A powerful condemnation of the failure of Victoria’s laws to provide adequate remedies to victims of police violence has been delivered by the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) in the recent and long awaited decision of Horvath v Australia (‘Horvath’).
The decision addresses critical policing issues that have plagued the Victorian community for years, including ongoing impunity for police violence, the need for victim centred accountability mechanisms to be reflected in our laws and the need for a properly resourced, impartial investigative body independent from Victoria Police to promptly and effectively investigate complaints of police misconduct.
In its decision, the UNHRC determined that Victoria’s laws do not meet Australia’s obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) to provide an effective remedy for human rights violations perpetrated by serving police officers. Australia (and by necessity, Victoria) is now required to change its laws and processes to better match community expectations for change and to meet Australia’s obligations under international law. If the Victorian and Australian Governments take their obligations under international law seriously, the UNHRC’s decision should bring an end to the practice of police investigating themselves in relation to allegations of serious misconduct and ensure greater policing standards by our force, for the benefit of all Victorians.
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This article was first published by the Australian Lawyers Alliance here>.