NSWCCL in the media

Federal Government set to introduce new terror laws

The Federal Government is set to introduce tough new anti-terror laws into Parliament.The legislation will include a proposal to lower the age at which a control order can be applied from 16 to 14. The New South Wales Government also wants changes that will allow terror suspects to be held for up to 28 days without charge.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties President says such laws would be draconian and ultimately counter-productive.

"The last thing we need is more laws. Australia has legislated more than any other country in response to terrorism and the legislation has been utterly counterproductive. What more extreme legislation does is alienate sections of the community. The proposed laws are undoubtedly going to be in breach of human rights standards."

Article/Radio Broadcast: Federal Government set to introduce new terror laws

Source: ABC AM Radio

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Tougher terror laws 'another knee-jerk reaction'

Law changes requested by the New South Wales Government and agreed to by Senator Brandis could see young people closely monitored under potential laws aiming to lower the age of control orders from 16 to 14. The NSW Government also wants the legal time limits on holding suspects changed so that they could be held for up to four days (in place of four hours), with a court able to extend the detention period to 28 days (in place of 8 days).

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties said existing laws were adequate and the proposed changes would be excessive.

"The proposed laws are undoubtedly going to be in breach of human rights standards," council president Stephen Blanks said, "The idea of detaining 14-year-old children for questioning without charge, and secretly for long periods of time, should be obviously unacceptable to the whole community."

Article:George Brandis flags tougher controls on teenage terror suspects as NSW pushes for tougher laws

Video: Tougher terror laws 'another knee jerk reaction'

Source: ABC News

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Concerns AFP detaining teenage terror suspect without charge

A teenager arrested during counter-terror raids in Sydney on Wednesday morning is still being held without being charged. Yesterday a court granted the Australian Federal Police (AFP) an additional 100 hours to question the 18-year-old male. Lawyers say they have grave concerns about allowing detention without charges, saying it amounts to a form of torture. 

Similar laws have been enacted before, most notably with the example of a Queensland doctor, Mohammad Haneef, being detained in July 2007 for 12 days on suspicion of involvement in a terror attack on Glasgow airport.

The case against Dr Haneef ultimately fell apart, and he later won significant compensation from the Australian Government.The president of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, says the Haneef case exposed deep flaws in this legal provision.


"These are the types of laws that bring the authorities into disrepute and bring the law into disrepute. It's the kind of law which is so unfair that the community loses respect for the authorities when these kinds of detention powers are exercised and you only have to look at the Haneef case how that occurs."

Radio broadcast/transcript Concerns AFP detaining teenage terror suspect without charge

Source: ABC AM Radio

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Police arrest teen en route to school

Police have charged a student after he was arrested on his way to Arthur Phillip High School - the same school attended by the 15-year-old who shot a man dead at Parramatta's police headquarters last week. At around 8.30am (Oct 6th), police approached the teenage boy about alleged posts on social media - which appeared to celebrate the shooting death of New South Wales police employee Curtis Cheng.

During the interaction, police allege the teenager threatened and intimidated police. But there have been questions about the circumstances of the arrest.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Stephen Blanks says the actions were not appropriate and could be damaging to community relations.

"For all that's been said over the last few days about a new approach by the authorities towards the Muslim community, this incident shows that there is still some way to go before that community. Indeed the whole community is treated by police with the respect that the community is due," he said.

Mr Blanks says it will be interesting to see what the boy recorded of the police moments before his arrest.

"Police know that they don't have the right to access schools without going through the Department of Education's processes. The principal has to be notified and has to approve police being on school premises; parents have to be notified and given an opportunity to attend."

Article: Police charge teen from same school as Parramatta shooter

Source: SBS News

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Tasers now used by police to subdue more mentally ill people than drunks

For years alcohol was the main reason for police to draw their Tasers, but police use of the electric weapon against ­violent and aggressive drunks now ranks second behind mentally ill people which make up 36 per cent of all Taser use by police. 

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has called on NSW Police to improve training and find less confrontational ways to deal with mentally ill people.

“We really need to ask why police are using Tasers against people who are mentally ill,” Stephen Blanks, the organisation’s president, said.

“Surely there must be more appropriate ways to deal with noncompliant people who are suffering an episode.”

Article: Tasers now used by police to subdue more mentally ill people than drunks 

Source: The Daily Telegraph

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Civil libertarians question police cameras

The rollout of 248 video cameras worn on police officers' uniforms across Sydney's eastern beaches started on Thursday and questions are being raised about their impact on the rights of individuals.

Council for Civil Liberties NSW president Stephen Blanks said there would be cause for suspicion in cases where an officer had a camera but did not use it.

"You should have a rule that where police have got a body camera and are giving evidence in court, they shouldn't be allowed to give evidence unless the body camera is on," he told AAP.

