A Supreme Court appeal decision to be handed down today (29/7) could have far-reaching implications for the investigation of complaints against police in Victoria, say advocates for Nassir Bare, who is seeking independent investigation of an alleged serious assault by Victoria Police in 2009.
The allegations include Mr Bare having his teeth chipped while being pushed into the gutter, being capsicum sprayed while handcuffed, and being racially slurred by Victoria Police officers in February 2009, when he was 17 years old.
The decision will address whether Victorian law – in particular, the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities – recognises a right to independent investigation of serious complaints made against police, rather than the existing practice of police investigating police.
‘Currently few young people have the confidence in the system to make complaints. However, we believe a fully independent investigation process would see the number of complaints from young people and adults substantially rise,’ said Tiffany Overall, Advocacy and Human Rights Officer with Youthlaw, today.
‘Most police are trying to do the right thing and are committed to providing professional services of the highest standard, but they too are thwarted by an inability to bring those engaged in abusive behaviour to account.
‘An independent and robust investigation of complaints against police would ensure that police who engage in abuse are prevented from perpetrating further harm, would deter future human rights abuses, and instil greater confidence in Victoria Police,’ Ms Overall said.
Mr Bare brought the action because he did not have confidence in Victoria Police investigating his complaint due to genuine concerns that information about him or his complaint might be passed on to the officer involved, risking reprisals from local police.
The appeal follows a March 2013 Supreme Court decision that police could themselves lawfully investigate his complaint, which was referred back to them after being first reported to the then Office of Police Integrity, now the Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission
‘We are hopeful today’s judgement will find that current Victorian law implies a right to fully independent investigation of police human rights abuses.
‘Whatever the outcome of the decision, we will be calling on the Victorian Government to put in place the mechanisms and resources required to ensure all complaints of police misconduct are independently investigated,’ Ms Overall said
‘The Victorian Government needs to strengthen legislative powers and resources of IBAC so that all investigations into police human rights abuses are conducted independently of Victoria Police.
Mr Bare was assisted to take his case to the courts through support of Youthlaw and pro bono assistance from private law firm Maddocks, and counsel Jason Pizer, Emrys Nekvapil and Fiona Spencer.
The Court of Appeal judgment in the matter of Bare v Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission (S APCI 2013 0045) will be handed down at 9.45am on Wednesday 29 July in the Red Court of the Supreme Court of Victoria.
For media comment:
Tiffany Overall, Advocacy and Human Rights Officer, Youthlaw, on 0400 903 034 or
Ariel Couchman, Director, Youthlaw, on 0438 812 937
Anthony Kelly, Chief Executive Officer, Flemington & Kensington Community Legal Centre, on 0407 815 333
Anna Brown, Director – Advocacy & Strategic Litigation, Human Rights Law Centre, on 0422 235 522
For media assistance:
Darren Lewin-Hill, Communications Manager, Federation of Community Legal Centres, on 0488 773 535.