NSWCCL News

NSWCCL opposes harsh law against homeless in Martin Place

NSWCCL PUBLIC STATEMENT

 

Sydney Public Reserves (Public Safety) Bill 2017 (NSW)

The NSWCCL calls for the withdrawal of this extraordinary Bill.  It is unwarranted, unnecessary legislation.  

It is a harsh response in a context which calls for more responsible, compassionate and sustainable remedies to the serious policy failures of Governments which have left so many people homeless in Sydney.

The existing powers that NSW Police have under LEPRA (Part 14) and ) and the  Crown Lands Act (Sections 156, 157)  are more than adequate to remove persons who present any danger or threat to the public or are engaged in any unlawful activity in Martin Place.

Homeless people sleeping in Martin Place- or other public place- are not acting unlawfully.  

This Bill effectively criminalises homelessness.   It is a retrograde step, contrary to the move to abolish the crime of vagrancy and other victimless crimes more than 30 years ago.

Homeless people may be causing some level of inconvenience to the public, but some level of inconvenience may be the cost we have to pay for the major homeless problem we have in Sydney.

 Inconvenience can be managed more compassionately and responsibly than by rushing to force homeless people out of Martin Place when many will, of necessity, occupy other public space in inner Sydney.

NSWCCL urges the Government to abandon this rash Bill and re-engage with the City of Sydney Council and other agencies to find more sustainable solutions.  Homeless people should not be forcibly removed from public spaces until alternative ongoing accommodation is available for them.

The reallocation of the purpose built Sirius building to the current inner city homeless is one obvious part of the longer term solution that could be implemented quickly.

 

NSWCCL Public Statement

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Right to Political Protest

NSW Council for Civil Liberties calls for stronger protection of the right to political protest. The recent media statements by the Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Pru Goward and Tony Abbott concerning the homeless people camping in Martin Place highlight the need to protect our right to political protest.

Protection of civil liberties is weak in Australia. The Constitution contains a weak protection of the right to political protest. In NSW we do not have the protection of a bill of rights.

Peaceful political protest often involves disruption of public spaces. If we view the right to peaceful political protest as worth upholding, the community may need to tolerate some inconvenience.

Public statements by politicians to the effect that the police should be required to dismantle peaceful political protests occurring in public spaces ignore the fact that the right to political protest is a fundamental right in a mature democracy.

Now is the time to revisit the need for a bill of rights – visit Human Rights for NSW

 

 NSWCCL Media Release Right to Political Protest

 

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Submission to the Legal and Constitutional Committee of the Senate concerning the Australian Citizenship Legislation Amendment (Strengthening the Requirements for Australian Citizenship and Other Measures) Bill 2017 - July 2017

The Bill would create a class of permanent residents who are denied recognition as citizens. This cannot be to the benefit of Australian society. The extended powers create a high risk that they will, by error or design, be subject to misuse and the creation of unfairness. No Minister should  have such unfettered powers.

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Non-consensual sharing of intimate images

Civil penalties for non-consensual sharing of intimate images -“revenge porn”

In a recent submission to the Department of Communication & the Arts, NSWCCL made specific recommendations to a proposed Commonwealth government prohibition on non-consensual sharing of intimate images, colloquially referred to as “revenge porn”.  We also addressed the question of appropriate civil penalties to deter, prevent and mitigate harm to victims, by individuals and content hosts, who breach the prohibition.

NSWCCL considers the non-consensual sharing of intimate images to be a privacy issue. It occurs when experiences, deemed private, are distributed without consent to the public, the victim’s family, work mates, employer or friends.  Nonetheless, privacy requires a balance of interests, therefore defences of public interest and consent should be available to the perpetrator.

The prohibition proposed by the government would be modelled on the Enhancing Online Safety for Children Act 2015 (Cth) (EOSC Act).  NSWCCL agrees that many of the provisions in the EOSC Act are suitable to deal with the non-consensual sharing of intimate images.  The EOSC Act establishes the role for a Commissioner to oversee a cooperative social media service scheme. The Commissioner is also authorised to approach the Federal Court for civil penalties, enforceable undertakings and injunctions.  A great benefit to complainants is that once a complaint proceeds, the Commissioner’s office takes over the process for removal of the material. NSWCCL agrees that the Commissioner should have a similar role to deal with non-consensually shared intimate images. 

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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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