Back to All News

Attorney General fails to address human rights issues over detention of four Aboriginal men with cognitive impairment

Media Release
Rachel Siewert 2 Dec 2014

The Australian Greens said today that the Attorney General has totally failed to address serious findings made by the Australian Human Rights Commission against the Commonwealth in regards to the detention of four Aboriginal men with cognitive impairment.

The Commission's report into the complaints, along with the Attorney General's inadequate response was tabled in the Senate today.

"The Australian Human Rights Commission has found that the Commonwealth has failed to work with the Northern Territory Government to provide suitable accommodation and support services for the four complainants," Senator Rachel Siewert, Australian Greens spokesperson on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues said today.

"All four complainants were detained in the maximum security Alice Springs Correctional Centre, two of them remain there and two were only moved to a secure care facility after spending six and four and a half years there respectively.

"By failing to act, the AHRC has stated that the Government has not met their obligation under international law to act, and that this is contrary to or inconsistent with the complainants' rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"These are serious findings that highlight the fact that people with intellectual disability and cognitive impairment, especially Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, are being unfairly detained in prisons across the country. This has to end, the Commonwealth has a responsibility to lead the States and Territories on this issue and ensure that people with an intellectual disability or cognitive impairment are not held indefinitely in custody.

"In response to this report, the Attorney General has done nothing other than attack the Australian Human Rights Commission and refuse to even discuss their recommendations. This is a disgraceful display from a senior Government Minister and shows total disregard for those people being denied justice in our prisons.

"The Commission have called on the Government to ensure the two complainants who remain in maximum security prison are placed in suitable accommodation, and have made a number of wider, systemic recommendations that the Commonwealth work with the NT Government to ensure people with cognitive impairment are supported.

"The Government has a clear obligation to protect the human rights of all Australians, but this obligation is being ignored. I call on the Government to accept and enact the AHRC's recommendations as a matter of urgency," Senator Siewert concluded.

The AHRC report is available here.

Back to All News