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Senior DIBP official overrules medical experts yet again

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.


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  1. Vikingduk

    If these people were animals, the RSPCA would be prosecuting these cruel foockers, the media would be all over this story. This vile treatment of asylum seekers is carried out in our names as Australian citizens by our government and bureaucrats. A morally bankrupt bunch of absolute shits all of whom seem to be avowed Christians. What have we become? To say I am ashamed and disgusted is putting it mildly.

  2. you can't be serious

    Shocking scary stuff. If there is a hell …..
    Agreed there is a most terrible precedent for that kind of behaviour and it was perpetrated with devastating outcomes for the world and millions of innocent victims.
    Time for rigorous psychometric testing of public service wannabes to exclude zealous sociopaths. Not sure how to get rid of the ones already in the PS.

  3. paul walter

    Do you shudder at the recounting of events relating to the the agonising death of another stressed asylum seeker on Nauru, just days after the 4 Corners doco on a previous horrific death there?

    No doubt, Dutton is the authentic heir to the “Good Samaritan” line of Christianity, after cherryng the already messy cake involving 850 already sorry souls cooped up at Manus with that bizarre interview with Karl Stefanovic.

  4. kerri

    Regarding Omid, I have a few questions?
    1/ How did a “detainee” get hold of enough petrol to douse himself?
    2/ How did no-one at the interview with Omid notice the petrol he had already doused himself in?
    3/ Did no-one consider for a millisecond that a refugee with the ubiquitous mental illness our authorities have inflicted on him, smelling strongly of petrol may be undergoing suicidal ideation??
    These people are being abused in our name and our PM says “let’s not get misty eyed”?
    Death by neglect is still murder if you are the gaolkeeper of another human being.

  5. Sir ScotchMistery

    @ Kerri – they are not being abused in MY name. They are being abused on our behalf by a couple of non-taxpaying multinationals, at the behest of the LNP and the Alternative Liberal Party.

    Time for a royal commission into who’s f*cking who and who’s paying the rent, but that won’t happen with Shorty or the clown from Bondi, masquerading as a prime mincer. Here we go again.

    Also, based on questions needing to be asked among that group (LNP, ALP, Transfield/Broad Spectrum and Serco), is who owns shares in what?

  6. James O'Neill

    Reading this article made me feel physically ill. What sort of country have we become that permits these crimes to be committed in our name.

  7. brickbob

    Dutton is the Adolf Eichman of Australia,but unfortunately wont suffer the samr fate.””

  8. babyjewels10

    Apart from anything else – S99??? Are we in Nazi Germany?

  9. Miriam English

    babyjewels10, yes. That was my first thought too. S99… Do they tattoo the numbers on their forearms? It makes it much easier to treat people as subhuman if you first dehumanise them by giving them numbers instead of names.

    This whole thing makes me want to vomit. All the people associated with this need to face severe prison terms, beginning with the government ministers enabling it, and going on down.

    Screw the inquiry into the unions — we need an inquiry into this ongoing horror. And prison sentences — not merely smacks on the hand — as a result. It is the only way to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen again. Only if government ministers face prison will they think very carefully about such things in the future (some are so mentally and morally challenged they won’t even then). But this needs to be ended. This travesty has gone on long enough.

  10. keerti

    It is an interesting self comment on australia….A few days ago there was the annual handwringing about the ANZACs and how they fought fir our freedom. Freedom is not freedom unless it is enjoyed by all. While we as acountry lock up vulnerable people, we are not free!

  11. Greg Evers

    babyjewels10 check the net an look at what the Nazi party did in the beginning of their rise to power and look at what LNP have done in the last few years and then ask that same question

  12. King1394

    If someone makes decisions that cause injury and death as David Nockels is doing, he is a murderer and Minister Dutton and all those who are encouraging this are accessories to murder. Criminal law should be applied forthwith.

  13. Peter F

    I keep thinking they can’t get any worse . . . . . how naive

  14. lawrencewinder

    Yep, let’s not get misty-eyed… nothin’ to see here…
    The country in ethically moribund … the cancerous IPA agenda has done its stuff. perhaps excision will be of benefit. And if Labor do get back these mongrels should be charged after they are sacked.

  15. Mick Sylwestruk

    Who was the animal who raped her? Was it staff or another asylum seeker?

  16. Loz

    Turnbull tells us we mustn’t get “misty-eyed” about refugees. What does he want us to do when we know people are incarcerated in a hell hole. What an obscene statement to make from a man who is the PM of this country. Whoever thought this country would let people suffer physical and mental torment and do nothing about it.

    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/comment/the-age-letters/asylum-seekers-huge-savings-to-be-made-by-closing-down-camps-20160429-goi4gv.html#ixzz47HeRa4n2
    Follow us: @theage on Twitter | theageAustralia on Facebook

  17. David Somerville

    The Australians who voted for the LNP should hang their heads in shame at the treatment of these asylum seeeking detainees. How can you sleep at night in your cozy beds
    knowing the Dutton and his dispicable LNP cohorts seem to derive some sort of perverse sense of righteousness in depriving these people of a decent life, not luxurious, just decent.

