A Cambodian man known as ‘A’ arrived in Australia by boat in 1989 with his wife and children. The family was detained for more than four years until the success of Mrs A’s refugee claim. The HRC found that Australia’s system of ‘indefinite and prolonged’ mandatory detention constitutes arbitrary detention. The family’s right to have their detention reviewed by a court, and their right to an effective remedy, were also violated. Australia rejected the Committee’s interpretation of the ICCPR and refused to compensate the A family.
Read more on A v Australia.
A woman claimed the ‘Work for the Dole’ scheme, whereby welfare payments were made conditional on participation in labour programmes, constituted compulsory labour. The HRC did not agree on that point, but did find that, in failing to provide a general domestic mechanism by which to ‘test an arguable claim under … the Covenant’, Australia had violated Ms Faure’s right to remedy. The Committee held that ‘its Views on the merits of the claim constitute[d] sufficient remedy’ in this instance, but that Australia ought to ensure that, in future, ‘an effective and enforceable remedy’ is available to all within its jurisdiction for any violation of the ICCPR. Australia has not introduced such a remedy.
Read more on Faure v Australia.
Hew Griffiths, an Australian permanent resident, was indicted in the US for breach of copyright for making proprietary software and computer games freely available online, without financial gain.
Mr Griffiths was arrested and held on remand for periods totalling more than 3 years before he was extradited to face the charge of conspiracy to commit copyright infringement. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 51 months in prison, taking account of the time already served.
The Human Rights Committee found that Mr Griffiths’ disproportionately long and unjustified detention constituted arbitrary detention, and that he was denied the opportunity to challenge his detention.
Mr Griffiths is entitled to compensation, including his legal costs. Australia ought to review its Extradition Act to prevent future violations of articles 2 and 9.
Read more on Griffiths v Australia.
Australian man David Hicks was captured in Afghanistan in 2001 and detained by the US at Guantánamo Bay. In 2007, he was tried by Military Commission and sentenced to 7 years’ jail. Under a prisoner transfer agreement, Hicks was moved to Australia, where he served 7 months of his sentence, the remainder being suspended. Hicks claims his military trial was unfair, his conviction unlawfully retrospective and his detention arbitrary.
The UN Human Rights Committee found that Australia imprisoning Mr Hicks for 7 months following his return to Australia amounted to arbitrary detention, but that no individual remedy was owed to Mr Hicks because Australia’s “actions were intended to benefit” him. Australia is nonetheless obliged to “prevent similar violations in the future.”
Read more on Hicks v Australia.
In 1996, 21-year-old Corinna Horvath was assaulted by police during an unlawful raid on her home. Her nose was broken and she was hospitalised for 5 days. Despite her case reaching the High Court of Australia, Ms Horvath has still not received the compensation awarded to her by the County Court when it first heard the case in 2001. Further, none of the police involved has been disciplined or prosecuted for what the Court found to be trespass, assault, unlawful arrest and false imprisonment. Ms Horvath seeks compensation and effective discipline of the police officers involved. In 2014, the UN Human Rights Committee found that her right to an effective remedy has been violated and recommended legislative reform and compensation.
Read more on Horvath v Australia.