When George Brandis gifted the IPA’s Tim Wilson the high paying job of Human Rights Commissioner for Freedom despite his qualifications being “woefully inadequate”, he said it was to “restore balance”, believing that the HRC was too focused on discrimination.
Senator Brandis said Mr Wilson was ”one of Australia’s most prominent public advocates of the rights of the individual”.
But apparently that advocacy does not extend to the rights of asylum seekers illegally incarcerated by this government.
When the HRC produced their report on children in detention, the government’s response was to launch a very personal attack against Gillian Triggs.
Tim Wilson’s response was to say “I’m not going to get involved in fuelling the debate around this report.”
So what the hell is our freedom commissioner there for?
When reports of rapes and the sexual abuse of minors on Nauru surfaced last October, Scott Morrison’s response was to sack the people who made the allegations public and to report them to the AFP on the basis of “an intelligence report” by the security company running the detention centre that claimed it was “probable” that staff were coaching asylum seekers to manufacture situations where evidence could be obtained to pursue a political and ideological agenda in Australia.
“I have been provided with reports indicating that staff of service providers at the Nauru centre have been allegedly engaged in a broader campaign with external advocates to seek to cast doubt on the government’s border protection policies.”
Whilst saying “the allegations of sexual misconduct are abhorrent and I would be horrified to think that things of that nature have taken place,” Morrison seemed far more interested in pursuing the messenger and commissioned former integrity commissioner Philip Moss to conduct an independent review.
Released late on Friday after news of Malcolm Fraser’s death, the report found no proof of misconduct by the Save the Children staff, 9 of whom are now preparing to sue. I would suggest they have a far stronger case than Joe Hockey so if he wants to set a $1 million precedent, this could cost the government a lot of money.
The report, which the government has had for a month, did however detail many allegations against the security guards and the fact that 12 of them have been dismissed so far.
Mr Moss found compelling evidence that at least three women have been raped inside the detention centre and raised concern that sexual assault is likely to be under-reported due to a climate of fear and detainees worrying about their future refugee status.
“The review became aware of three allegations of rape (two female and one female minor), one which the Nauruan Police Force is investigating and two which the victims do not want to pursue by making a complaint. These allegations are concerning. They are also concerning because two of the victims do not feel able to bring forward these allegations to relevant authorities,” the report states.
Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said “Nauru would work to solve problems highlighted.”
The Australian Lawyers Alliance said the Commonwealth cannot outsource care of asylum seekers and could be liable for a “swathe of future compensation claims”.
“The nature of allegations raised in the Moss Review of sexual harassment, rape, trading sexual favours for marijuana and cigarettes and children being touched inappropriately, if proven, show that the Commonwealth has failed in its duty to take reasonable care of asylum seekers.”
So I went to our Commissioner for Freedom’s page on the HRC’s site to find what he had to say.
Tim Wilson’s latest article on March 11 begins well.
“Behind human rights is the still revolutionary idea that every human being is free and equal, that individuals own their own bodies and should be free to pursue their lives, opportunities and enterprise. Human rights provide the foundation for our liberal democracy, our market economy and our civil society.”
He goes on to say
“the biggest international frontier for human rights is ensuring the legal, social and cultural tolerance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.”
Another article published the same day criticised an advertisement by the Australian Marriage Forum (AMF) against marriage for same-sex couples.
I could not, however, find one thing about children in detention, or our continuing violation of human rights in offshore detention centres where we are legally liable for detainee’s safety and well-being.
Gillian Triggs, on the other hand, addressed the UN Human Rights Council yesterday.