    Australia should hang it’s head in shame at the dispicable antics of the LNP and the DIBP. God knows how those
    bureaucrats can sleep at night.

  18. jim

    So more then @$2 Billion and ongoing lies the LNP have been able to claim they stopped the boats well guess what They didn’t stop the boats Link… http://johnmenadue.com/blog/?p=4280

    Quote;…..Not only did Tony Abbott not stop the boats, but he, together with the Greens was responsible for the dramatic increase in boat arrival numbers after the rejection of the Malaysian arrangement in August 2011. At that time, irregular maritime arrivals were running at less than 300 per month. That increased to over 4,000 in July 2013 when the Rudd Government acted.

    The data just does not support the never-ending claims by Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison that they stopped the boats. The under-resourced and uncritical media accepts the Coalition’s line. But IMO the data says the LNP did.t stop the ALP from stopping the boats which could be seen as Treason. as one Liberal member said in the USA that the more boats that come to Australia the better just whos side was this adult on eh.it wasn’t Australias thats for sure.

  19. Margaret McMillan

    The horror of what happened to Omid should be splashed all over the media.

    “Man left to suffer fatal burns for 24 hours before being evacuated”

    “Man screams in agony for hours before receiving pain relief”

    “Another innocent asylum seeker dies due to criminal neglect”

    There should be images of his wife, his baby appearing everywhere – anything that makes the people in Australia who don’t care (or don’t know) discover what is truly being done in their name.

    I know the Murdoch media will not report this. But they should, and in the most graphic terms possible.

  20. Miriam English

    jim, the article you linked to merely congratulates the Labor government on implementing cruel and illegal strategies before the Abbott government did. This is not a good way to argue the case.

  21. @RosemaryJ36

    Do not forget that Labor is complicit in offshore detention!!

  22. Kyran

    Death’s in custody seem to be acceptable. In 1987 (nearly 30 years ago), we had the RCIADIC. It produced 330 recommendations, only a few of which have been acted on. That’s all good, apparently. They died, therefore no harm, no foul. Now we have a system that says we will deprive, deprave and denigrate them, until they die.
    Carl Williams died in custody. A media event that went ballistic.
    My bad.
    He was white (albeit with a ‘few faults’).
    Vale Omid, Hamid, Reza.
    30 years ago this crap could have been sorted. Now we just ‘redefine parameters’.
    Seems really odd that we have a child abuse RC, a DV RC (in Victoria), whilst we are hell bent on institutionalising the most ignoble of their findings.
    Thank you, Ms Wilson. Take care (S99, as best you can).

  23. PressOf1

    Thank you for naming at least one person implicated in this horror. Here’s hoping others in positions to know will name bureaucrats etc contributing to this Great Australian Shame.

  24. metadatalata

    At present, asylum seekers on Nauru and Manus Islands are actually political prisoners. Who would have thought that as a nation, we would ever stoop so low on human rights to put innocent people in the position where they are raped, tortured and left to die at the whim of our parliamentarians?
    The politicians that are complicit in this abuse of human rights should be held to account for causing the indirect death of some and physical and mental abuse of the rest of the asylum seekers. It is just insane that this situation is going on right now and our courts of justice are allowing it to continue. What is wrong with them?

  25. Kyran

    Just when you think the callous bastardry can’t possibly get worse, we exceed ourselves.
    The most recent article on ABC reports;
    “An Iranian refugee who died after setting himself on fire at the Nauru detention centre was without doctor’s care for two hours at the medical facility and lay in agony for a further eight hours before morphine was administered, his wife says.
    She says it then took 24 hours for a medical airlift team to arrive in Nauru, a six-hour flight from the mainland.”
    “The medical company that operates the clinic on Nauru would not say when the doctors made the decision to seek a medivac.
    CareFlight, which operates the air ambulance, said it was unable to provide information regarding the evacuation.”


    All of the reference’s to Mr Masoumali that I have read refer to him (and his wife) as refugee’s, not asylum seekers. My assumption is that they had been through the evaluation process and been adjudged as refugee’s.
    From the same article;
    “Mr Masoumali’s body will be flown back to Iran.”
    From the same article;
    “It is understood Ms Masoumali is in an immigration facility in Brisbane, about to be sent back to Nauru.”

    The most recent radio announcement says Ms Masoumali, in a facility in Brisbane, without a phone or ‘outside’ contact, has ‘elected’ to return with her husband’s body to Iran. He was 23, so I guess she is of a similar age. Kids.
    Kids, whose lives, in such a short time frame, has required they escape persecution, only to be returned to their persecutors. One, in a coffin.
    Yep, just when you think it can’t get worse, we now support refoulement.
    Refoulement means the expulsion of persons who have the right to be recognised as refugees.
    The Hague can’t come quick enough for these politicians. In the mean time, how many more kids will die, so we punish the ‘people smugglers’? Oh, look over there. A budget. Take care, a luxury we no longer afford those in our care.

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