NSWCCL in the media

Hornsby Westfield shooting

One of the state’s top cops has defended the two police officers who shot at a knife-wielding man at Hornsby Westfield yesterday but injured three innocent shoppers in the process.

Police have launched a critical incident investigation into the shooting. One of the issues to be investigated will be why a Taser or other options available were not used by the officers.

Assistant Commissioner Denis Clifford said the male and female officers were in a life and death situation when psychiatric patient Jerry Sourian ran at them armed with a large carving knife. He said Sourian was known to police.

Stephen Blanks, the president of the NSW Council of Civil ­Liberties, said an independent ­review was crucial.

“Serious incidents like this where members of the public are injured as a result of the use of police guns require the most thorough investigation because public confidence depends upon knowing they did not do the wrong thing,” Mr Blanks said.

“The public needs to know that police have been properly trained in dealing with people with mental health issues and that they use their guns as a last resort when lives are threatened.”

Mr Clifford said the review would be independent.

Article(s): Hornsby Westfield shooting: Police defend their tactics amid questions about other options

Source(s): The Daily Telegraph; Courier Mail; Perth Now

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President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties speaks up for Sea Eagles' "presumption of innocence" in match fixing allegations

NSW Police have been investigating claims of match fixing in the NRL, and recent reports have focused on the Sea Eagles. While Police Deputy Commissioner Catherine Byrne said yesterday that the match fixing investigation was “legitimate and authentic”, NSW Council for Civil Liberties president , Stephen Blanks,  expressed concern for the way in which the investigation is being handled, noting that premature public reporting of the investigation "doesn’t make clear that the people they are investigating are entitled to a presumption of innocence."

"The public should be reminded that whenever police announce investigations that the people they are investigating are innocent until proven guilty and are entitled to their day in court," Blanks said, "“The police stories often operate as a smear and that is why they should refrain from saying too much, especially when investigations are at an early stage.”

See below link for the full story. 

Article: President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties speaks up for Sea Eagles in match fixing allegations

Source: The Daily Telegraph

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If You Thought NSW Had Enough Police Laws, Here’s Four New Ones

Vice News has written extensively on the encroachment of police powers on the civil liberties of Australians, especially here in NSW. 

In this piece, they summarize the recent cascade of laws that expand police powers while simultaneously restraining dissent and protest. NSW Council of Civil Liberties President, Stephen Blanks, sat down to talk with Vice about some of these new laws:

For the president of the NSW Council of Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, the main concern is that these directives can reoccur every week for the rest of an individual's life. "I have little doubt these powers will be used to ban people from attending certain Muslim places of worship," he said, adding that it's even possible that this was one such motive behind the law.

Blanks also has grave concerns for the Investigative Detention Bill introduced on the same day. It will allow for the detention of a suspect "to prevent an imminent threat of terrorism" for up to two weeks without charge. He pointed out that a major difference with anti-terror powers passed in 2004 is that police can now question a suspect for up to 16 hours a day, and suspects can be as young as 14 years old.

"What's going to happen is that teenagers are going to be detained and questioned about other family members and friends," Blanks said, stressing that legislation such as this will do nothing for relations with the Islamic community.

A series of anti-protest laws were also passed mid-March, increasing police powers to prevent public protest, particularly against coal seam gas. The laws include a maximum penalty of seven years for hindering the operation of a mine, and for actions like locking onto equipment. "This is simply a law which is prioritising private commercial interests over the public interest in being able to have a fair opportunity to engage in protest," Blanks told VICE.

Article: If You Thought NSW Had Enough Shitty Police Laws, Here’s Four New Ones

Source: Vice News

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“NSW on track for Guantanamo style laws”: Greens MP

New anti-terror laws introduce by the state government represent the “most serious breach of human rights proposed yet”, according to a Greens MP.

“These laws will see people imprisoned and interrogated based on secret hearsay evidence and unverified police reports in an unprecedented expansion of police powers,” says Greens’ Justice Spokesperson David Shoebridge.

Mr Shoebridge says the laws represent an overreach and beyond existing laws, which allow police to detain someone to prevent an immediate threat to the public.

Civil liberties campaigners have also reacted swiftly to criticise the law.

Stephen Banks, president of The NSW Council for Civil Liberties president told ABC News Online the laws would isolate young Australians.

“The police, when they deprive individuals of their liberty, do so under the supervision of an independent arm of government – that is the judiciary,” he said.”

“That is such a fundamental aspect of our free society… and here we are throwing it away.”

The introduction of the laws follow an in-principle agreement last month at the Council of Australian Governments meeting that proposed the NSW model would become to basis of a nationally consistent model.

Article: “NSW on track for Guantanamo style laws”: Greens MP

Source: Alt Media

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'Invasion of privacy': Household credit ratings made public online

New database, Georisk, has published credit ratings on Australian households, aimed to measure an individual’s financial risk, by putting consumers in a range from one to ten.

The ratings are publicly available to anyone who wants to search it on a computer. It’s designed to help credit marketers and collection agencies, however as it is public it can be used by anyone. Not everyone was pleased to know their information was publicly visible online. 

Stephen Blanks of NSW Council for Civil Liberties said he felt he thought most would consider it an invasion of privacy.

“I think most people are going to feel their privacy is being grossly invaded by public disclosure of this information for anyone who wants to look at it for any purpose whatsoever,” he said.

