There are calls for New South Wales Police to urgently review a secretive policy that targets children with house calls and public searches.
The Suspect Target Management Plan - or STOMP as it's known - is a program that aims to prevent crime by pre-emptively targeting people thought to be at risk of offending.
Sample data from 10 Local Area Commands, published in a recent report, reveals 45 per cent of people on the plan were Indigenous, and children as young as 10 were being targeted.
The Aboriginal Legal Service and the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties are calling for the program to be partially suspended until a review can take place.
NSW CCL President, Stephen Blanks says there is no publicly available evidence that the program works to prevent crime. "The police are structured in a way that there are no statistics recorded, no information provided, no oversight, just no accountability at all. The community has no way of knowing if its doing more harm than good."
He continued "It's disappointing that the police haven't reacted to the release of this report so far. There is an opportunity for the police to start a new chapter of community engagement and respond to this report by saying that they will allow some accountability, oversight and assessment of the program to see whether it is achieving its objectives. If the police don't do that themselves, than the government should step in and make it happen.
In the interim, some of the more obviously abusive elements of this program, the way that it's aimed at children for example, should be suspended until there is proper accountability and assessment.
The Minister has the power to direct the police in relation to implementation of programs of this kind. So, if the police don't reform themselves, then the Minister should be stepping in."
Source: ABC Radio PM
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has long supported the legalisation of Voluntary Assisted Dying measures. While noting that, compared with existing VAD legislation in other jurisdictions, it is very conservative, the NSWCCL will actively campaign for the passage of the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill currently before the NSW Parliament.
Stephen Blanks comments that what is not before the public is advanced legislation in NSW and it will come to the table 15 November or sometime later next month. We have a motion which is very timely and in reflection in our long support the bill before the NSW parliament.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties, alarmed at the corrosive effect of pervasive and serious corruption within, and related to, Government and public administration at the national level, strongly supports the urgent need for a national anti-corruption body.
This body should have a broad ambit across public administration (core public service bodies and public sector corporations), public sector contractors and parliament and politicians.
While such a body must have effective power to address current corruption, there must also be effective constraints and transparent oversight to ensure that the balance between the protection of individual rights and the fight against serious corruption is as well balanced as can be devised.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties reaffirms its long standing active support for a national human rights charter.
The recurrent resistance of Australia’s politicians to a number of widely supported attempts to introduce a national human rights bill/charter over the last 44 years has left Australia as the only liberal democracy without either constitutional or statutory broad protection for fundamental human rights.
This has been a significant factor in allowing the proliferation of national laws which seriously and unwarrantedly breach human rights and liberties. The extreme manifestations of this trend in the areas of counter-terrorism and refugee law and policy in recent years necessitates a renewed community effort.
The NSWCCL will again give priority to joining other progressive bodies to campaign for an Australian Human Rights Bill in the context of the next federal election.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties, consistent with its long-standing support for GLBT rights, strongly supports marriage equality and urges the Australian Government and/or the National Parliament to amend the Marriage Act 1961 to achieve this equality.
The current same sex marriage statistical survey is an inappropriate, seriously flawed and undemocratic exercise intent on delaying Parliament addressing the issue and generating divisive and harmful debate. Nonetheless, NSWCCL strongly urges the community to register a “Yes” vote so that Government has no excuse to further delay legislative action on this matter.
Regardless of the outcome of the flawed survey, NSWCCL urges the Australian Government and/or Parliament to address the issue in this parliamentary term and introduce and pass a marriage equality amendment consistent with clear majority support within the Australian community.
NSWCCL affirms the role of unions as an essential part of the Australian democracy in the defense of workers’ rights and affirms their right to support other organizations whose activities accord with their own.
Submission of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties to the Legal and Constitutional
NSWCCL thanks the Senate Committee for the opportunity to comment on this Bill.
The Villawood Immigration Detention Centre is secured by a private company which provides public
services (Serco). In that regard, they have to follow the government rules and apply them to the
Centre. Similar arrangements apply at other Immigration Detention Facilities.
