The case of an African asylum seeker detained on Nauru and known as S99 is currently before the federal court, in an effort to have her brought to Australia for termination of pregnancy as a result of sexual assault.
S99 suffers from epilepsy. Whilst lying unconscious after a seizure, she was raped.
S99 is currently in Port Moresby where one David Nockels, senior bureaucrat in the Department of Immigration and Border Protection, insisted she be sent for an abortion.
Abortion is illegal in PNG, and Nockels has not sought legal advice as to the consequences for S99 of undergoing termination in that country.
Further, Nockels has been advised by no less than five medical experts, including a neurologist and a psychiatrist, that S99’s condition is such that the procedure is far from straightforward, and must be carried out in a hospital and by medical staff with far more expertise in their various fields than is available in Port Moresby.
David Nockels has refused S99 permission to travel to Australia. He admitted to the court that he would consider flying an entire medical team, including an anaesthetist and all necessary equipment to Port Moresby before he would agree to S99 being transferred to this country.
“That is why we have Manus and Nauru,” David Nockels told the court.
The Guardian also reports Nockels admitted:
that a phone call to an obstetrician at the Pacific International hospital, Dr Mathias Sapuri, who had no expertise in neurology, psychiatry or PNG law, had reassured him that the abortion could be carried out in Port Moresby.
Further: In his evidence, Sapuri admitted he had a financial interest in the Pacific International hospital as a shareholder, and that his private obstetric practice merged with the hospital. He did not say what proportion of the shares he held, other than it was “small”.
Ron Merkel QC, representing S99, asked Nockels why he valued the opinion of one doctor with an interest in attracting patients to the hospital over the advice of multiple medical experts provided by IHMS and lawyers representing S99.
In response, Nockels reiterated his confidence in Dr Sapuri’s advice.
It has also been revealed that the refugee known as Omid, who died yesterday after self-immolating on Nauru, was not evacuated from the island for 24 hours after suffering serious burns. The explanation for this delay is that DIBP could not find a pilot.
Omid was denied pain relief for several hours, and there was no appropriate treatment available at the hospital, causing risk of serious infection.
Two days ago I wrote about the unnecessary death of refugee Hamid Khazael on Manus Island from a simple scratch on his leg that led to septicaemia. This is a story of yet another overreach by a DIBP official who took it upon him or herself to ignore medical advice and deny Hamid treatment that could have saved his life.
DIBP is a government department rapidly coming to resemble a bureaucracy out of Kafka. Its secretive, punitive and murderous culture has no place in a liberal democracy.
DIBP is apparently staffed by individuals willing to follow to the letter the obscene orders of their ministers. Its default position is that asylum seekers and refugees who’ve arrived here by boat are not entitled to be acknowledged and treated as fully human. Even when granted refugee status confirming the horrors from which they’ve fled, DIBP officials, following orders, still treat those in off-shore detention as dispensable, and unworthy of proper attention and treatment.
The pathology and psychopathy starts at the top in any organisation. But after Nuremberg, that no longer excuses those who carry out the obscene commands of their superiors. DIBP is full of bureaucrats such as David Nockels: if it were not, the system would collapse.
In an ideal world DIBP staff would stage a full-scale revolt against their criminal masters, however I don’t see that happening anytime soon.
In what world does a bureaucrat have absolute control over the medical treatment, and indeed, the survival of a detained person?
Oh, yes, we know all too well the precedent for that world.
This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.