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Iranian Embassy Concerned About Saeed

Iranian Embassy expresses concerns to Minister Dutton and Premier Berejiklian about Saeed's life, safety and future in Australia.

See letter from Consulate Section of the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Hon Peter Dutton MP (Minister for Home Affairs) and The Hon Gladys Berejiklian (Premier of New South Wales).




Expanding Berrima: women-only prison

More jails, more women in prison, more government failure
Media release NSW Greens: 23 July 2018

The NSW Greens claim that expanding Berrima prison by 500 beds and making it women only is an admission of failure from a Liberal National government addicted to a law and order auction.

The women in our prisons are overwhelmingly victims of abuse, crippled by financial distress and often self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. Nearly 40% are Aboriginal. These are women that are in the greatest need of help and support, instead the Coalition government’s response is to lock them up and throw away the key.

Greens MP and Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge said in a statement on Monday:
‘Expanding Berrima and turning into a womens-only prison is an admission of failure from a government that has become addicted to police, jails and punishment.

The NSW Liberal National government has directly overseen a 50% increase in the number of women in jail. This is a national disgrace.

Aboriginal women are the fastest growing cohort, making up making up just 2.2 percent of population but 38% of the prison population.

Almost half of the women in prison haven’t even been found guilty. They are overwhelmingly single mothers, locked up on remand with a short stay in prison enough to tear their family apart.

Even when women have been found guilty it is overwhelmingly women who have committed non-violent offences, who are victims of abuse and come from a seriously disadvantaged background. These women need help not a jail cell.
The growing number of women in prison should be a wake up call to fix the system that puts them there in the first place, not to waste billions more on new and expanded prisons.

There is one simple solution to the overcrowding crisis in our prisons, it’s not building more jails, it’s to stop putting so many vulnerable people in jail in the first place.’

Hong Kong Interns

Group photos with our 2018 interns from Hong Kong.
Meet Wing, Myra, Albee and Sky!






Justice Health Failure

Media Release: July 12, 2018

“The repeated failure of NSW Health to supply evidence justifying the forced injection of Malcolm Baker caused an adjournment of the case. The Mental Health Review Tribunal ordered them to provide us with the documents". A photo and full report of this latest news is available here.

“Two days before the hearing Justice Health psychiatrists forcibly injected him with double the previous dose of paliperidone. This was despite requests to await the decision of the Tribunal. Malcolm gave evidence of the medication’s side effects, included dribbling, difficulty in speaking, memory loss, dizzy spells, high temperature, increased anger, agitation and anxiety. He said it made him sick and asked to be left alone”.

“Malcolm is a non-violent prisoner who has not harmed anyone or himself during his twenty-six years of imprisonment. He had immediately taken responsibility for his actions after a fit of jealous rage 26 years ago”. See Malcolm's full profile here

“Two earlier hearings in February and April of 2018 had resulted in orders that lasted respectively 2 and 3 months. During each period, Mr Baker was relocated to Long Bay Prison to be forcibly injected. On neither occasion was it justified by anything he had done, but the orders were too short for a Supreme Court challenge. On three previous occasions in 2012, 2015 and 2016 the Tribunal refused to give Justice Health the order it asked for, after Justice Action defended him”.

“We presented to the Tribunal Malcolm’s Personal Management Plan which had been created by him and his family, as a positive alternative to the forced Treatment Plan. He asked to be held in a safe area, as well as have access to education and work”.

“This behavior by the Health Department is part of the same mental health culture exposed with Miriam Merten and described officially as ‘lacking compassion and humanity’. It is ongoing torture of an isolated elderly man, and we intend to stop it”.

The Combined Churches Report

An inter-church committee reviewed and reinforced an earlier report by the Churches, called Prison: The Last Resort (1988). It called for a bipartisan approach to prison policy, provided it addresses the main issues. The committee recommended (7) that overcrowding be reduced and other conditions be addressed. It also called for (8) the immediate implementation of measures that reduce the numbers of Aboriginal people in prison as referred to by the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody.

Inter Church Steering Committee on Prison Reform (1994) Prison - not yet the last resort: a review of the NSW penal system.

Failed Health Department Plan - Media 160518

Abuse in mental health normal

Media release Wednesday May 16, 2018
The callous disrespect exposed in Lismore Hospital to dying Miriam Merten will continue. Nothing in Health’s Implementation Plan will change the culture. There will be no ongoing objective accountability, no removal of legislative protections such as s.195 MH Act, no computers and phones in seclusion areas, no alternatives to forced treatment, and no independent consumer advocacy. The timetable shows no urgency for consumers getting on Committees and no structure for electing representatives. The endemic corruption of mental health, with noses in the NSW Health Department’s annual trough of $23 billion is disgraceful to all those who don’t demand structural changes after such an exposure.

