Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Australia should be prosecuted for its torture camps

Yesterday Amnesty International released a damning report on Australia's Pacific refugee concentration camps. A key finding of the report was that the treatment in the camps amounted to torture:

Amnesty International found that the system to which refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru are subjected amount to torture.

The combination of refugees’ severe mental anguish, the intentionally harmful nature of the system, and the fact that the goal of offshore processing is intended to intimidate or coerce others to achieve a specific outcome, means that Australia’s offshore “processing” regime fits the definition of torture under international law.

Now, lawyers are apparently investigating laying charge with the International Criminal Court over this state policy of torture:
Lawyers are investigating taking Australia to the International Criminal Court over its offshore detention centres, Amnesty International says.


"The system is illegal and we show in our report in great detail how Australia is violating its multiple international obligations, including an obligation not to torture," she said.

"There are lawyers who are communicating with the International Criminal Court - it's not Amnesty International yet, but we are in touch with them as well, who believe there is enough evidence for the ... court to investigate Australia's offshore processing."

Good. Torture is illegal under international (and Australian) law, and those responsible for it - the architects of the policy and those who implemented it, from government Ministers down to the lowest camp guard - need to be held to account for it.

New Zealand should be a part of this. As I've frequently pointed out, we have universal jurisdiction for torture. And we should use it whenever someone involved in torture sets foot in our country. When our nearest neighbour is running torture camps in our backyard, we need to stand up for what is right. And if that means arresting the Australian Prime Minister on their next state visit, so be it.