Alleged abuse against #refugees outside ICC jurisdiction: @jansant reports

Asylum seekers on the roof of Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, Sydney: Adam.J.W.C. (Wikimedia)

Asylum seekers on the roof of Villawood Immigration Detention Centre, Sydney: Adam.J.W.C. (Wikimedia)

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has declined “further analysis” of evidence included in a submission authored by Tracie Aylmer, alleging atrocities against refugees committed by members of the Australian government.

The ICC said in a letter (below) dated Thursday, September 18: “the allegations appear to fall outside the jurisdiction of the Court”.

The letter continued: “many serious allegations will be beyond the reach of this institution to address. I note in this regard that the ICC is designed to complement, not replace national jurisdictions. Thus, if you wish to pursue this matter further, you may consider raising it with appropriate national or international authorities”.

The ICC did not clear those named in the submission of the allegations made against them. They indicated, “the decision not to proceed may be reconsidered if new facts or evidence provide a reasonable basis to believe that a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court has been committed”.

No Fibs first published news of the submission on August 31, 2014. The submission was officially acknowledged as received by the ICC on May 19, 2014.

Julian Burnside AO QC (@JulianBurnside) recently wrote an opinion piece asserting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration and Border Protection Minister Scott Morrison’s actions “appear to constitute a crime against humanity contrary to section 268.12 of the Criminal Code (Commonwealth)”.

Only Attorney-General Senator George Brandis can bring a prosecution under section 268.12, leaving asylum seekers in a catch 22 situation.

No Fibs contacted the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for comment, we are waiting for a reply.

No Fibs emailed the following questions to the ICC:-

  • Was there consideration given in your decision that refugees who may be victims of crimes against humanity, perpetrated by the Australian federal government, are effectively left without remedy in domestic law?
  • What other international authorities can provide remedy and justice to the victims of crimes alleged in the submission?

The ICC declined to comment.

On Friday, the The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a statement expressing deep concern at the precedent set by the agreement signed between Australia and Cambodia to relocate refugees to Cambodia from Nauru.

In the statement the UNHCR said: “UNHCR has consistently advocated for asylum-seekers to have their claims assessed and to benefit from protection in the territory of the State where they arrive, or which has jurisdiction over them.”

The ABC reported riot police were called to the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh as Cambodians angered by the agreement protested outside.

Last week The Sydney Morning Herald reported allegations made by a worker on Manus Island. The worker alleges asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei was kept on the island for a week waiting for approval to be medically transferred to Port Moresby, despite showing signs of septicemia that later killed him.

The account supports witness statements made by asylum seekers, who wrote to the International Health and Medical Service complaining about Mr Kehazaei’s treatment.

Do you know more? Contact No Fibs.

View full coverage of developments in this story.



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  1. The Champagne splashed and toasts were drunk by the negotiators to seal the filthy deal.
    We are to see even more cruelty perpetrated by this foul Abbott government, in our name.
    Genuine refugees who thought they were going to seek solace in a civilised country will now be shipped, as prisoners, to the country that gave us the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields!
    How much of the “Forty pieces of Silver” given as a bribe by the Abbott bunch of Mongrels, (again, in our name) will be used to care for those refugees, or even be used for the Cambodian people’s benefit. The blood money is probably even now being split up by the corrupt elite of Cambodia. How many new off-shore bank accounts have they opened in preparation for the feeding-frenzy at the trough. How much will flow back to the LNP coffers through some under-the-table agreement. Everywhere you look, this arrangement stinks of corruption.
    I pray that a Royal Commission can act soon enough to rescue the victims of Morrison’s cruel abuse from the atrocities they are being subjected to by Team Abbott and their Cambodian counterparts.

  2. Rosemary Smith says

    I agree with your comment Ian. It appears that Australia has lost commonsense and its humanity. Now that a great number of the population is being driven by fear, I can only feel despair for the plight of these refugees.

  3. Disappointing outcome- I would have thought they would have taken it up- eg legal expert Guy Goodwin-Gill said ” Yes, it may seem odd, but on the basis of what is known as ‘universal jurisdiction’, any State may prosecute international crimes, even if they did not take place within its territory and were not committed by one of its citizens. This principle covers crimes like piracy, war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide and so forth, but also torture; and in the case of torture, provision is made for prosecution in Articles 4 and 5 of the 1984 UN Convention against Torture, which refers expressly to the possibility of prosecution, ‘ where the alleged offender is present in any territory under its jurisdiction and it does not extradite him…’
    In practice, of course, there can be many difficulties in running a prosecution with regard to an offence committed somewhere else, such as getting the necessary evidence; but that can be overcome, and there are instances of successful prosecution.
    The case of Habib, which I mentioned in my speech, was somewhat different. It certainly involved allegations of torture, but the alleged offenders here were Australian citizens (officials), who were subject to the jurisdiction of an Australian court.
    I hope the above helps. It does mean that those who engage in torture may well find themselves in difficulty when they travel abroad…” Australia’s flouting of international law does nobody any good… well we just have to keep plugging away- btw is there a way I can “follow” this blog as I lose the url and it then falls out of memory…