The Age reports the apology by County Court Judge Felicity Hampel to alleged people-smuggler Aldo Tunnga:
”I can only say, Mr Tunnga, it is a matter of regret that you have been in custody for so long,” Judge Hampel said. ”We like to think of ourselves as a fair country, one that balances the rights of a person charged with a criminal offence to be treated with the presumption of innocence …
”The time that you have spent in immigration detention and then in custody in this country is in my view too long a time between a person’s arrival and charge and their release – in circumstances where the Director of Public Prosecutions eventually takes the view that there is insufficient evidence to support a conviction against you and therefore discontinues. All I can do now is direct your release from custody and wish you speedy return to your country.”
The restoration of judicial discretion over the sentencing of people-smugglers should enhance our claim to being “a fair country”. However, the introduction of the “no advantage” rationale in the treatment of those who have made use of the service of people-smugglers vetoes any claim to fairness to which we have ever been entitled. Tormenting people by holding them in indefinite detention as a deterrence to undertaking dangerous voyages in search of asylum is injustice on a Kafkaesque level. Any future apology will provide scant recompense.
Misogynist nut-jobs deserve the kick in the nuts, but Gillard has not earned a pat on the back from me.