The Review by the Chief Psychiatrist made very serious criticisms of the NSW Mental Health System. It said that the NSW Mental Health culture lacked compassion and humanity (p7) or real interest in the individual beyond risk management (p22). The System used coercive compliance, had no internal oversight even after the Merten death (p29), lacked guidelines, had little evidence of engagement with consumers and carers (p35), little involvement in care plans (p.36), had no examples of the necessary leadership required to give high-quality compassionate care (p24). The Review said that peer worker support was very limited with rare access despite being a vital resource to lessen seclusion and restraint (p33). It requires urgent action.

The case of Saeed Dezfouli shows that abuse of power is endemic to mental health, regarding the disabled as easy targets without rights. Locked in the Forensic Hospital Saeed has been refused access to a computer or legal information even though he has to argue for his freedom against the barristers of the Attorney General and Justice Health on a difficult point of law. The Medical Superintendent Dr Ellis stated that Saeed could handwrite his Submissions, would have no more than two hours a week with a computer, could borrow necessary books from public libraries, and would have no more than 30 minutes a week to access the internet, with a staff member using the mouse and keyboard. As a prisoner, he would get a computer and information.

Saeed’s case has international interest, where due process and the Rule of Law must be maintained. Justice Health submitted to the Mental Tribunal its concern about further criticism of Australia from the UN Committee of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with continuing media attention. It said that Saeed is costing them too much money and causing staff to be frustrated because he isn’t submissive despite being forcibly medicated. He and Miriam are examples of thousands of others where Health has lost its obligation to be person centred. It needs external and consumer monitoring as effective as the CCTV and media exposure for Miriam.

Tribunal Hearing - Iranian Community Safety

The Mental Health Tribunal on 23 February 2018 declined a request from Mr. Dezfouli for his unconditional release and repatriation to Iran. It said that it needed to consider the safety of Iranian citizens and the adequacy of Iranian mental health services. That “any member of the public” appearing in ss43(a) and 74(d) of the Mental Health (Forensic Provisions) Act 1990 (MHFPA) includes members of the public of foreign countries. 

A Special Hearing has been set down in the Forensic Hospital Long Bay on May 24 to argue the law.

Tribunal's response to Saeed's request: 

To read more about Saeed's case, see Saeed Dezfouli 


Report of Tribunal Hearing February 23, 2018

On the 23rd of February a hearing was conducted by the Mental Health Tribunal (MHT) in regards to the fate of Saeed Dezfouli, a prisoner wrongfully held in indefinite detention by the NSW mental health system. Presided by Richard Cogswell and two other members of the MHT, the hearing was also attended by the head of Long Bay Forensic Hospital, Dr Andrew Ellis, head psychiatrist, Dr Sathish Dayalan, and nurses. Saeed Dezfouli represented himself at the hearing with Justice Action coordinator and primary carer Brett Collins by his side.

An SBS reporter was also expected to be present, only to be denied access moments before the hearing due to the hospital’s “confusion.” This was despite the SBS having sought permission prior to what was meant to be an “open hearing”. Saeed protested against the tribunal’s brazen attempt to “smother” the issue, and sought an adjournment until SBS was rightfully given access. Cogswell eventually conceded, and SBS was granted access via teleconference.

At the hearing Saeed read an impassioned statement to the Mental Health Tribunal. Most notably, Saeed stated that:

“If I don’t die in here, if I ever survive this and repatriate to Iran, in Iran I will do to Australia and its international reputation what Edward Snowden did to America and its international reputation…. You and your tribunal have no honor, no dignity, no morality, no principle, no values and no fairness.”

Saeed vehemently condemned the NSW mental health system for their inhumane treatment practices, particularly in regards to the privacy and sexual abuse that he suffered at the hands of medical staff. Of particular importance, a causal link was drawn between Saeed’s maltreatment and his reduced lifespan- a shocking decrease of 10-15 years due to a myriad of health conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure that stemmed from his forced medication. In light of these inhumane conditions Saeed demanded for his unconditional repatriation back to Iran, and threatened a dry hunger strike should his demand not be met.

Cogswell argued that the Mental Health Tribunal was bound by the law, most notably s 43 of the Mental Health Act 2007 (NSW). Release would only be granted if Saeed did not pose a risk to his own safety and that of others, included citizens of Iran who needed to be protected by Australian style mental health processes. The Iranians believe Saeed should be repatriated, stating they had no concerns and felt Saeed deserves a fair go and to return to family in Iran. Cogswell refused to take into consideration Saeed’s threats of a hunger strike. Despite a lack of any evidence, Dr Sathish Dayalan determined that Saeed would indeed pose a risk to people in Iran.

