Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Covering up their crimes

Australia's Pacific gulags are a crime against humanity, home to neglect, beatings and rapes, torture, murder and systematic sexual abuse. We know all of these things because people who work there have broken ranks to tell us about them. Now the Australian government plans to make that illegal:

“The Australian Border Force Act, supported by the ALP and opposed only by the Greens, effectively turns the Department of Immigration into a secret security organisation with police powers,” Barrister and spokesperson for the Australian Lawyers Alliance, Greg Barns said.


“Under the Act, it is a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment of up to two years, for any person working directly or indirectly for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to reveal to the media or any other person or organisation (the only exceptions being the Immigration Department and other Commonwealth agencies, police, coroners) anything that happens in detention centres like Nauru and Manus Island.”

Barns said that Section 24 of the Act requires that any departmental workers or contractors to the department subscribe to an oath.

“There is no detail about the contents of the oath, and it is possible that the oath will prevent individuals such as doctors and nurses, as well as organisations such as the Salvation Army, Red Cross, United Nations and Amnesty International, from fulfilling their ethical and professional obligations to report physical and mental harm,” he said.

Which means they will no longer be able to tell the United Nations special rapporteur on torture about the horrs they have witnessed, which means he will no longer be able to find that the gulags are torture centres. Which is obviously convenient for the Australian government - but not so convenient for those who want that government to behave lawfully and ethicly and not engage in torture.

This is not the action of a government which believes its actions are lawful and justifiable to the public. Instead it is the action of a government which seeks to cover up its crimes and prevent its members from facing justice for them.