by Heath Aston in SMH – 14 Nov 2016
Every Australian prime minister from John Howard onwards should be investigated for crimes against humanity in relation to the indefinite detention of asylum seekers, according to a group of international lawyers.
The group of seven British, American and Australian lawyers, which includes high-profile barrister and refugee advocate Julian Burnside, has petitioned the International Criminal Court to investigate the treatment of asylum seekers by successive governments, beginning with John Howard’s.
A 52-page communique names Mr Howard, Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, claiming they have knowingly breached the Rome Statute of the court.
“Those breaches involve the indefinite detention of asylum seekers who have committed no offence and regardless of their age or health or sex,” the communique states. “The breaches also include forcible removal of asylum seekers to Pacific Island countries where they are detained and seriously mistreated, for the stated purpose of ‘stopping the boats’: that is, deterring people from seeking asylum in Australia.”
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