IBAC announces charges against police in Horvath case, Victoria a step closer towards implementing UN recommendations

In November 2016, Victoria’s Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC) announced that charges would be laid against a Leading Senior Constable of Victoria Police in relation to the brutal assault of Corinna Horvath nearly 20 years earlier.

In 1996, Corinna Horvath was assaulted by a group of police officers who raided her home. Her claim for damages in Victorian courts was unsuccessful, and in 2008 she filed a communication to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. In 2014 the Committee found that Ms Horvath’s right to an effective remedy had been violated, in particular for the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and arbitrary arrest and detention by the police.  The Committee recommended legislative reform to ensure that victims of police abuse can complain to an independent body and adequate compensation for Ms Horvath.

Significantly, the Victorian government has taken important steps towards implementing some the UN Human Rights Committee’s recommendations. In September 2014, Ms Horvath received an ex-gratia compensation payment from the State of Victoria, accompanied by a letter of apology from Chief Commissioner Ken Lay. In October 2014, IBAC established an own motion review into the way Victoria Police dealt with Ms Horvath’s complaint. In November 2016, following IBAC’s review, charges were laid against a police offic

However, whilst the personal redress to Ms Horvath is welcome, Victoria is yet to make the systemic changes recommended by the Human Rights Committee. The Human Rights Committee’s decision makes it clear that internal police investigations allegations of police brutality is unacceptable – Victoria must establish a truly independent body to conduct impartial investigations.

Flemington Kensington Community Legal Centre act for Ms Horvath and background to the case can be found at http://www.policeaccountability.org.au/corinna-horvath/

For an analysis of how IBAC can make human rights central to its decision making, read Tamar Hopkins, former Principal Lawyer at Flemington Kensington CLC here.