Thirteen Victorian and Australian legal, human rights and civil society organisations have today called for a transparent review of both the new Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) and the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2011 (Vic) in order for Victoria to remedy its breaches of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’).
In a four-page joint letter, addressed to Premier Napthine, the Attorney General, Leader of the Opposition and shadow ministers, the organisations urge a substantive response by the State of Victoria to the recent findings of the United Nations Human Rights Committee on the long-running case of Victorian woman, Corinna Horvath.
Ms Corinna Horvath was brutally assaulted, along with her friends and partner, by a group of police during an unlawful raid on her home in March 1996. The police officers’ gross acts of violence left her with a fractured nose and tooth and rendered her unconscious, after which she was unlawfully arrested and detained. Her injuries required surgery and five days in hospital.
In Horvath v Australia (2014), the Committee found that the State party is under an obligation to:
1) compensate Ms Horvath adequately;
2) to amend the law to guarantee that victims of police human rights abuses are adequately compensated; and
3) to ensure that police perpetrators of human rights violations are adequately disciplined through an independent, effective and impartial complaints body.
According to the joint letter, “Victoria’s inadequate response to complaints of misconduct by police has been a recurring issue in Victoria for decades and is damaging to not only community trust in police, but also public confidence in societal institutions.”
Signitories to the letter include: The Law Institute of Victoria, the Victorian Council of Social Services (VCOSS), Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, The Justice and International Mission of the Uniting Church, Liberty Victoria, the Human Rights Law Centre, and the Federation of Community Legal Centres.
Australian Government has an obligation to respond to the UN Human Rights Committee by 23 September 2014.
A copy of the Joint Letter can be found here UNHRC_Joint letter_re Horvath (PDF)
For background see Corrina Horvath.