Death Penalty

NSWCCL's policy is total opposition to the death penalty under all circumstances and in all countries.

NSWCCL has been advocating on behalf of the abolition of the death penalty in Australia and globally since it began. Now that the death penalty has been abolished in Australia, NSWCCL remains a strong advocate for Australians and others on death row.

On this page you will find...

  1. Information about the death penalty in Australia.
  2. Information about the death penalty in international law.
  3. Information about the death penalty in Europe.
  4. Information about the death penalty in the United States of America.
  5. Information about the current status and history of Australians on Death Row.
  6. Information about the current NSWCCL Policy on the Death Penalty.

  

Latest NSWCCL activity

NSWCCL writes to MLCs re Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019

NSW Council for Civil Liberties has today written to select MLCs to urge them to resist the threats from those who oppose the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019, and to be guided by their conscience.


17 September 2019

Re: Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019

Reports of the high level of aggression and threats currently raging around the conscience vote for the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019 are deeply disturbing.

Conscience votes within our Parliaments have a very special place in that they allow our representatives the rare opportunity to act on their conscience, free of Party constraints. It has been observed, with some justification, that they bring out the best in our politicians.  Sadly this has not been the case for this Bill.

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Review: 2019 NSWCCL Annual Dinner

Thank you to those who joined us and supported this year's NSWCCL Annual Dinner. The room was filled with hundreds of guests; civil libertarians, rights defenders and guardians of democracy.

We were delighted to be joined by Ita Buttrose AO OBE who delivered this year's keynote address. 

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Inaugural Awards for Civil Liberties Journalism 2019

(Photo L to R, Kate Allman, Richard Ackland, Paul Farrell and NSWCCL President Pauline Wright)

The 2019 NSWCCL Annual Dinner (held on September 10th) was marked by the presentation of the Council’s Inaugural Awards for Excellence in Civil Liberties Journalism. Two awards were presented for an article or series of articles, or a radio, television or podcast presentation, promoting civil liberties. One award was for young journalists under the age of 30, and the other an Open award. Criteria for the awards included both the excellence of individual items and, particularly in this inaugural year, the significance of a sustained body of work. The judging panel was drawn from Journalism, Academia, and the Law.

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Farewell to the Hon. Jane Hamilton Mathews AO

Vale the Hon. Jane Hamilton Mathews AO (1940 - 2019)

It is with sadness that we add our farewell to the chorus of voices paying tribute to the Hon. Jane Hamilton Mathews AO, former barrister, judge, life member of the Bar Association, and CCL member, who passed away last Saturday night after an illness.

Jane made an impact on many during her career. Although well-known for her achievements in law, Jane will also be remembered as a music lover, a mentor, a woman of tremendous wit, and someone devoted to meaningful causes.

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Government acts on religious discrimination

Media Statement: 30 August 2019

The Federal Government yesterday released an Exposure Draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill 2019 (and two subsidiary Bills) which would make it unlawful to discriminate against people on the basis of their religious beliefs or activities in areas of public life. The NSWCCL welcomes it being released as an exposure draft to allow community consideration and input before the Bill is finalised.

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NSWCCL urges parliament to pass new abortion reform bill

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties applauds the initiative of Alex Greenwich MP in bringing forward the Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019.  If passed by the NSW Parliament this Bill will  decriminalise abortion in NSW and provide the women of NSW with the right to make their own choices about their reproductive health and options.

NSW is the only state or territory which still treats abortion as a criminal act. To obtain a legal abortion in NSW women have to establish exceptional circumstances – ie. that it is necessary to preserve a woman from serious danger to her life or to her mental or physical health and it is not out of proportion to the danger to be averted.

Having to rely on this limited defence is a deeply flawed and unsatisfactory legal position for both women and medical practitioners and results in many women not being able to access safe abortions.

It is well-beyond time for the NSW Parliament to act in the interests of women in this state. Our current law dates from 1900.

The Greenwich Bill, which is closely modelled on Queensland’s and Victoria’s laws, is clear, balanced and sensible.  The provisions in the Crimes Act relating to abortions will be repealed and common law offences relating to abortion abolished.

It will be legal for medical practitioners to perform a termination on a person who is not more than 22 weeks pregnant. The vast majority of terminations occur before 22 weeks.

For a person who is more than 22 weeks pregnant, the medical practitioner and one other must both consider if the termination ‘should be performed’.  In making this decision they are required to consider all relevant medical circumstances, current and future physical, psychological and social circumstances and professional standards and guidelines.

The Bill respects the rights of medical practitioners with conscientious objection but requires them to refer the person to a practitioner who, in their belief, does not have a conscientious objection.

