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No word from our Freedom Commissioner about offshore detention

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.

On January 19 he had written an article about Charlie Hebdo and Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act and last October he wrote that it was time for the transgender talk.

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.

40 comments

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  1. silkworm

    Little Timmy Wilson may have been set to gain from the removal of Gillian Triggs from her post.

  2. mars08

    No word from almost anyone with power or influence about offshore detention.

    Tim’s voice isn’t the only one absent on this subject…

  3. Kaye Lee

    Very true mars08. The Greens (not sure about independents) are the only ones with any credibility.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Australian bid for UN Human Rights Council under scrutiny over asylum seeker policy

    The Human Rights Law Centre delivered a statement to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva overnight, raising concerns about the Federal Government’s policies on asylum seekers and its attitude to the UN.

    The lawyers are urging the council to consider Australia’s current performance on human rights issues as the nation bids for a council seat in 2018.

    They say the Government’s stance on human rights at home is incompatible with its pronouncements on the world stage.

    http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/2015/s4202114.htm

  5. Graham Parton

    I hope Tim is keeping his resume up to date – he surely won’t survive a change of Government.

  6. Kaye Lee

    He’s been appointed for five years 🙁

  7. mars08

    @Kaye Lee…. didn’t the independents cut a deal with Morrison over children in detention and then let him bend it to suit the government’s interpretation?

  8. Gilly

    Timmy has no time for comment, he is in LNP school learning how to fill in entitlement claims.

  9. allanr44

    He can be unappointed! The precedent has been set.

  10. silkworm

    allanr44, you may be correct. Graeme Innes the Disability Commissioner was unceremoniously sacked to make way for Timmy. Perhaps someone could check but I think Innes had not completed his contract.

  11. Terry2

    “Nauru would work to solve problems highlighted.”

    Well done Dutton – nothing to do with us, it’s all those dreadful Nauruans – welcome to the new Australia where things are never as they seem.

    You may remember,Kaye, how Gillian Triggs was forbidden access to Nauru and Manus as the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Commission does not extend beyond Australia. I also seem to recall that the UNHCR representative was denied a visa to Nauru allegedly due to Australian government interference.

    It seems that Abbott wants to keep these people locked up at least until the next election, probably to be used a political wedge – that is , should Labor do the decent and humane thing and announce that they would close down these gulags and resettle the occupants, they can be branded as being weak on border protection.

    I heard that Abbott was seeking a seat on the UN Human Rights Council : probably a toss up with Robert Mugabe.

  12. Florence nee Fedup

    I believe Innes was not reappointed as expected.

  13. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    I am disgusted that there is no large scale movement to pressure the government in relation to offshore processing and detention. I personally find it disgusting that many of these people are fleeing discrimination, torture and worse and we are treating them even more harshly than their former oppressors. Even when they are shown to be genuine refugees, they are offered no other viable option than to remain in a country where the native population does not want them and attacks them. The saddest part of all is that, given half a chance, they would, like thousands of migrants before them, have willing made a positive contribution to Australia’s economy and society.
    No more the Lucky Country – now the Cruel Country. Shame Australia!

  14. FreeThinker

    Tim Wilson still believes he works in the sheltered workshop for bright young conservative ideologues, that is the IPA.

    He is totally beyond his competence area in his present job, and very beholden to his patron, George Brandis.

  15. andrewthetwelve

    Silkworm. Graeme innes had finished his commission brandis just didn’t renew it and lumped disability with sue Ryan’s age commission portfolio, Tim cannot be sacked except by governor general for gross misconduct incapacity to fulfil role or bankruptcy,,, we stuck with him till 2018..

  16. O'Bleak

    Another disgusting joke at the expense of the Australian taxpayer. A $400,000+ sinecure for a political mate who has neither earned nor deserves such a position. Frankly, I don’t care that Wilson does not speak up on issues such as children in detention. His voice would be nothing but a useless paid up foghorn for his paymasters. Better the silence. And the sooner this barnacle is jettisoned overboard the better.

  17. stuffme

    LNP continues to prove it is unfit to govern.

  18. lawrencewinder

    Is there any value in the alleged salary of Timmy-Twat-Freedom-Man that can be justified as productivity for the nation? How much of his $390,000.00 P.A. wage has he earned for the benefit of this nation?
    Can we have an audit of his REAL productivity as compared to that of a Nurse on $65 -77,000.00 P.A.?

