La Trobe Law School academics and students have recently made a submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee alleging violations of Australia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The complaint to the UN was made on behalf of Mr M.
Mr M. is an Indigenous man who is currently incarcerated at the Alice Springs Correctional Centre in the Northern Territory. He has significant cognitive impairments. He is subject to a Custodial Supervision Order pursuant to the Northern Territory Criminal Code and has been placed in custody at the prison because no appropriate alternatives exist in the Northern Territory. In the Submission it is argued, among other things, that the conditions of his detention are violations of specific rights guaranteed by the ICCPR. The submission includes arguments relating to the arbitrariness of his detention, the inappropriateness of the use of restraints on him, as well as arguments regarding the protection of minority rights such as the rights to Country, Community and Culture.
The aim of the submission is to encourage the Australian government to ensure that its obligations under human rights instruments like the ICCPR are acknowledged and enacted – especially as regards the needs of the more vulnerable members of our society.
Upon receipt of the submission, the UNHRC will refer it to the Australian government to respond.
The submission was prepared by Dr Emma Henderson, with the assistance of two of La Trobe Law School’s recent graduates, Stephanie Falconer and Nicole Shackleton, and Professor Patrick Keyzer. The complaint was authorised by Mr Patrick McGee of the Aboriginal Disability Justice Campaign who is the legal guardian of Mr M.
In light of Four Corners’ recent footage of indigenous teenagers being mistreated in Don Dale Detention Centre, this submission has received extensive media coverage, being published through the ABC website as well as ABC’s AM.