This Bill will bring much needed certainty to NSW women and medical practitioners and make it easier and safer for women choosing to have a termination of pregnancy.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties expresses its appreciation to the Parliamentarians who have come together to progress this Bill: Trevor Khan (National Party), Penny Sharpe (Deputy Leader ALP) and Jo Haylen (ALP)  and to the Health Minister Brad Hazzard who has given his public support to the Bill.

We urge the NSW Parliament to do the right thing by the women of NSW and pass this Bill.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has campaigned for this reform for over 50 years. Over the last two years we have been proud participants in the WEL Round Table – and more recently the Pro- Choice Alliance – of 60 organisations dedicated to persuading the NSW Parliament that they must act on behalf of the women of NSW and reform our archaic and cruel abortion laws.

 

Draft Reproductive Health Care Reform Bill 2019


Australia's mass data retention regime under review

The PJCIS is reviewing the legislation that established the excessive mandatory data retention regime in 2015.

This review is happening at a timely moment as the Australian community ponders the implications of the extraordinary AFP raids on the ABC and a News Limited journalist a few weeks ago. We were not surprised at the AFP raids on the ABC and other journalists. These intimidatory raids are an inevitable consequence of  Australia's large expanding suite of surveillance and secrecy laws.

The mass  data collection regime which is retained to allow access by intelligence and police officers is an important element of these laws and in itself poses a clear and major threat to journalists and whistle-blowers.

Not surprisingly it was hugely controversial legislation and generated widespread, vehement opposition from civil liberties/human rights groups, journalists and media organisations, privacy and IT groups and many others.

NSWCCL joined with other councils for civil liberties to oppose the Bill. We put in a Joint CCLs submission to the PJCIS and when  it recommended an amended version of the Bill be passed by Parliament, we wrote to all Senators – as the last chance forum -  urging them to abandon this indiscriminate  and excessive collection of all Australian residents data and replace it with a less intrusive regime which targets only suspects.

While we failed to block the passage of the legislation, some concessions were achieved – including a ‘fix’ to protect journalists through a special Journalist Information Warrant and a review of the regime after three years.  This is the review year.

Joint CCLs current position  

We maintain our strong opposition to the legislation as disproportionate and incompatible with a healthy democracy. In our new submission we have again argued it should be repealed or significantly amended.

We are hopeful that some improvements to the legislation will result from this review, especially  much needed safeguards - such as warrant approval for access to the retained telecommunications data. It is not likely that the PJCIS will recommend, or the Government approve repeal of the legislation.

The CCLs argue that the mandatory data retention regime is but one element of many excessive provisions in Australia’s uniquely large body of national security and counter-terrorism legislation. It is crucial for there to be a  review of the cumulative chilling and intimidatory impact of the Government's expanded surveillance powers and secrecy offences relating to Government activity.  

Next steps

In reaction to public and media outrage the Government has now established a separate inquiry into the ‘impact of the exercise of law enforcement and intelligence powers on the freedom of the press’ to be conducted by the PJCIS.

We will be making a submission to this review – and arguing that that the PJCIS is not the appropriate Committee to conduct this inquiry as it has supported all the surveillance and secrecy legislation causing the problem.

 

 CCLs submission to PJCIS data retention regime 2019 


Awards for Excellence in Civil Liberties Journalism

New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties is proud to announce two new awards for excellence in civil liberties journalism for an article or series of articles, or a radio, television or podcast presentation, promoting civil liberties. The two awards will be:

  • for young journalists under the age of 30 on 2 August, 2019, and
  • in the open category.
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Regulation of poppers has discriminatory effect on gay community

28 June 2019

Poppers, also known as amyl nitrite, are inhalants. According to the Alcohol and Drug Foundation, they cause a high for about 2-3 minutes. They are also used to “enhance sexual experience”. Specifically, they are muscle relaxants, commonly used by gay men to facilitate anal sex. One study found that poppers were used among gay and bisexual men at a rate of 32 per cent in the last six months. Another study found that two thirds of gay and bisexual men had used it in their lifetimes.

In September last year, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), responsible for regulating drugs and medicine, released an interim report. The report proposed criminalising poppers, classifying alkyl nitrites as Schedule 9 under the Poisons Standard. This would make them the same sort of drug as heroin and cannabis.  Possession of poppers could mean 12 months in jail, or a fine of $2200 under this proposal.

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NSW Council for Civil Liberties condemns unjust detention of innocent people, urges return to 2013 bail law reforms

17 June 2019

Statistics released by the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics (BOCSAR) have shown a significant increase since 2014 in the number of people refused bail, and then later found innocent. There has been an increase of 30 per cent in people denied bail, held in prison, and then later being acquitted.  In 2018, this meant 204 people, including 21 children.

Since 2014, there has been a significant increase in the number of prisoners held on remand, from a quarter of prisoners in 2012, to a third in 2018. Some adults had to wait over 500 days. The children had to wait an average of 124 days last year.

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