Culture

Andrew Wilkie Has Written To The ICC Requesting That Tony Abbott Be Charged With Crimes Against Humanity

Might make for some awkward run-ins at Parliament House.

Goodness gracious me, this is exciting. Earlier this morning, independent MP for the Tasmanian seat of Denison Andrew Wilkie released a public letter to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, requesting that Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and the Australian cabinet be charged with crimes against humanity over the Australian government’s treatment of asylum seekers.

In the letter, addressed to the ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor, Wilkie asks “that you initiate a proprio motu investigation in accordance with Article 15(1) of the Rome Statute”, the treaty establishing the ICC, claiming there is “evidence that members of the Australian Government are committing” crimes against people seeking asylum from persecution, including “imprisonment and other severe deprivation of individual liberty”, “deportation and other forcible transfer of population”, and “other intentional acts causing great suffering, or serious injury to body and mental and physical health”.

Wilkie writes that “members of the Australian Government are pursuing policies that are designed to deter persons arriving by boat from seeking protection in Australia”, name-dropping the government’s current Manus Island and Nauru resettlement policies. He also notes that “members of the Australian Government are putting large numbers of asylum seekers at risk by forcibly returning some of them to the countries from which they have fled”, and that the government is committing breaches of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. You can read the full thing here.

In a press release sent out to media earlier today, Wilkie said “the actions of the Prime Minister and members of his Government against asylum seekers are criminal”, and that “the ICC clearly has jurisdiction in relation to the Abbott Government’s systematic mistreatment of asylum seekers”.

According to Article 15(1), which Wilkie cites as the basis under which the ICC can prosecute the government, “the Prosecutor shall analyse the seriousness of the information received” and “shall submit to the Pre-Trial Chamber a request for authorization of an investigation” if they determine that “there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an
investigation”. If the Pre-Trial Chamber, in turn, decides the Prosecutor has a case and it falls within the Court’s jurisdiction, it will authorise a full investigation by the ICC itself.

Wilkie, who won election in 2010 as an independent, is a former army officer. He was member of the Young Liberals in his youth, before becoming a vocal opponent of the 2003 Iraq War and running as the Greens candidate against John Howard in the seat of Bennelong in 2004. A few months ago he called for a Royal Commission into the 2003 Iraq War, and spoke out strongly against Australia’s new involvement.

Feature image via Andrew Wilkie/YouTube.