NSWCCL News

Expanding Police Powers to Use Lethal Force

President of NSWCCL, Stephen Blanks discusses the amended Terrorism (Police Powers) Act with FBi Radio and provides the following comments:

"Well, what the legislation enables is the Commissioner, or if he's not available, the Assistant Police Commissioner to declare an event to be a terrorist event or a likely terrorist event. So it doesn't actually have to be a terrorist event, just likely -- and in that situation police are authorised to use lethal force to bring the event to an end, regardless. And what that means in practice is that they can sue lethal force even if there is no imminent threat of danger to life or serious injury."

"The recommendation came out of the Coroner's report and the problem that the Coroner identified was that the police were confused about the extent of the power they had. and instead of treating it as a situation where the police lawyers needed better training or police needed access to better legal advice, the recommendation was to change the law to enable the police to use lethal force in circumstances where the seriousness of the event might not justify it. What we've ended up with is very unsatisfactory and that it got rushed through Parliament in just a day."

"Effectively the religious or political motivation, or imputed political or religious motivation, of the event is going to be the criteria for using lethal force. Now that is just entirely inappropriate. You can just see the way in which if this power is used without a great deal of care, it is going to cause significant community opposition if somebody gets killed."

"The unintended consequences are that somebody could be killed by police where there has been no imminent threat to life or serious injury, and the use of lethal force, objectively is unnecessary, in order to resolve the situation. I'm not sure that's an unintended consequence, that might actually be the intended consequence or there's no other reason for bringing in the legislation. That is what it's going to enable, and then the police will be legally unaccountable for their actions."

Hear the entire Radio Show: NSW Police Powers, The Vatican and Sydney Fire Safety

Source: FBi Radio

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Submission on Civil penalties regime for the non-consensual sharing of intimate images - June 2017

CCL supports a statutory prohibition at Commonwealth level of the non-consensual sharing of intimate images. Harm, humiliation and harassment of victims, through the actual or threat of non-consensual sharing of such images, has led to suicide in some cases.

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Submission to The Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Powers, Offences and Other Measures) Bill 2017 - June 2017

a consequence of the proposed legislation is that Aboriginal people will  forego access to legal advice and/or a prisoner’s friend in custody. Access to fair trial  rights such as the right to silence and the privilege against self-incrimination will be  severely restricted, with the effect of unfairly incriminating Aboriginal people. Such a law  will almost certainly increase the over-representation of Aboriginal people in prison.

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'Shoot to kill' bill rushed through NSW parliament.

As part of its response to the Coroner's Report on the Lindt Cafe seige and other recent terrorist events in Australia the NSW Government has flagged a package of new counter-terrorism laws which it will implement. Much of this legislation will be part of a new national counter-terrorism package which is to be more thoroughly considered by a special COAG meeting in the near future. 

Today however,  the question of careful consideration was not on the agenda when the NSW Government introduced the  TERRORISM LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (POLICE POWERS AND PAROLE) BILL 2017 with the intention of forcing it through Parlaiment in one or two days. 

This Bill  extends police powers to use lethal force in a declared terrorist incident as well as mandating a presumption against parole for people who have demonstrated support for or links to terrorist activity. 

NSWCCL is deeply concerned about aspects of this Bill -especially the proposed broader trigger for the use by police of lethal powers (shoot to kill powers) in a declared terrorist incident- or a likely terrorist incident.   

We do not consider it necessary- police have adequate and appropriate powers to use lethal force now when there is  an imminent or immediate threat to life or of serious injury. 

We consider it likely to have unintended and potentially dangerous consequences. 

We are appalled that this Bill is being pushed through the NSW Parliament without reasonable time for consideration of the detailed drafting by the Parliament itself or the legal community. 

The Bill was passed by the Legilsative Assembly this morning after a short and perfunctory debate. Only the Greens opposed it.  No doubt it will be pushed through the Legislative Council this afternoon. 

NSWCCL registers its concern at this hasty process and our opposition to the Bill in its current form. 

 

Read NSWCCL's Statement on the Bill 

 

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October 1 deadline for protection applications

The Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Peter Dutton, recently set a deadline for asylum seekers living in Australia to make their applications for protection.  There about 7,500 people affected.  Each adult has to fill in a complex 41 page form, and to fill in a 25 page form for each of their children, babies and all.

Asylum seekers have only one chance to apply for protection, and mistakes on their forms will lead to some being sent back to the dangers from which they have fled.  Any inconsistencies, for example with what they said when they arrived in Australia, can be fatal. 

Mr. Dutton is not providing the legal assistance essential to ensure that the forms are completed appropriately, nor does the government provide the interpreter services that are required.  Volunteer organisations and lawyers acting pro bono do not have a hope of completing the work in time. 

We are asking you to write to your member of parliament, to a senator, and to the minister, asking them to remove this deadline, and request that legal and interpreter help is funded by the government.

Could you please let us know if you are in communication with any members of parliament on this issue.

 

Martin Bibby, Convenor, CCL Asylum Seekers Action Group

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Warning over politicising parole system

Allowing attorneys-general to make decisions about parole is a "recipe for corruption", warns the NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Stephen Blanks.

