Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission
Tuesday, 06 May 2014

Media Statement on the UN Human Rights Committee findings on the police assault of Corinna Horvath in 1996

The United Nations Human Rights Committee yesterday found that Victorian authorities breached the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights by failing to pay compensation to a victim after a police assault that occurred 20 years ago.

The Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission is concerned about the key human rights issues that are engaged in Corinne Horvath's case, and that Ms Horvath had no remedy to an independent investigation of her complaint against the police.

This case reinforces the need for the Victoria Government to ensure that we have best practice systems in place for responding to complaints about police conduct.

We welcome the work Victoria Police is doing in this area in response to its consultation with the community last year about racial profiling.

Given the significant powers Victoria Police exercises over members of the community, the Commission also believes that the role of independent oversight is appropriate and necessary to ensure the public can have confidence in the process when they report unfair treatment by police.

This is a necessary step to ensure that people have their human rights respected and protected. The Independent Broad-based Anti-Corruption Commission has jurisdiction to consider these issues in Victoria and they should be playing an active role.

The introduction of the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act in 2006 has brought these issues into clearer focus in state law for the police and other decision makers. It provides a mechanism to ensure human rights, including the right to be free from cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, are actively considered and protected.

This has had a very positive effect on the Victorian community and continues to illustrate the unique position Victoria is in with legislation that protects human rights.

The Commission is the regulatory body for human rights and equal opportunity in Victoria. It is an advocate for the law and has statutory functions under the Charter for promoting the Charter and human rights.