  19. pamelac65

    Yes Silence is deafening.

    It is to Mr Phillip Moss’s credit that he has honestly reported what the women have told him but this report, constrained as it is by time and lack of protection for women who divulge information, can not reveal the full abuse to which the women and children are subject.

    To understand the context of violence and sexual assault against women and children in Nauru camps, the situation for local women has to be acknowledged. Nauru men are at the very only beginning of understanding that beating and abusing their women and children must stop. The report below shows the struggle Nauru women face. It raises a serious question – what hope do reviled asylum seeking women and children have to be safe from violence and predation.

    The Immigration department and its contractors have placed women in a situation of harm. They know the situation. There are still no child protection laws in Nauru and as you will see from the Pacific Women’s report below, protection for women from violence is in it’s infancy.
    As examples

    Why would DIBP and its Contractors deliberately put male guards in charge of shower stalls without doors where women and children are naked and most vulnerable? Two guards sit at the curtain entrance to the showers watching and ticking off the names to ensure that no one showers more than once in 24 hours. Most often both guards are male- sometimes one male and one female.

    Why else would they allow the male guards to roam the camp at night doing head counts which allow them access to women’s tents and children?

    Women and children are wetting their beds in fear rather than go to the toilets in the dark and risk attack. Just today a mother told me that her 10 year old son wet his bed every night in Nauru.

    These camps are following the punitive “No Advantage” deterrent model as advocated by the Expert Panel. The aim to make life in the camps offshore so awful and terrifying that no one will come seeking protection. It has worked but at what cost? Is the abuse of children and women, the destruction of their spirit and dignity an acceptable cost?

    Please read this excerpt from the report by Pacific Women on the situation in Nauru- their lives are not safe either.

    http://www.pacificwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/Nauru-Country-Plan-Summary.pdf

    There are no statistics on family and gender violence in Nauru but there is a general consensus that domestic violence, including sexual and physical violence against children and against women is a growing problem on the island. Responding to domestic violence requires inter-sectoral and coordinated action to ensure prevention, early intervention, comprehensive support for survivors or rehabilitation of perpetrators. Efforts to address domestic violence in Nauru remain limited. Beyond the Police Domestic Violence Unit and the Nauru Safe House, there are no other services available for women and their children who are survivors of domestic violence. Health workers who interact with, and treat, survivors of domestic violence are poorly equipped to handle cases. The health sector does not have any policies or protocols in place to ensure the delivery of minimum standards of service and referral of patients to other services, eg the police or the safe house.

    Australia will fund an expatriate counsellor with expertise in domestic violence and working with children. The counsellor will be responsible for managing a caseload, as well as training health workers and developing protocols for identifying and working with survivors of violence.

    Mr Moss recommends that the Nauru Police be given extra training to ameliorate the situation. He also recommends that the Nauruan police walk through the camp regularly in a community policing role.

    Nauru is a small island where everyone is inter-related or knows each other. The local police and the guards in the camp are likely to be brothers or cousins or friends. No amount of training is going to change the dynamics of these relationships and ensure any impartiality as regards disputes between Asylum seekers and guards. Already we see in the community that People given Nauru refugee status are subject to attacks and abuse by locals with impunity. As for these same police parading through the camp, this is unlikely to make camp residents feel anything other than terror and fear. Furthermore it is an indictment on the lack of security in the camp that a police presence becomes necessary to keep women and children safe from contracted staff.

    The only solution is that most politically unpalatable- Close Offshore Camps.
    Provide an alternative to informal boat trade by providing a managed program of settlement in the Fraser model with the Vietnamese.
    It stopped the boats and brought people safely to Australia.
    Of course it means we have to grow up and shoulder our share of responsibility for the worlds dispossessed. If we were honest we could also thank our lucky stars that our geographic position means that our share is well within our means to manage and the Nation could be the richer for it – but that is a whole new debate.
    Right now we have to stop this awful abuse on Manus and Nauru.

  20. John Fraser

    <

    Today Murdoch's "The Australian" tried to put as much distance between itself and Abbott's "brave and decent woman" aka Pyne's "lion of the Union movement" aka Kathy Jackson, her lover Michael Lawler and sacked jock Mike Smith.

    Michael Lawler gained his position from Howard …..Fair Work Australia Commissioner ………. and it appears to be in remarkably similar circumstances as "soapy" Brandis and his nomination of little Timmy to the Human Rights Commission.

