Australia arbitrarily detained deportees for over 3 years
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UN decides 3 new
human rights complaints against Australia

Arbitrary detention & interference with the family

Australia has one of the highest rates in the world of adverse decisions from the UN human rights treaty committees.  We've just clocked our 40th in 21 years.

Half of the individual communications decided against Australia (21 out of 40) concern arbitrary detention -- by this measure, arbitrary detention is a leading human rights violation in Australia today.

For those affected, it's a very serious infringement of their rights.  The UN Special Rapporteur on Reparations has classified arbitrary detention as a gross violation of human rights, alongside genocide and torture.

And 2 of the most recent Australian cases add to the tally.

Griffiths v Australia

NSW man Hew Griffiths was indicted in the USA for breach of copyright for making proprietary software & computer games freely available online, without financial gain.

Griffiths was held on remand for over 3 years before being extradited.  He was sentenced by a US court to 51 months in prison, with time already served taken into account.

The UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) found that Mr Griffiths’ long and unjustified detention was arbitrary, and that he was denied the opportunity to challenge his detention.

Remedy: Mr Griffiths is entitled to compensation, including costs.  Australia ought to review its Extradition Act to prevent future violations of articles 2 and 9.

Read more:
Griffiths v Australia

MGC v Australia

US citizen MGC lived in Australia for 15 years.  He was convicted of a series of offences involving fraud.  Because his prison sentence exceeded 12 months, his visa was cancelled.  He was then detained for 3.5 years prior to deportation.

MGC, having an Australian son, alleged his prolonged detention and permanent deportation interfered with his family.  He also alleged his detention was arbitrary.

The HRC agreed his detention was arbitrary, but not that the interference with his family was arbitrary.

Remedy: Mr MGC is entitled to compensation. Australia should also review its migration legislation to ensure it conforms with article 9 of the ICCPR.

Read more:
MGC v Australia

Leghaei v Australia

Iranian migrant Dr Leghaei was denied permanent residency owing to an undisclosed ASIO assessment.

Dr Leghaei’s wife & 14yo daughter chose to accompany him when he was obliged to leave Australia in 2010.

The HRC found that Australia did not provide “adequate and objective justification” for Leghaei's expulsion & denied him “due process of law”. "Disrupting long-settled family life” by expelling the father and forcing the family to choose whether to accompany him constitutes arbitrary interference with the family.

Remedy: Dr Leghaei is entitled to a meaningful opportunity to challenge the visa refusal; and compensation.  Australia should prevent similar violations in future.

Read more:
Leghaei et al. v Australia

Echoing themes of criminal deportation & interference with the family ...

In June & July, ABC-TV screened a joint ABC/Fairfax investigation into Calabrian mafia activity in Australia.  The courageous 2-part programme features Frank Madafferi (pictured), principal author of Madafferi & Madafferi v Australia.  This 2004 decision found numerous breaches & potential breaches of the ICCPR in the course of extradition proceedings against Mr Madafferi, including inhumane conditions of detention and potential interference with his family.

Remedy: This case was partially remedied when Mr Madafferi's extradition was halted.  In future, Australia must assess visa applications with due regard for the rights of any children affected, says the UN Human Rights Committee.

Watch: the two 45-minute 4 Corners programmes.

What makes detention arbitrary?

In October 2014, the UN Human Rights Committee -- the world's highest authority on the interpretation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights -- issued a clear and practical definition of arbitrary detention.

Read: the UN criteria delineating lawful from arbitrary detention in Remedy Australia's recent op-ed in the Fairfax papers.

Say 'no more' to arbitrary detention:

Ask Peter Dutton to release refugees detained since 2009 & 2010!

Know someone who cares about human rights?  Please share this newsletter or encourage them to subscribe here.

Thank you.
Nick Toonen OAM
Remedy Australia
Dr Olivia Ball
Remedy Australia
Copyright © 2015 Remedy Australia, All rights reserved.

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