Brett Collins then spoke up, dispelling the Mental Health Tribunal’s farcical case. Brett drew light to the fact that throughout Saeed’s 16-year incarceration he has never been violent or aggressive to anyone, and thus proven himself to not be a danger to himself nor others. If released to Iran, Saeed would be surrounded by family members and supported by a directly nominated psychiatrist if needed. He would finally be given the appropriate standard of care and support in accordance with s 68 of the Mental Health Act.

At the conclusion of hearing the Tribunal said that they had no intention of releasing Saeed, citing that although they were satisfied that Saeed would not pose a risk to the Iranian public, there was a high chance of non-compliance with the coercive Australian mental health standards should Saeed be repatriated to Iran.

Saeed’s plight exposes the corruption of the mental health system, one that prioritises strict obedience and submission over that of patient welfare.

Iran response to MHRT December 20, 2017

In response to the NSW Mental Health Review Tribunal (MHRT), the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran has presented a letter addressing Saee Dezfouli's poor experiences within the NSW mental health care system and his protest against it. The Embassy reminds the MHRT of thier duty of care and 'how to treat and handle (thier) citizens'. 

Download letter here

Media Release: Dry Hunger Strike in Mental Hospital

 Dry Hunger Strike in Mental Hospital

Media release: March 12, 2018

Saeed Dezfouli feels betrayed by the Mental Health Review Tribunal. “I am left with no other alternative but to commence a dry hunger strike (nil by mouth) to protest the inhumane behavior of the NSW Mental Health System” said Mr Dezfouli. He is currently on his 6th day of the strike.

“In April 2016 the Tribunal said it wanted to find a quick resolution to getting Saeed back home to Iran. However at a formal hearing on the 23rd of February 2018, the President of the Tribunal Richard Cogswell set new conditions for an order for Saeed’s repatriation to Iran. He insisted that on arrival Iranian authorities must apprehend Saeed and incarcerate him in a secure mental health facility. However the Iranian Embassy said in writing December 20, 2017 to Mr Cogswell that it would be ‘unlawful, unfair and immoral’ for the Iranian government to deprive Saeed from his rights to freedom in Iran. Sharia Law entitles him to a fair go it said. And he has family and a psychiatrist to assist him voluntarily if he needs that”

“Saeed also wants to expose the institutionalised ‘sit down, put up and shut up’ policy occurring in the hospital in regards to forced medication. In contradiction to providing the “best possible care and treatment” as required under s 68 of the Mental Health Act 2007, the hospital’s forced medication has caused him to develop diabetes and heart disease. During his ‘treatment’ Saeed has been forcibly medicated trialling nine different medications, often being restrained by eight nurses to be injected. Currently he is refusing all of his cardiac medications for his heart disease, which the clinicians will cause his death” 

Mr Saeed Dezfouli used to be a dual Iranian and Australian citizen, but in August 2017 he successfully renounced his Australian citizenship to repatriate to Iran. This was done in protest against his indefinite detainment in the inhumane NSW mental health system since 2002. If Saeed were tried through the criminal justice system he would have served three and a half years in prison, however he has served over 16 years. Despite ongoing reviews with the Mental Health Review Tribunal, Saeed is still being held in the maximum-security area at Long Bay Forensic Hospital. Here his legal, civil and human rights have been abused to the point where Saeed has expressed that ‘death is better than what I am experiencing’” 

“If I die in here, I hope that just like the death of Miriam Merton in Lismore Base Mental Hospital in June 2014, my death also results in reforming NSW’s dysfunctional and corrupt mental health system and tribunal. I hope no other human being or forensic patient ever has to experience what I have observed and experienced” said Mr Dezfouli.

For comment:  Brett Collins 0438 705 003


ACT Prison Report

ACT Computers in Cells Report The Community Justice Coalition (CJC) resolved to arrange a visit to the Alexander Maconochie Centre (AMC), Australian Capital Territory. 

This visit intended to extend the work into the Computers in Cells program. The insights of the ACT experience with in-cell technology would also promote further discussions in other jurisdictions. That experience of internet-connected computers in cells indicates that there are many key benefits including communication with families, access to education and information. It also reduces boredom.

Recidivism within the ACT has been on the decline, while in NSW and Australia in general it has been increasing. Only 39% of ACT prisoners return to prison within 2 years, compared to NSW at 50.7% and the national average of 44.3%. Education participation in the ACT prison stands at 76.3%, which is more than double the national rate of 31.6%.

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