Victorian Government must take Horvath case seriously

1st Aug 2014

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has supported a call for the Victorian Government to take its international obligations seriously, following the Government’s inaction to rectify breaches of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The call to review the Victoria Police Act 2013 (Vic) and the Independent Broad-Based Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2011 (Vic) follows the State’s failure to compensate assault victim Ms Corinna Horvath after it was found liable for injuries caused by police during an unlawful raid on her home in March 1996.

The ALA is part of a wider group of Not-For-Profit organisations, led by the Flemington and Kensington Community Legal Centre, which is urging the State to acknowledge and act upon its obligations.

ALA Victorian President Emily Anderson said it was extremely concerning that the Victorian Government had not acted to carry out the findings of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. 

“It is extremely concerning that the United Nations has found that the State of Victoria breached its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (‘ICCPR’) in its handling of the Horvath case,” Ms Anderson said.

“However, what is more concerning is that since the UN ruling, the Government has taken no steps to rectify the breach and comply with the ICCPR.”

“It suggests that the Government does not take its international obligations, and the human rights of its citizens, seriously,” Ms Anderson said.

Ms Horvath was assaulted, along with her friends and partner, by a group of police during an unlawful raid on her home in March 1996. Ms Horvath was left with a fractured nose and tooth and rendered unconscious, and subsequently unlawfully arrested and detained. Her injuries required surgery and five days in hospital.

Despite clear findings in the Victorian County Court against the police officers involved in the raid on Ms Horvath’s home, no employment or disciplinary consequences flowed from the decision.  Ms Horvath also never received the full damages awarded to her for the assault as the State of Victoria refused to accept liability for the conduct of its own police.

The Not-For-Profit group recently sent a jointly-signed letter outlining the situation to senior members of the Victorian government and police service. The letter can be found here

Tags: Compensation Victoria Civil liability