Longtime human rights defender Gillian Triggs is being heavily criticised this week for recommending that a wife-killer be set free. But hold your outrage because we’re taking this opportunity to defend her decision.
And this week, she’s come under fire for making a decision at work involving a man who fatally beat his pregnant wife.
The man, John Basikbasik, beat his wife while drunk 15 years ago, and was sentenced by Queensland’s chief justice to seven years for manslaughter. Basikbasik, a West Papuan refugee, then spent another seven years in immigation detention once his visa was cancelled due to the horrific crime.
Then, because he’d been in custody for twice the maximum jail time he had been sentenced to, Basikbasik complained to the Human Rights Commission, which Gillian Triggs heads up.
And here’s where Triggs’ decision came in (brace yourself, because you may not like the outcome.)
Triggs found that the man should be released from detention.
Her ruling was, that to keep him in detention past that what was necessary after the completion of his sentence was a breach of human rights and she found that the Government had arbitrarily kept him inside – and intended to keep doing so – because it hadn’t really considered alternatives to custody.
She also suggested that, given compensation is available under the relevant legislation, Basikbasik should be given more than $350,000 for the extra time he was locked up.
Cue: A whole lot of outrage by a whole lot of people, including Prime Minister Tony Abbott (who told the media this decision represented “extremely questionable judgment”) and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison.
Now, Mamamia has never — and will never — condone violence against women.
We believe, in short, that there’s a special place in hell for men who kill their partners and children — and by all accounts, Basikbasik was a nasty, vile piece of work. But today, we’re defending Gillian Triggs against the Government’s attacks, and we’re defending her right to recommend that nasty, vile piece of work be freed from detention.
And here’s why:
Because the nature of human rights is that they apply to everybody – not just those people we agree with or the people whose actions and behaviour we like.