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A study in racism, hypocrisy and bastardry

Categories: Australian Federal Police, Commonwealth Government, Corruption, Discrimination/Racism, Hypocrisy, Rule of Law

by: Bakchos
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Clearly, with the expansion of the AFP under Mick Keelty and with the blessing of the Howard government, the AFP has morphed into something unrecognisable. It’s forgotten its core business and turned into a rogue arm of government at the government’s disposal to help effect political goals. (Susan Merrell Journalist)

In the wake of the September 11 and Bali bombings, Australia began to taken a more interventionist approach in dealing with our near neighbours in the Pacific. Along with similar programs in Nauru, Fiji and the Solomons, the Enhanced Cooperation Package (ECP) in PNG signalled a significant policy shift in the way Australia engaged with her neighbours in the pacific. The focus shifted towards ensuring regional stability for Australia’s national interest.

To this end, the Howard government began deploying Australian Federal Police to Papua New Guinea in September 2004. This deployment followed a decision by the Papua New Guinea parliament on July 27 to pass legislation allowing the 230 Australian Federal Police and 64 public servants who were installed in key legal, financial and border security positions in PNG immunity from local law. The Australian government insisted on this before allowing the $800 million ECP through.

The ECP was announced in December 2003 at the 15th Australia-Papua New Guinea Ministerial Forum in Adelaide. Subsequent to this announcement and prior to the deployment of Australian police and public servants to PNG, the PNG government came under intense domestic pressure to resist Canberra’s demand that its police, judges, lawyers, accountants, economists and customs and immigration officials operate under Australian, not PNG, law.

In a singular act of cynical bastardry in the lead up to their deployment to PNG in September 2004, the Australian Federal Police arrested and charged Mr. Fred Martens in August 2004 under Australia’s child sex tourism laws. Mr. Martens would eventually serve more than 2½ years in prison after being convicted under Australian child sex tourism laws, during which time his young daughter would die of malaria in PNG because the Australian Federal Police had frozen his assets after his arrest, meaning that his family could not afford appropriate medical attention for his daughter.

The facts

  • A girl alleged Mr Martens had twice – in March and mid-September 2001 – flown her to the capital, Port Moresby, where she applied for a passport and visa to attend school in Australia, with an alleged sexual assault occurring on the second visit.
  • Soon after his arrest in August 2004 he had asked investigating AFP agents to obtain various records and documents about his flights and her passport application, which he said would prove the girl’s statement was wrong.
  • Many of these documents, which could prove the flight was in August, were never produced at his trial. He was convicted and lost an appeal, but was later granted a second review. He was exonerated.

The ‘rule of law’ issues

  • Immigration records showed Mr Martens was not in PNG at the time of either of the flights and the alleged rape. Typed records supplied by the AFP at the trial had said he was in PNG.
  • A doctor who certified the passport application photos was not called as a witness. He could have given the dates she was in Port Moresby.
  • PNG police approached the wrong fuel company about the plane‘s refuelling records so these were not in evidence.
  • The AFP officer swore PNG’s Civil Aviation Authority had advised it had not kept records of the flight. But Mr. Marten’s partner later obtained records of the plane’s take-offs, movements and landings over the counter from the authority

Excerpt from the Martens judgement

R v Martens [2009] QCA 351

[164] That leaves for consideration the CA Authority flight records. These are crucial to the petitioner’s case. The respondent submits they should be disregarded, or discounted, because they are not fresh evidence. The records could, the respondent argues, have produced them at his trial had he and his solicitors made reasonable efforts to obtain them.

[165] The submission does little credit to the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions. The records are of critical importance. The petitioner, and his advisors, have asserted that fact ever since his arrest in 2004. The evidence, some of which I will mention shortly, indicates that the petitioner has consistently requested the prosecutor to obtain the records which he claimed would exonerate him by establishing that GN’s complaint is unreliable. The prosecutor did not provide the records. Instead it told the petitioner that they did not exist. They were found after the petitioner’s conviction as a result of efforts made by his wife.

