MORGAN, Wayne. ANU lawyer: "Bringing them Home correctly names the practice of forced removal for what it is: a practice of genocide.”

Wayne Morgan has been an Academic Lawyer since 1990. He began teaching at Melbourne University. He has also taught at Charles Darwin University and Flinders University, joining the ANU in 2001. Internationally, he has taught at Columbia University, USA and Nan Kai University, China. He teaches a range of subjects in both international and domestic law, including International Trade Law and International Dispute Resolution. He instigated Law and Sexuality studies at Melbourne University and teaches this subject at the ANU. Wayne maintains a small anti-discrimination and human rights practice, where he advises pro-bono clients on discrimination and UN Human Rights Committee cases. He has advised on UN Communications in indigenous issues, as well as refugee and sexuality issues (see: http://law.anu.edu.au/scripts/staffdetails.asp?StaffID=245 ).

 

Wayne Morgan on “Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families”   by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 1997 (1997):At the end of May 1997, the Federal Government finally released the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission report into the stolen generations…. When I read the Report, like so many others, I was appalled by the stories which are recounted: the experiences of loss and grief and pain; the ongoing effects of abduction and abuse. I was also angered by the depth of this injustice. I don't see how anyone can read the Report without understanding the crucial need for an adequate and just response. Again, unfortunately, such a response has not been forthcoming. The Report's recommendations have not been accepted, indeed, some have been rejected outright, despite the fact that the Government has still not officially responded. The Prime Minister has refused to apologise on behalf of the nation and the obligation to pay reparations has been denied… But perhaps the most controversial aspect of Bringing them home has been the Inquiry's finding that the practices of 'removal' amounted to genocide. Much hostility has been directed towards this finding. Politicians, newspaper editorials and many non-Aboriginal Australians have rejected any such notion. Even many of those who admit the injustice and see a need for reparations are still unable to name the practices of removal as 'genocide'. My purpose here is to comment on this aspect of the Report. I summarise the Report's findings about genocide and assess them according to international human rights law. My conclusion remains that, whatever the reluctance of some Australians to see the situation for what it is, the Report's conclusions with respect to genocide are unassailable… This evidence of 'mixed motives' behind the policy of removal brings us to the question of how 'intent' is interpreted under the Genocide Convention. Although the question is not free from doubt, a review of the major published works on genocide confirm the conclusion of the Report, that a policy motivated out of a desire to destroy a culture, even coupled with a misguided belief that this was in the best interests of the people concerned, would satisfy the requirement of intent to commit genocide… It is perhaps not surprising that so many non-Indigenous Australians have trouble seeing the practices of removal as 'genocide'. The idea of genocide, at least in the popular imagination, remains fixed on gas chambers and mass executions. But the drafters of the Genocide Convention understood that the destruction of a culture and a people need not be so crude. There are more insidious forms of genocide, like forced removals. Practice and interpretation of the Genocide Convention since its drafting confirm this. Whether Anglo-Australians like it or not, Bringing them Home correctly names the practice of forced removal for what it is: a practice of genocide.” [1].

 

[1]. Wayne Morgan on “Bringing Them Home: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families”   by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, AGPS, Canberra, 1997 (1997):, Indigenous Law Bulletin, 1997: http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/journals/ILB/1997/95.html .
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