La Trobe Law School lodges Complaint on Behalf of Mr. S.

A team of academics from the La Trobe Law School has today lodged a Complaint to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) regarding allegations of violations of Australia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This Communication is similar to the complaint lodged by the Law School on behalf of Mr M. in May.  Mr M.’s treatment, in particular the use of restraint chairs and other physical restraint methods, has received extensive media coverage in light of Four Corner’s recent footage of mistreatment at the Don Dale Youth Detention Centre.

Dr Emma Henderson prepared the Communication with the assistance of two of La Trobe Law School’s recent graduates, Stephanie Falconer and Nicole Shackleton. Mr S.’s legal guardian, Ian McKinlay, who has over forty years experience in working with Indigenous Australians with mental and cognitive impairments, brought the original complaint to La Trobe Law School.

Mr S., an Indigenous man from the Alice Springs region in the Northern Territory, is incarcerated at the Darwin Correctional Centre in the Northern Territory.  He has significant mental impairments and is subject to a Custodial Supervision Order pursuant to the Northern Territory Criminal Code.   Although not convicted of a crime, he has been held in a maximum security prison since 1995 because the Northern Government argues that there are no appropriate alternatives.  The Complaint argues that the conditions of Mr S.’s detention violate specific rights guaranteed by the ICCPR, including the right not to be subject to torture, the right not to be subject to arbitrary detention, and the right to enjoy one’s own minority culture and language(s).

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 enforced – especially in relation to the needs of the most vulnerable members of our society.

Upon receipt of the submission, the UNHRC will refer it to the Australian Government to respond.

La Trobe