Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Targeting the camp-guards

Speaking of Australia and torture: the company which runs Australia's refugee concentration camps in PNG and Nauru has been formally warned that its directors and employees could face prosecution for crimes against humanity:

The company that has taken over the management of Australia’s offshore immigration detention regime has been warned by international law experts that its employees could be liable for crimes against humanity.

Spanish infrastructure corporation Ferrovial, which is owned by one of the world’s richest families and the major stakeholder in Heathrow airport, has been warned by professors at Stanford Law School that its directors and employees risk prosecution under international law for supplying services to Australia’s camps on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.

“Based on our examination of the facts, it is possible that individual officers at Ferrovial might be exposed to criminal liability for crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute,” said Diala Shamas, a clinical supervising attorney at the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford Law School.

This seems perfectly justifiable. The decision to torture refugees is a political one, made by the Australian government (so every Minister and official who has been party to or helped implement that decision is also on the hook). But Ferrovial and its employees are the ones actually performing that torture on the ground, ensuring that they are detained indefinitely in cruel and degrading conditions (and occasionally waterboarding them). And that's something the company can and should be held responsible for. And while they can claim to be "only following orders" from the Australian government, I'm not sure that doing Nazi impersonations is really a good defence or PR strategy.

Meanwhile I'm wondering when we'll see former Australian immigration Ministers indicted and dragged to The Hague for this. Because they deserve to be, and they need to be, to make sure it never happens again.