22 October 2014
The Independent Member for Denison, Andrew Wilkie, and eminent human rights advocate and lawyer, Greg Barns, have formally requested the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) investigate crimes against asylum seekers by members of the Abbott Government.
“The actions of the Prime Minister and members of his Government against asylum seekers are criminal,” Mr Wilkie said. “Actions such as forcible deportation, detention without trial, detention of children and conditions of detention constitute breaches of Article 7 (Crimes Against Humanity) of the Rome Statute, the treaty that governs the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“The Abbott Government’s conduct in relation to asylum seekers also contravenes the Refugee Convention, Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“The Government is pandering to racism, xenophobia and selfishness instead of acting like leaders. This is why I’ve asked the Prosecutor to initiate an investigation into the Prime Minister and the Cabinet because, if they won’t listen to the swathe of community outrage, then hopefully they’ll listen to the International Criminal Court.”
“The ICC clearly has jurisdiction in relation to the Abbott Government’s systematic mistreatment of asylum seekers. Australia is a signatory to the Rome Statute,” Mr Barns said.
“Article 7 of the Statute defines ‘crimes against humanity’ to mean acts such as deportation, imprisonment or other severe deprivation of liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law, torture and other similar acts that are committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population.
“There is little doubt, and in fact it is well documented, that the Abbott Government’s mandatory detention of men, women and children in inhumane conditions, and the forcible deportation of individuals, are of a systemic nature and designed to deter.
“What Mr Wilkie and I are asking the ICC Prosecuting authority to do is to gather information, analyse evidence and make a report to the pre-trial chamber of the ICC asking it to authorise an investigation into the commission of offences by the Cabinet of the Abbott Government”