Madafferi v. Australia

U.N. Doc.CCPR/C/81/D/1011/2001 (Aug. 26, 2004).
Download Judgment: English

The petitioner, an Italian citizen detained by Australian authorities for breach of immigration law, alleged possible violations of family rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) due to his continued detention which led to his mental health deterioration.

Initially, when petitioner suffered a mental health deterioration while detained, he was released into home detention under medical advice. However, the authorities claimed they feared he would abscond, so they returned him to prison against medical advice. Petitioner’s psychiatric condition further worsened.

The Human Rights Committee held that Mr. Madafferi's continued detention contrary to medical and psychiatric advice constituted a contravention of his right to human dignity under Article 10 (1) (detained persons' right to humane treatment) of the ICCPR. Also, his deportation to Italy would constitute an interference with family life contrary to Articles 17 (right to privacy, family, home, correspondence, and reputation) and 23 (right to family life) of ICCPR as well as the rights of the child under Article 24. Also, the court acknowledged that the family will suffer hardship in caring for him with a mental illness.

"9.3 As to Mr. Madafferi's return to Maribyrnong Immigration Detention Centre on 25 June 2003, where he was detained until his committal to a psychiatric hospital on 18 September 2003, the Committee notes the State party's argument that as Mr. Madafferi had by then exhausted domestic remedies, his detention would facilitate his removal, and that the flight risk had increased. It also observes the author's arguments, which remain uncontested by the State party, that this form of detention was contrary to the advice of various doctors and psychiatrists,
consulted by the State party, who all advised that a further period of placement in an immigration detention centre would risk further deterioration of Mr. Madafferi's mental health. Against the backdrop of such advice and given the eventual involuntary admission of Mr. Madafferi to a psychiatric hospital, the Committee finds that the State party's decision to return Mr. Madafferi to Maribyrnong and the manner in which that transfer was affected was not based on a proper assessment of the circumstances of the case but was, as such, disproportionate. Consequently, the Committee finds that this decision and the resulting detention was in violation of article 10, paragraph 1, of the Covenant. In the light of this finding in respect of article 10, a provision of the Covenant dealing specifically with the situation of persons deprived of their liberty and encompassing for such persons the elements set out generally in article 7, it is not necessary to
separately consider the claims arising under article 7."

"9.4 The Committee notes the authors' claim that Mr. Madafferi's rights were violated under articles 10, paragraph 1, and 7 also, on the grounds of his conditions of detention, while detained in the detention centre; his alleged ill-treatment including the events surrounding the birth of his child; and, in particular, the State party's failure to address the deterioration of his mental health and to take appropriate action. The Committee recalls that Mr. Madafferi spent a first period in the detention centre between 16 March 2001 and March 2002, and was released into home detention after a decision of the Minister in February 2002, on the basis of medical evidence. Although the Committee considers it unfortunate that the State party did not react more
expeditiously in implementing the Minister's decision, which the State party has acknowledged took six weeks, it does not conclude that such delay in itself violated any of the provisions of the Covenant. Equally, the Committee does not find that the conditions of Mr. Madafferi's detention or the events surrounding the birth of his child or return into detention, amount to a violation of any of the provisions of the Covenant beyond the finding already made in the previous
paragraph.

View full summary and print   |   Download summary as PDF