Asylum seekers who came by boat were prohibited from accessing mobile phones some time ago,
while those who came by plane had access until recently. The prohibition is the subject of a court
case brought by The National Justice Project in the Federal Court. In February this year the Court
issued a temporary injunction lifting this ban. An appeal concerning the competence of the court to
hear the case was overturned, and the case continues.
This Bill appears to be an attempt to pre-empt the Court’s finding,
The rules can be arbitrary, demeaning and unfair. Restrictions on what detainees may possess and
on what visitors may bring in with them have been the subject of abrupt changes recently.
A new requirement has been placed on visitors to have 100 points of identification a difficult task
for refugee families. Many former detainees and members of the families of detainees have only an
IMMI, which is worth only 70 points. They do not have drivers’ licences, nor other items to make up
the other 30 points. Since the identity cards are themselves issued by the Department of
Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), these should be sufficient for entry.
Mr Turnbull has previously said the data could be used to identify people at airports but also other public venues such as sporting venues and shopping centres.
The state-held data is already available to federal authorities, Justice Minister Michael Keenan said, but can take between 7-10 days to process.
Civil liberties groups said it was a “sad day” for Australia, while privacy advocates warned that it was “inevitable” the data compiled nationally for the first time would eventually be used for purposes besides counter-terrorism.
“This is a sad day when the leaders of our country say that civil liberties are not as important as they were previously, and that freedoms are to be subordinated to national security,” Stephen Blanks, President of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, told The New Daily.
Australian Privacy Foundation chair David Vaile told The New Daily that there would eventually be “scope creep”.
Source: The New Daily
Why Are People Concerned?
Digital Rights Watch is an Australian organisation that was established last year to help protect the digital rights of citizens. According to the organisation’s chair, Tim Singleton Norton, the new national facial recognition database is “a gross overreach into the privacy of everyday Australian citizens”.
“There is a severe lack of strong oversight mechanisms and general enforcement for human rights and civil liberties in this country, which results in the public being understandably wary about giving government more powers in the first place,” he said.
Singleton Norton pointed to recent data breaches from the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Immigration and Border Protection as evidence that the government was “ill-equipped to properly protect citizen’s data”.
“When individuals enter into an agreement with a government agency that includes their personal information, they should have the right to understand, be informed and have a say in where that information is held and what it’s being used for,” he said.
“Whilst we of course must ensure that our law enforcement agencies have the tools necessary to undertake their important work, this should not come at the expense of citizens’ rights to privacy.”
The new system has also been criticised by the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. Their president, Stephen Blanks, said the proposal could undermine trust in government.
“It is quite alarming when information you have given to government for one purpose is then used for an entirely different purpose,” he said.
COAG has agreed to the establishment of a National Facial Biometric Matching Capability which will have access to all drivers licences in Australia - as well as visa, passport and citizenship photos. This massive biometric database will be available to state and federal security and law enforcement agencies. The rationale for this very significant increase in the capacity for real time government surveillance of most Australian residents is, of course, to better protect us.
We want governments to do all that is possible and proportionate to protect us and, as part of that, we support effective coordination between states and the federal agencies. However, NSWCCL fears that this development in mass surveillance capacity will have- over time - significant implications that are not currently appreciated for the nature of our society and the robustness of our democracy.
We note that our political leaders in their untroubled endorsement of this- and related- initiatives have blithely dismissed any concerns about the admitted impact on our privacy or other liberties we have traditionally valued.
We could take greater comfort in their assurance that they will simultaneously be 'maintaining robust privacy safeguards'if they showed a greater appreciation of, and concern for the associated risks and the likely implications of this increased capacity for state surveillance on citizens.
At this stage there is little detail as to how this increased surveillance capacity will work and what will be done to protect this massive trove of our personal biometric data from hacking or misuse.
NSWCCL has joined with other civil liberties and privacy organisations to express our deep concern at this new and significant expansion of surveillance capacity. It looks to us like a step too far even in the context of an ongoing terrorist threat.