Article/Video: 'Invasion of privacy': Household credit ratings made public online

Source: Channel 7 News

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NSW terror laws 'recipe for police abuse'

The New South Wales Opposition has indicated it is likely to vote in favour of new counter-terrorism laws the State Government has introduced to Parliament, but said it needs to look at the fine print first. Under the legislation, NSW Police will be able to detain and question terrorism suspects as young as 14 without charge for up to two weeks.

Key points of new laws:

  • Suspect can be held for a maximum of 14 days
  • A judge can extend detention period by seven days at a time
  • The powers will be used as the basis for a national model

"What's come back today, on the face of it, seems to be a more balanced and reasonable proposition, that does protect the community while providing the necessary balances that we need in our democracy," said Luke Foley, Labor Leader of NSW. 

However, many are opposed to these new draconian 'anti-terror' laws.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties president, Stephen Banks, said the proposed laws will isolate communities alongside vulnerable, young Australians who instead need support and they will be "resented".

"It will obviously be seen as unfair and alienating by the very people that we need to bring into the system in order to prevent terrorism," he said.

"They can either decide that Australia is against them and they want to fight against our community, or they can be brought into the community and be given every encouragement and incentive to join with the rest of the community.

Mr Blanks said the proposed shift to allow holding periods to be extended by seven days at a time, instead of being subject to a judge's approval every 48 hours, is "contrary to the interests of the community".

"The police, when they deprive individuals of their liberty, do so under the supervision of an independent arm of government - that is the judiciary," he said.

"That is such a fundamental aspect of our free society... and here we are throwing it away."

 

Article: NSW terror laws to allow police to question, detain suspects for 14 days without charge

Source: ABC News Online

 

Article: NSW terror laws 'recipe for police abuse'

Source: Channel 9 News

 

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Kingscliff cyclist slapped with fine for law that hasn’t come into effect

A CYCLIST has criticised New South Wales police for being heavy handed after an officer threatened to fine her under a law that doesn’t come into effect until next year.

Kingscliff local Heather Stewardson was riding along the shared bike and walking track near Wommin Bay Road on Monday when she was pulled over by a NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Command.

The real estate agent, who wasn’t wearing a helmet, was asked to produce identification and claims the officer told her she would be fined for two offences.

Cyclists are required under NSW law to wear a helmet and to carry ID. However, fines for the ID offence don’t come into effect until March next year. The fine for not wearing a helmet rose this year from $71 to $319, an increase Ms Stewardson said could significantly affect the community atmosphere in the town.

She said she hadn’t been stopped for riding without a helmet for a decade.

New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties President Stephen Blanks said the community expected police to focus on more serious offences.

“There maybe good reason for encouraging cyclists to wear helmets but when police are imposing very large fines on people who don’t wear fines they are simply creating enemies in the community,” he said.

Article: Kingscliff cyclist slapped with fine for law that hasn’t come into effect

Source: Gold Coast Bulletin

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Concerns for heritage, the law, as WestConnex protests escalate

Two protesters have been arrested in Haberfield while staging an occupation of a house slated for demolition as part of the WestConnex project. 

As the WestConnex protests continue, the government has switched tactics to remove protesters by appealing to the revitalized Inclosed Land Act (1901), building a cage around protesters to "inclose" them and claiming that if they do not leave the area, they would be subject to arrests and fines.

Stephen Blanks from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties told City Hub that the use of the act raised an interesting question.

“There would appear to be a potential interesting legal question, about whether or not a charge under the enclosed lands act can be brought in circumstances where a fence was erected around the protestors was to enclose the protestors, and was not there for any purpose of enclosing land.”

The NSWCCL was vehemently opposed to recent amendments in the NSW parliament that bolstered the Inclosed Land Act. 

Article: Concerns for heritage, the law, as WestConnex protests escalate

Source: Alt Media

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Anti-protest laws ‘draconian’ and ‘oppressive’

Emotions have been running high following the passing of laws in NSW which will see political protesters fighting against the coal seam gas industry, even on their own properties, face large fines and up to seven years in jail.

Hundreds of people demonstrated outside NSW Parliament last week against the harshness of the new laws, which were specifically designed to quell protests against the actions of mining and coal seam gas companies. 

Critics say the laws achieve little more than restricting free speech.

President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties Stephen Blanks told The New Daily: “There are reasons to regard Australia as a police state now. There are so many draconian powers that police have. It is completely oppressive. What is particularly concerning is that the NSW laws criminalise intent. If police form a view that you intend to do something, even if you have done no act towards illegal activity, police can charge you and the penalties are draconian.”

Article: Anti-protest laws ‘draconian’ and ‘oppressive’

Source: The New Daily

 

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Removal of Rights in NSW, An Exclusive Interview with Stephen Blanks

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has been at the forefront of the Australian civil rights movement since 1963. Over the last 50 years, they’ve been tireless in their fight against censorship, abuse of authority, and injustice within the legal system. In 2010, the group played a pivotal role in passing legislation which banned the re-introduction of capital punishment across Australia.

It was an unexpected defamation threat, addressed to one of his clients, that led Stephen Blanks, the group’s current president, to cross paths with the group. His client, an author, was being pursued by a Government department over allegations he had made in a recent book.

“I had a eureka moment and thought of the Council for Civil Liberties,” he said. Days later, the threat was withdrawn: “It was an absolutely stunning victory. From that moment on I was hooked on the idea of being able to achieve outcomes through ways other than straight law.”

Mr Blanks sat down with Sydney Criminal Lawyers earlier this week, to discuss civil liberties, lockouts and the Government’s new anti-protest laws.

Read full article below

Article: Removal of Rights in NSW: An Exclusive Interview

Source: Sydney Criminal Lawyers Blog

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