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Australian Women Without Borders vs. Mercer PR

Case overview

Date filed 27 October 2016
Current status Concluded
Issue Privacy violation of sexual assault victim
Summary of the case On 27 October 2016, the National Justice Project submitted a complaint on behalf of Australian Women Without Borders against Mercer PR to the Australian National Contact Point. The complaint alleged that Mercer PR had breached Chapter IV (on Human Rights) of the OECD Guidelines when it distributed the personal information of an alleged sexual assault victim who was given the pseydonym "Najma" for the purposes of the complaint. The breach occurred by way of the email dissemination to media outlets of a statement that included a copy of a Nauruan police document revealing Najma's identity and medical details. The distribution of Najma’s personal information had a significant impact on her. The complaint sought a formal apology from Mercer PR which acknowledged the harm it had caused. It also requested that Mercer PR introduce internal polices consistent with the OECD Guidelines and international human rights law, conduct human rights training for its staff, and pay Najma compensation for the harm it had caused her.  
Developments/Outcome In February 2018, the Australian NCP formally accepted the matter and offered the parties its good offices. Separate meetings were held with each party to discuss the matter. A facilitated joint discussion was originally agreed too, but did not go ahead as Mercer PR later withdrew its agreement to participate. Mercer PR claimed that they were not previously aware of the OECD Guidelines and did not intend to cause any harm. 
The Australian NCP published its decision on 9 July 2019. The National Justice Project felt the NCP's statement found in favour of Najma. Although Mercer PR is a very small enterprise, the Australian NCP stressed the importance for it of meeting standards the Government expects from all Australian enterprises operating overseas, including the standards set out in the OECD Guidelines. The Australian NCP encouraged Mercer PR to issue Najma a formal apology. The Australian NCP also recommended that Mercer PR’s executive undertake human rights training and incorporate the OECD Guidelines into Mercer PR's internal operational polices and decision-making processes. 

Although the complainant requested compensation for Najma, the Australian NCP asserted that, as a non-judicial mechanism, its role does not extend to making specific recommendations about financial damages.  
The Australian NCP stated that it would follow up these recommendations in six months. 
Relevant OECD Guidelines
Case keywords Harcèlement, Les droits de l'homme

NCP Information

NCP name National Contact Point Australia
NCP address Canberra, Australia
NCP website
Other NCPs involved


Company Information

Company responsible Mercer PR
Company address
Company website
Company in violation
Country of operations Australia
Other companies involved

Timeline of developments

Date Actor Action Description Document
9 July 2019 National Contact Point Australia statement Australian NCP issues final statement download pdf (798Kb)  
1 February 2018 National Contact Point Australia accept Australian NCP completes initial assessment accepting complaint  
27 October 2016 National Justice Project initial assessment Complaint filed to Australian NCP  

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