A family of Hazara asylum seekers claiming to be from Afghanistan was detained on arrival in Australia. Australia determined that the Bakhtiyaris’ claim to be from Afghanistan was not credible; doubt about their origins undermined their refugee claim. The HRC requested a stay of deportation. In its Final Views, the HRC decided that the long-term detention of the family was arbitrary, beyond judicial review, and had not been ‘guided by the best interests of the children’. Further potential violations were found. It proposed that Australia should pay appropriate compensation for these violations. Australia deported the family to Pakistan in 2004, without compensation.
Read more on Bakhtiyari & Bakhtiyari v Australia.
A make-up artist known as D, having participated in the production of pornography in Iran, suffered a beating and short imprisonment. Her husband, E, was also ‘repeatedly arrested and questioned regarding his wife’. They fled Iran with their children, and were detained on arrival in Australia. While Australia accepted that D faced the death penalty in Iran because of her activities, it did not accept that her claim fell under the Refugee Convention. The HRC requested a halt to the family’s deportation; Australia complied. The Committee found the family’s detention of more than 3 years was arbitrary and that Australia should provide an effective remedy, including compensation. The family was eventually granted humanitarian visas to remain in Australia, but has not been paid compensation.
Read more on D & E and their two children v Australia.
This Russian-Australian librarian denies she was the woman who, in 1999, assisted a convicted bank robber to escape prison by hijacking a helicopter. She was tried and sentenced to ten years’ gaol. Ms Dudko was denied the right to attend a High Court appeal, at which she was representing herself due to an inability to obtain Legal Aid. The HRC found a breach of her right to a fair trial and equality before the law, which includes the right to be present in person during a criminal appeal. The HRC said Australia should provide Ms Dudko with an unspecified remedy. No remedy has been forthcoming.
Read more on Dudko v Australia.
Thirty-six Tamils, including 3 children, plus a Rohingya man from Burma, applied for asylum in Australia and were detained. They were later accepted by Australia as refugees, but were not released from detention because ASIO determined that they represented an undisclosed security risk. The HRC issued repeated requests concerning the authors’ mental health, which led to no discernible improvement in their conditions. The HRC found the authors had suffered inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention, denial of habeas corpus and, for 5 of the authors, a denial of the right to be informed of the reasons for one’s arrest. It recommended the authors be released, given rehabilitation and compensation. Further, Australia ‘should review its migration legislation’ to respect the prohibitions on inhuman and degrading treatment and arbitrary detention. As at May 2017, two of the 37 authors remained in immigration detention. (The children and their parents were released in 2013).
Read more on FKAG et al 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.
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.
Ms Kwok fled China when her husband was arrested for corruption offences. He was later sentenced to death. She was wanted for alleged involvement in the ‘same set of circumstances’. China sought her forced repatriation without launching formal extradition proceedings, and Australia was willing to comply. Ms Kwok claimed she would not receive a fair trial in China and could also be sentenced to death. The HRC requested a stay of deportation; Australia complied. The HRC found that Australia should not deport Ms Kwok, as the risk to her life ‘would only be definitively established when it is too late’. It found potential violations of the right to life and the prohibition on torture. It also found that Ms Kwok’s 6½ years in immigration detention was arbitrary detention. Australia should not send Ms Kwok to China ‘without adequate assurances’ from the People’s Republic, and should compensate her for ‘the length of detention to which [she] was subjected’. Ms Kwok was not refouled, but neither has she been compensated.
Read more on Kwok v Australia.
An Iranian couple and their 3 sons migrated to Australia in 1994 on temporary visas and the following year a daughter was born. The family applied for permanent residency, which was refused owing to an undisclosed assessment by Australia’s domestic security agency, ASIO, concerning the father, Dr Leghaei.
Despite 16 years lawful residence in Australia, without ever being charged or warned for any reason, the secret security assessment against Dr Leghaei was upheld on appeal. Dr Leghaei’s wife and children all had permanent residency or citizenship, but his wife and 14yo daughter chose to accompany him when he was obliged to leave Australia in 2010.
The Committee found that Australia did not provide Dr Leghaei with “adequate and objective justification” for his expulsion and denied him “due process of law”. “Disrupting long-settled family life” by expelling the father of a minor child and forcing the family to choose whether to accompany him constitutes arbitrary interference with the family, in violation of articles 17 and 23(1).
Read more on Leghaei et al. v Australia.
The 9 authors of this communication – 6 Tamils, including one child, who fled the conflict in Sri Lanka in 2009 or shortly thereafter, plus 2 Burmese and a Kuwaiti man – arrived in Australia and were detained. All were accepted by Australia as refugees. However, they were not released from detention because ASIO determined they were an undisclosed security risk. The HRC found the authors suffered inhuman and degrading treatment, arbitrary detention and denial of habeas corpus, recommending they all be released, rehabilitated and compensated. Further, Australia ‘should review its migration legislation to ensure its conformity with the requirements of articles 7 and 9 of the Covenant’. All 9 authors have reportedly been released; none is known to have been compensated nor provided with rehabilitation services.
Read more on MMM et al v Australia.
Indonesians Hendrick Winata and So Lan Li arrived in Australia in the 1980s and overstayed their visas, undetected. They had a son, who obtained Australian citizenship on his 10th birthday. The next day, his parents applied for refugee status. Their application was rejected and Immigration ordered their deportation. The HRC found that to deport Mr Winata and Ms Li would arbitrarily interfere with their family and breach Australia’s obligation to protect families and children. Australia rejected the Committee’s Views, but did not deport Mr Winata and Ms Li, who eventually obtained permanent residency in Australia.
Read more on Winata & Li v Australia.