[166] In April 2005, during the petitioner’s committal, [Australian Federal Police officer, Tania Stokes] was questioned by the petitioner’s counsel about the availability of the records. She said that she and another AFP officer had made inquiries of the CA Authority but had been told that records of aircraft movements were not ordinarily kept for more than three months. Her purpose in seeking the records had been to confirm when, between 10 and 16 September 2001, the petitioner flew into Port Moresby from the Western Province. It can be observed that the production of the records should have been important to the prosecution case, as corroborating GN’s evidence of a flight on 14 September, or between 10 and 16 September. Ms Stokes was asked by the petitioner’s counsel to make further inquiries for the records and undertook to do so, but said she had been told that “every avenue” had already been explored. In her evidence Ms Stokes read an email sent to the AFP from Inspector Ibsagi of the PNG Police. The email read in part:

“… inquiries with PNG CAA – according to them is not a legal requirement … to keep all the flight records that are undertaken by individual pilots thus they do not have records of (the petitioner) flying any of those aircraft.”

[167] In August of 2005 when the committal resumed Ms Stokes was asked about her further investigation. She said that inquiries had been made “yet again” with the CA Authority which “stated that they were unable to locate any record.”

[168] Inspector Ibsagi gave a statement on 29 August 2005. In it he said that he had personally made several inquiries of PNG’s CA Authority:

“… regarding (the petitioner’s) flying licence, aircraft registered under his name, details of an aircraft, … P2-AWF and record of his employment with airlines in PNG.”

The results of the inquiry were that the CA Authority had:

“… been unable to locate any records but they are not required under PNG law to keep these records and I consider this matter closed.”

[169] After his arrest the petitioner was released on bail, a condition of which was that he not leave Australia. It was therefore impossible for him to travel to PNG to conduct his own inquiries of the CA Authority. It was, in any event, eminently reasonable for him to rely upon the resources of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the AFP to obtain the records. They undertook the task and informed the petitioner that the records did not exist.

[170] The records have always existed and have now been produced. It is a poor reflection upon the two organisations that one should have failed to find them, and denied their existence, and the other object to their use in the reference on the ground that the petitioner should have obtained them earlier. (My emphasis)

Australian neo-colonial self-interest

The sovereignty of smaller states (including Australia’s sovereignty vis-a-vis the US) will always be compromised by bigger states if they calculate that it’s in their interest to manipulate, invade, pre-empt, bully, or pressure the former to do their bidding.” (Professor Patience)

Less than a year after Mr. Martens arrested in August 2004 and the commencement of the AFP deployment to PNG in September 2004, the ECP was shattered amidst cries that it infringed on PNG’s sovereignty.

The catalyst for the ECP’s demise was the clause which gave immunity to all Australian police from PNG law. Although known before the ECP was finalised, it was not thought it would be challenged. That was until Governor of Morobe, Luther Wenge filed a reference in the PNG Supreme Court challenging a number of articles in the ECP agreement.

On May 13, 2005 the PNG court ruled that the program was unconstitutional, and upheld the challenge brought forth. All Australian personnel were promptly told to leave.

What was achieved by the act of racism, hypocrisy and bastardry by the AFP?

Mr. Marten’s summed up the Australian Federal Police’s achievements under the ECP to me recently when he said:

“Because of the nature of the accusations nobody wanted to know me or have anything to do with me. This has totally ruined my life. It has cost my businesses in Papua New Guinea millions in lost earnings.

But more importantly it has cost me the life of my daughter Stephanie, who died at six months old from malaria because I was unable to travel and secure her paperwork to bring her back to Australia for treatment.”

The death of a young girl, an innocent man’s life destroyed, all in an attempt to secure Australia’s neo-colonial interests in the Pacific.

For Australia’s democracy, Mr Marten’s case is important. Mr. Marten’s case is not an isolated incident. There have been others; Dr. Haneef, Julian Moti (the former Attorney-general of the Solomons) and the former Commissioner for ACT Revenue. One may be a mistake, two careless, by three it starts to becomes suspicious – and four, well then it becomes a very, very dangerous trend.

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