"The possibility that police are not being completely truthful about the evidence is too high."

Mr Blanks said instances where police misrepresented or misunderstood members of the public could be brought to light through video evidence.

"I think the public will have more confidence in police if they know that police are behaving in a thoroughly accountable way because they're being recorded," he said.

Mr Blanks suggested the camera be on at all times, saying having to manually turn it on and off meant officers could be selective about what to film.

Article: Civil Libertarians question police cameras OR Civil libertarians question police cameras 

Source: Sky news OR Channel 9 News

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NSW Police to rollout random drug testing statewide

Of the 36,000 drug tests police have administered to NSW drivers in 2015, Insp Blair said almost 12 percent returned positive readings; while an operation in the Shoalhaven, on the NSW south coast, over the weekend netted 27 drug-affected drivers. In August 2014, NSW Roads Minister Duncan Gay said 11 percent of fatalities on NSW roads involved motorists with illicit drugs in their system.

Inspector Steve Blair, commander of the random drug testing unit, would not confirm exactly how many drug testing units would operate in NSW, but said by 2017 there would be "quite a large number out there" that are "portable and can radiate through the state."

Police claim drug driving offences are growing at an alarming rate, but the NSW Council for Civil Liberties does not support the further rollout of roadside drug testing technology. Stephen Blanks, president of the NSWCCL, said the strict liability offence was unfair to drivers.

"The testing only discloses prior drug usage, which may have no adverse impairment of driving ability. Cannabis can hang around in your system for days, maybe even a few weeks, but not have any impact on your ability to drive," he said.

"It is illegal to possess those drugs, but it's never been illegal to take them. It's a small point, but it's worth taking in mind."

Blanks said the absence of any threshold for drug use -- such as the 0.05 BAC for alcohol -- was a major reservation he held about drug testing.

"With alcohol, there is a threshold below which it is recognised that usage doesn't impair ability to drive. With drug tests, there is absolute zero tolerance," he said.

"The problem of drug driving are issues probably not best dealt with through random testing. Perhaps it should be other ways, like driver education or better laws around drug usage or possession. Society would get a better outcome if we took a health and harm minimisation approach, rather than a law enforcement approach."

Article: NSW Police To Rollout Random Drug Testing Statewide

Source: The Huffington Post Australia

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Vodaphone admits employee illegally accessed journalist's phone records

Telco giant Vodafone Hutchison Australia has admitted that an employee illegally accessed the mobile phone records of Fairfax Media investigative journalist Natalie O'Brien.

Vodaphone head of fraud COlin Yates admitted in an email from 2012, "If the issue relating to breaching the reporter's privacy by searching her private call records and text messages gets into the public domain, this could have serious consequences given it is a breach of the Australian Telecommunications Act."

NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Stephen Blanks called on the government to investigate the incident as a matter of priority.

"What's extraordinary is that the regulatory system is inefficient to find out about this blatant breach of law and one has to bear in mind that Vodafone's business is entirely dependent on a government license," Mr Blanks said. "It's very disturbing that one telecommunications carrier thinks nothing of breaching the privacy of its customers in order to find out information of commercial advantage to it."

Article: Vodafone admits employee accessed Fairfax journalist Natalie O'Brien's mobile phone records

Source: The Sydney Morning Herald

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PM seeks to smooth way for refugees

The government's decision to take an additional 12,000 women, children and families, mostly from United Nations camps in Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, has generally been well received...But a diverse group of refugee advocates, and Christian and Muslim representatives, have condemned suggestions Australia would favour members of persecuted minority groups, especially Christians.

Representatives of the Refugee Action Coalition, the NSW Council of Civil Liberties and the Lebanese Muslim Association issued a joint statement calling on the government "to be genuine with a humanitarian intention":

"In light of recent media reports regarding the discriminatory nature of the refugee intake, we are obliged to condemn in the strongest of terms the suggestion that priority should be given to people of one faith over another."

Article: PM seeks to smooth way for refugees OR PM seeks to smooth way for refugees

 

Source(s): Channel 7 and Channel 9 News

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NSW community groups rally for refugees

Religious and community groups will join with councillors near Sydney's Lakemba mosque calling for a more constructive approach to the refugee crisis. On Wednesday the federal government announced Australia would increase its refugee and humanitarian intake by 12,000 permanent places and provide more than $40 million for United Nations efforts to deal with the Syrian crisis.

The Lebanese Muslim Association, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, the Refugee Action Coalition several church groups and Muslim media advocates are expected to meet near Lakemba mosque on Thursday afternoon and call for the government to welcome all refugees, regardless of religion.

Article: NSW community groups rally for refugees

Source: Channel 9 News

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