C v Australia (HRC, 2002)

Violations: ICCPR art 7, ICCPR art 9(4), ICCPR art 9(1)

Potential violations: ICCPR art 7

Remedy's assessment: Partially remedied

The UN says:

As to the violations of articles 7 and 9 suffered by the author during the first period of detention, the State party should pay the author appropriate compensation. As to the proposed deportation of the author, the State party should refrain from deporting the author to Iran. The State party is under an obligation to avoid similar violations in the future.

HRC (2002)

Mr C, an Assyrian Christian from Iran, came to Australia in 1992, to join family members who had already been accepted by Australia as refugees. He was detained in immigration detention and his refugee application was denied. Acquiring serious mental illness in detention, he was released on health grounds in August 1994. Later that month he submitted a fresh protection application and, in February 1995, he was accepted as a refugee.

However, Mr C was still suffering severe mental health problems and his threatening behaviour while in a delusional state led to his being sentenced to gaol for three-and-a-half years. With the benefit of sound psychiatric care in the prison hospital, he made ‘dramatic’ improvement and the Immigration Department’s own psychiatrist pronounced that he was no danger to anyone. However, as a non-citizen with a custodial sentence exceeding 12 months, he was slated for deportation. Granted parole in December 1998, he was not released, but transferred to immigration detention from whence he challenged his deportation.

The HRC accepted ‘unanimous’ evidence that immigration detention had been the cause of mental illness in this man with no psychiatric history, that his mental illness was the ‘direct cause’ of his offending and that, with appropriate medical care, he was unlikely to re-offend. As well as being arbitrary and lacking judicial review, in violation of article 9, his detention became ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment’ once it was evident that it was causing his deteriorating mental health, a violation of article 7. To deport Mr C to Iran would also breach article 7. The Committee recommended that Australia should not deport Mr C and should pay him ‘appropriate compensation’ and ‘avoid similar violations in the future’.

Mr C’s refugee visa was ultimately reinstated and he was released from detention, but he has not been compensated.

For source details, see Remedy Australia's 2014 Follow-up Report (PDF 1.3Mb).

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