Malcolm Turnbull will meet with state and territory leaders in Hobart on Friday to discuss an overhaul of the parole system after Melbourne parolee Yacqub Khayre shot dead a clerk and took a woman hostage in an apartment block on Monday night.

The prime minister said any decision to grant parole to a person with a background of violence and terrorist-related activity should go "to the very top", referring to state attorneys-general.

Mr Blanks said Mr Turnbull, as a lawyer, should know the role of attorney-general is "a political role not a judicial role".

"If a decision to grant parole is to be subject to approval of an attorney-general, one might take bets as to how soon it will be before an attorney-general was the subject of proceedings in ICAC for corruption - it is a recipe for corruption," Mr Blanks told AAP on Wednesday.

Article: Warning over politicising parole system

Source: The Australian

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Human Rights for NSW

We have been working with Amnesty International on a campaign to generate support for a NSW Bill of Rights. Victoria has one. The ACT has one. Queensland is getting one. It is time we had a human rights act in New South Wales. There have been two previous attempts to introduce a human rights act in New South Wales. The last attempt was over 10 years ago.

It is time to try again. Go to humanrightsfornsw to find out more.

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Border Advice for Muslims Alarms Australian Official — but It Came From His Department

Mr. Edries [President of the Muslim Legal Network NSW] said his group had received similar advice in 2015 from representatives of the Border Force, which is under Mr. Dutton’s authority, in a training session. He said he was dismayed by Mr. Dutton’s letter Tuesday and by how the network’s guide, “Anti-Terrorism Laws: ASIO, the Police and You,” had been depicted in the news media.[...]

“It was pretty upsetting for it be portrayed as anything other than an education piece, particularly because we used information provided by the government,” Mr. Edries said.

It was not the first time Mr. Dutton, a conservative, had offended Muslim communities. Last year, he caused an outcry after asserting that former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser should not have allowed Lebanese Muslim migrants into Australia.

The 95-page booklet by the Muslim Legal Network NSW, released last week, is the most recent edition of its guide to Australia’s complex counterterrorism laws, originally published in 2004. Mr. Edries said lawyers and other experts had worked on the latest version for more than 18 months.[...]

The edition has been updated to cover new laws related to citizenship and passports, mandatory metadata retention, and the extension of control orders — court-imposed restrictions on movements or communications — to children as young as 14. It also features a new section on secrecy provisions, preventive detention and police stop-and-search powers.

“It’s really difficult when we try to pick up information that is provided generally from the government and provide it in an easy to understand communiqué and then be put under suspicion,” Mr. Edries said.

Lesley Lynch, vice president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, called the reaction to the booklet “a heartbreakingly outrageous interpretation.” She said the legal network should have been praised for producing an easily understood guide to terrorism laws.

“A huge of number of people get picked up for having material that is entirely innocent,” she said. “It’s one of those kinds of things the average person in whatever community is not going to be on top of. The serious terrorist would be researching this stuff anyhow.”

Article: Border Advice for Muslims Alarms Australian Official — but It Came From His Department

Source: New York Times

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Keenan rejects Abbott call: ‘Police already have shoot-to-kill power’

The former prime minister Tony Abbott said in a radio interview “We do need to give police a shoot-to-kill power where they reasonably think they’re in a terrorist situation.” 

However, Mr Keenan said police already had such power. “This policy is outlined in the National Counter-Terrorism Plan, which was agreed to by the commonwealth and states,” he said.

“Australians can be assured that our police have every power necessary to allow them to respond with the required force to remove a terrorism threat.”

The Australian can reveal a confidential field manual used by the Australian Federal Police says that as “an option of last resort”, officers are empowered to use lethal force for self-defence or to prevent death or serious injury to others. Police law expert Rick Sarre, of the University of South Australia, said Monis gave up a big part of his legal entitlement when he took out a gun, threatened to kill hostages and said he had a bomb.

Stephen Blanks of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties said the law was adequate and warned against a situation where police were absolved from all accountability. “The overall objective is to minimise loss of life and harm to innocent hostages in a siege situation. It’s not always the case that early armed action by police is going to achieve that objective.”

Article: Keenan rejects Abbott call: ‘Police already have shoot-to-kill power’

Source: The Australian

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It’s Time for an Australian Bill of Rights

Stephen Blanks, president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL), has been advocating for an Australian bill of rights for years now.

Mr Blanks favours a constitutional model, “because then it does achieve the objective of making it difficult for parliament to pass laws that are inconsistent with human rights.” He added that human rights “ought to be bedrock to a free society,” and parliament shouldn’t be able to trade them off “for other political considerations.”

According to Blanks, “one of the problems with the Australian legal system now is that if people’s human rights are infringed’ the only recourse they have is to “make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC).”

A constitutional bill of rights would give citizens the right to take legal action when their rights have been infringed upon, Mr Blanks added.

“Over the next few years, I think it’s really going to emerge that the Commonwealth will be out of step with community opinion in the states,” Mr Blanks told Sydney Criminal Lawyers.

The NSWCCL recommends establishing a Human Rights Act at the federal level. This would work as an interim measure before changes to the constitution were made.

This legislation would “restrict parliament’s ability to pass laws that are inconsistent with human rights,” Blanks explained. “Not absolutely. But raise barriers.”

Article: It's Time for an Australian Bill of Rights

Source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers

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