    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/industrial-relations/the-passions-and-the-pressure-of-my-life-with-kathy-jackson/story-fn59noo3-1227272221515

    Ever so slowly the Abbott Parties web of lies and deceit is unravelling.

    And each and everyone of them are going to be held responsible.

    They should have taken the chance to boot him when they could, that way they could have tried to disassociate themselves from him.

  21. Kaye Lee

    Can’t bring myself to pay for the Australian.

  22. John Fraser

    <

    Kaye Lee

    Coffee at Hunger Jack ….. a filthy Cowin take away.

    I don’t feed Murdoch.

  23. Robyn Oyeniyi

    Amazing isn’t it Kaye? I wrote a series of very long articles (probably bored everyone to tears) when he was appointed and I haven’t changed my thoughts on the appointment one iota. Makes me very grumpy!

  24. Bilal

    One more crime perpetrated by the Creatures from the Tea Party Swamp. I hope someone is keeping a careful tally for trial by their peers when this nation comes to its senses. The silence from Tiny Tim over the Triggs atrocity was ear splitting. Next in line for the chair perhaps, waiting with bated breath.

  25. Terry2

    John

    I saw that very unusual article in the Australian exposing (?) this menage-a-trois and I couldn’t work out why they would be doing this in our national broadsheet, much better in the Tele, then I saw the principal author : Sharri Markson .
    Explains it all.

  26. John Fraser

    <

    Terry2

    Going to take more than a stay in a private hospital to get out of this one.

    Looks like the old lawyers brigade doesn't like what has happened to Rofe and are using their clout behind the scenes to bring down the schemers.

  27. catch kandy

    Pamelac65, great post, thanks for the link to that report which I will be sharing widely.

  28. Kaye Lee

    An interesting statement from Pamela’s link…

    “The passage of the law will also create a need for the development of an implementation plan, additional services (such as a hotline for reporting violence) and policies to address domestic violence on the island (such as No Drop policy or mandatory reporting policies for health workers, schools and the community).”

    So they recommend mandatory reporting but then persecute those who report the sexual abuse of detainees, referring them to the AFP for possible prosecution.

    Gee that makes sense.

  29. stuffme

    Ah yes, Sophi Mirrorballs, so detested she was thrown out only to get a “jobs for the girls” spot. One can only hope that a few more get thrown out, Whiney Pyney is on the nose, never to be given a job again!

  30. stephentardrew

    A dysfunctional government sending the demonised and suffering to a a country rife with domestic violence. That is sure to work out well isn’t it.

    Keep washing the hands Abbott Morrison and Co the stench can never be removed until one day smell will come back to haunt as your God uncovers your mendacious duplicity.

    Judgment day is going to be so much fun.

  31. Florence nee Fedup

    Where is Morrison apology to those charity workers he had thrown off Nauru. Must do so, when one looks at Moss report. This government needs to keep in mind, that under our system, one must respect the assumption of innocence.

  32. John Fraser

    <

    Florence nee Fedup

    I'm all for them sueing the arse of the government.

    10 young Australians called liars and thrown off Naru.

    I will happily pay extra taxes just to see the Abbott Party in Court.

  33. stuffme

    John Fraser I think a nice little investigation into federal LNP would do a lot to rid this country of a smelly scum which is currently on Australia’s political water.

  34. helenmarg

    What an appalling disgusting apology for a government we have.It cannot go on .I feel sick whenever I see any of them on the television.Some of the things they do are criminal ,you could make a list a mile long.We cannot have this person as our prime minister.

  35. Peter Naughton

    Tim Wilson has only one human rights agenda, his own sexual preference.

  36. Kaye Lee

    If Joe Hockey can sue three newspapers for correctly saying he offers access to a group he initiated whose members donate thousands of dollars to the Liberal Party for the privilege, then I think the Save the Children workers have a hell of a case for wrongful dismissal as WELL as defamation. Gillian Triggs would also have a case as they most definitely impugned her reputation. And what about Julia Gillard who was accused of criminal behaviour by many of the Coalition and press? Hockey is setting a dangerous precedent here.

  37. John Fraser

    <

    Kaye Lee

    Liberals appear to be treating Fairfax Media as their own personal ATM.

    Pretty sure Costello got a payout.

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