ARCHumankind appeals Australia on behalf of whistle-blower Bernard Collaery

On 8 August 2019, ARCHumankind appealed to Justin Brown, the Ambassador of Australia to the European Union, on the occasion of the ongoing legal proceedings against Mr Bernard Collaery, the former attorney-general of the Australia Capital Territory, who is facing charges under Section 39 of the Intelligence Services Act. Mr Collaery is accused of conspiring to share information protected under the same act. Internationally, Mr Collaery is known for representing the interests of the people of East Timor.

Whilst it is true that Mr Collaery is a man of both courage and high moral principles, and that he is a subject to the Australian judicial system, ARCHumankind is strongly of the opinion that whistle-blowers such as Mr Collaery hold a special place in the international system of ‘checks and balances’ that holds states accountable and keeps human, social and political rights ahead of other state interests. ARCHumankind advocates for Bernard Collaery to be perceived as an Australian and an international hero.

Photo courtesy of Jack Bulldog on Wikimedia Commons

The full letter is published here below:

H.E. Ambassador Justin Brown

Avenue des Arts 56

Bruxelles, 1000


Brussels, 8 August 2019

Subject: Legal proceedings against Mr Bernard Collaery

Dear Ambassador Brown,

Mr Peter Murphy – an Australian citizen, a supporter of Timorese Independence since 1975, and a member of the SEARCH Foundation Committee – along with other Australian Human rights defenders have called our best attention to the predicament of the former Australia Capital Territory attorney-general (at present lawyer) Bernard Collaery, who is facing charges for ‘conspiring to share information protected by Section 39 of the Intelligence Services Act’.

Australia is a democracy most admired across the world, praised for its role in bringing peace to East Timor after the terrible massacres suffered by its population, and for signing a new border Treaty with East Timor in March 2018, acknowledging the unfairness of the previous one depriving East Timor of its full rights.

In so doing, Australia set a very important landmark by raising respect for the principle of justice in international relations above particular interests. I can hardly overstate how important this example is in the present world, which is characterised by the erosion of both the rule of law and humanitarian principles.

For this to have happened, the courage, civic attitude and high moral principles of the Australian citizen, former high official and barrister Bernard Collaery were crucial, and we would like to express our full admiration for his standing.

ARCHumankind does not want to interfere with the Australian domestic democratic mechanisms, but believes the plight of Mr Bernard Collaery to have a major international meaning and to have major significance to all of those who believe that any state power must be constrained by a system of checks and balances.

Whereas both democracies and authoritarian states have Intelligence Services, only democracies set limits and constraints to their activities, clearly dividing public and private interests; defence and security from purely financial interests. Whistle-blowers are essential elements allowing the society to realise the overstepping of red-lines by those entrusted to serve the public interest.

In these circumstances we would like to express our deep respect and admiration for Mr Bernard Collaery and to appeal to the Australian authorities to see him being treated and dealt with as someone who is an Australian and international hero.

Yours faithfully,

Paulo Casaca

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