Corey Brough v. Australia

U.N. H.R. Comm., U.N. Doc. CCPR/C/86/D/1184/2003 (Apr. 27, 2006).
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The applicant was an underage Aboriginal Australian who alleged violation of Articles 7 (freedom from torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment), 10 (guaranteed dignity of detained persons) and 24 (child’s right to freedom from discrimination) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) when he was placed under incarceration in an adult facility, given psychiatric medicines without an official evaluation and put him in an isolation.

Corey Brough had a minor mental disability and was placed under incarceration in an adult facility at the age of 17 and then separated from other inmates on the grounds that he was a threat to their security. He was subsequently placed in a safe cell to prevent harm to himself. However, on March 30, 1999, he was reported to have harmed himself and was confined to a dry cell for 48 hours for damaging a mattress. A few days later, he was again involved in an incident with correctional officers who used force against him and confined him to a cell with no bedding or lights. He was given anti-psychotic drugs even though no mental evaluation was carried out and the treatment was continued. Brough had allegedly consented to the medication belatedly and only because he had been told that he would no longer have to be in the safe cell if he took it. Psychiatric analysis showed that he was suffering from a post-traumatic emotional effect after a month of isolation.

Brough argued that the collective effect of his treatment in the facility violated Articles 7 (freedom from torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment), 10 (guaranteed dignity of detained persons) and 24 (child’s right to freedom from discrimination) of the ICCPR and his rights as a child by placing him in an adult facility.

The Committee held that Brough had failed to prove that the correctional facility's staff used inordinate force against him in contravention of Articles 7 (freedom from torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment) and 10 (guaranteed dignity of detained persons) of the ICCPR. Further, his segregation from adults at the facility ensured that Article 10 (3) (appropriate treatment to juvenile detainees) was not breached.

However, his solitary confinement, periods of exposure to constant light, drug prescriptions and removal of clothes and blankets, supported by evidence were admissible in relation to articles 7 and 10 of the ICCPR. The Committee also noted that it was unclear whether any other treatment apart from the prescribed drugs were administered to Brough nor that his segregation was necessary or if supervised association with other under-aged prisoners would have been inappropriate. In addition, the Committee found the period of solitary confinement, the removal of his clothes and prolonged exposure to artificial light violated Articles 10 (1), 10(3) and 24 (child's right to freedom from discrimination) of the ICCPR and that Australia failed in their obligation to accord appropriate treatment to Brough taking his age and status into account.

"9.1. The Committee takes note of the author's allegation that his placement in a safe cell, as well as his confinement to a dry cell on at least two occasions, was incompatible with his age, disability and status as an Aboriginal, for whom segregation, isolation and restriction of movement within prison have a particularly deleterious effect. It notes the State party's argument that these measures were necessary to protect the author from further self-harm, to protect other inmates, and to maintain the security of the correctional facility."

"9.2 The Committee recalls that persons deprived of their liberty must not be subjected to any hardship or constraint other than that resulting from the deprivation of liberty; respect for the dignity of such persons must be guaranteed under the same conditions as for that of free persons. Inhuman treatment must attain a minimum level of severity to come within the scope of article 10 of the Covenant. The assessment of this minimum depends on all the circumstances of the case, such as the nature and context of the treatment, its duration, its physical or mental effects and, in some instances, the sex, age, state of health or other status of the victim."

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