Skip to main content

Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, will hold a press conference today to discuss the International Criminal Court’s response, received yesterday, to his referral that the Australian Government’s treatment of asylum seekers is a crime against humanity.

WHEN: 12:15pm TODAY 14 February 2020
WHERE: Parliament Lawns HOBART

The ICC in The Hague makes it clear that Australia is in breach of Article 7(1)(e) of the Rome Statute because the conditions on Nauru and Manus Island do, and have always, constituted cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. The findings of the ICC are consistent with many other reports including those by the Australian Human Rights Commission, the United Nations and Amnesty International.

In their letter, the ICC confirmed that “in terms of the conditions of detention and treatment, although the situation varied over time, the Office considers that some of the conduct at the processing centres on Nauru and on Manus Island appears to constitute the underlying act of imprisonment or other severe deprivations of physical liberty under article 7(1)(e) of the Statute.”

“The ICC’s response is a remarkable condemnation of the cruelty of the Australian Government’s asylum seeker policies,” Mr Wilkie said. “We’ve long known that the Government’s response to asylum seekers has been barbaric, inhumane and expensive, but now there can be no doubt that it also puts Australia in breach of the Rome Statute and guilty of crimes against humanity.

“Although the ICC advised me that a number of matters I referred were beyond the Court’s jurisdiction, recent developments in the Government’s asylum seeker policies have opened up new avenues for further investigation and I am currently seeking legal advice as to the next step forward.

“I first complained to the ICC in October 2014 and have been sending the Prosecutor evidence ever since, including allegations of cash payments being made to members of Indonesian people smuggling rings by Australian intelligence officials; the indefinite detention of children; forced family separation; the forced release of asylum seekers into the foreign sovereign nation of the Republic of Nauru; the treatment of unaccompanied refugee minors; the contents of the so-called Nauru files comprising of reports of assaults, sexual abuse, self-harm attempts, child abuse and ongoing trauma endured by asylum seekers held by the Australian Government in Nauru; the legislated life time ban of refugees who arrived by boat from Australia; and other discriminatory migration laws.”

Prominent human rights lawyer Greg Barns welcomed the response. “When Andrew Wilkie wrote to the ICC five years ago he did so to make it aware of the cruelty of the offshore detention regime,” Mr Barns said. “It is clear that the Rome Statute has been breached by Australia. It is extraordinary and shameful that a nation which purports to believe in the rule of law should be found to be in breach of the international law which outlaws cruelty and inhumanity.”

“This appears to be the first time that the ICC has taken Australia to task for Rome Statute breaches,” Mr Wilkie said.

Read a copy of ICC’s response: Andrew Wilkie, Response from International Criminal Court, Australian Government treatment of asylum seekers