violation of human rights.

Remedy Australia is launching this campaign on the 1st anniversary of the UN decision, noting that Australia has yet to respond to the UN's views, let alone act on them.

Yet there's more.  The UN decision also requires Australia to “review its Migration legislation to ensure its conformity” with the ICCPR.

Five years of injustice and suffering is enough.  Please be a part of this campaign to release, rehabilitate and compensate these refugees.  And to ensure it never happens again.

What can I do?

Read about how the UN found over 150 violations of these refugees' rights
Watch this 4-min video from Lateline last night covering the story
Watch this 4-min video from ABC-TV about 2 of the detainees, brothers from Sir Lanka
Remedy Australia considers these among the most urgent of all the unremedied UN complaints decided against Australia, because these are ongoing violations causing immense human suffering to a large number of people.  Please help to implement the UN's findings and get them released, rehabilitated and compensated.

Thank you so much.
Nick Toonen OAM
Remedy Australia
Dr Olivia Ball
Remedy Australia

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