NSW Council for Civil Liberties notes the review of s93Z of the Crimes Act to be conducted by the Honourable Tom Bathurst KC AC. NSWCCL hopes that the review will involve extensive community consultation and looks forward to being involved in that consultation.
New South Wales has strong “hate speech” laws that already criminalises speech that either intentionally or recklessly, threatens or incites violence against someone based on their race, religion, sexual orientation or other characteristics. These laws should be seen in the context of both Commonwealth and State anti-discrimination laws which provide civil remedies in many circumstances. Resort to criminal law should always be a last resort. The law should not criminalize legitimate free speech.Read more
From Cat Woods: Global advocacy organisation Article 19 released their annual Global Expression Report late last year. The report tracks freedom of expression across 161 countries via 25 indicators, giving each nation a score between 0 and 100.
That score places it in an expression category between “Open” and “In Crisis”. The facts illustrated in the report reveal that more than six billion people globally live with less freedoms than they had 20 years ago.
LSJ spoke to Lydia Shelly, the president of NSW Council for Civil Liberties and director of Shelly Legal about the reasons for, and implications of, the global and national decline in freedom of expression.Read more
Media Statement: NSW Council for Civil Liberties Urges Stricter AI Regulation Following Australian Government's Announcement
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) acknowledges the Australian Government's recent announcement in response to the consultation on responsible AI regulation in Australia. While we appreciate the government's efforts to address the challenges posed by artificial intelligence, we have some concerns about the proposed voluntary guidelines for users, which risks putting Australia behind the pace set by the European Union in AI regulation.Read more
The recent fatal shooting of a 34-year-old man, identified as Alexander Stuart Pinnock, outside a medical centre in Nowra, has sparked calls for improved training in mental health interventions for police officers.
Pinnock reportedly threatened medical staff with a semi-automatic pistol, and after emerging from the clinic after a two-hour standoff, was shot at by multiple police officers. He was treated by paramedics but died at the scene.
Pinnock, had a history of mental health interventions and a minor non-violent criminal record, previously pleading guilty to impersonation of a lawyer. He has featured previously on a news program explaining his schizophrenia was responsible for his impersonation.
This incident has raised questions surrounding the police's handling of individuals with mental health challenges.
In a statement, the Pinnock family said “What happened yesterday demonstrates a failure within the various systems in our community designed to help and support those who struggle with mental illness, This does not excuse his actions and it does not lessen the impact felt by those close to the incident.".Read more
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties is opposed to Senator Malcolm Roberts' proposal for a Royal Commission into COVID-19. We believe that such an inquiry is both unnecessary and potentially harmful, and we urge the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee to carefully consider the implications of this call.Read more
The admission of eight individuals to the hospital due to MDMA overdoses at an electronic music festival in Melbourne has sparked renewed and pressing demands for nationwide pill-testing initiatives.
Of those affected at the festival, seven had to be placed in induced comas and required breathing tubes.
Victorian Health authorities have announced that the overdoses were not caused by a single bad batch, but instead the hot, humid conditions at the festival, paired with physical exertion.
The hospitalisations have intensified the calls for increased pill testing, and for governments to address the complicated issue of festival drug use.Read more
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) expresses our deep concern over the recent police shooting of 34-year-old Alexander Stuart Pinnock in Nowra.Read more
The recent spate of suspected MDMA overdoses at the Hardmission event in Flemington, Victoria, resulting in eight individuals being placed in medically induced comas, has reignited the urgent need for nationwide pill-testing programs.Read more
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (“the Council”) and Muslim Women Australia (“MWA”) have filed a joint submission into the New South Wales Review of Legal Protections against Forced Marriage.
Comments from Lydia Shelly, President, NSW Council for Civil Liberties
The legal responses to forced marriages largely ignores the victim-survivor’s lived experience of forced marriage. If we are to develop a holistic response to forced marriage, then this must be remedied, and the victim-survivor’s experiences must be considered in a meaningful and tangible way.
Forced marriage is often thought of as an “event” and not the process of coercive and controlling behaviours that can be perpetrated by family, friends, community and others who are in positions of trust and authority.
Whilst a legislative response is required as part of a holistic response to forced marriage, more must be done to prevent forced marriages from occurring. It is in this “preventative” space that holds the most promise in addressing the complex factors that increase the risk of a forced marriage occurring.
The reality is that the majority of victim-survivors do not readily identify themselves as being at risk of, or a party to a forced marriage. Any intervention that exists must include community led initiatives and must reflect the cultural and religious norms within these communities.
Government should be focusing efforts on strengthening collaboration and trust between communities, community organisations, agencies and service providers.
We acknowledge the immense harm that those in our governments have caused with respect to social cohesion when they have demonised communities, such as the refugee and Muslim communities. This does little to cultivate trust between communities most at risk of experiencing forced marriages. Legal protections are only effective if there is community cooperation and further training for frontline service providers and agencies.
We are concerned that legislative reform, such as expanding the standing of those who may be able to apply for an Apprehended Domestic Violence Order on behalf of a victim-survivor, will not address the complex factors that result in forced marriages occurring.
Any assistance that is provided to victim-survivors must not be dependent on involvement with law enforcement or the criminal justice system. Currently, the majority of assistance that could be provided to victim-survivors are often too late and are dependent on law enforcement being involved.Read more
CityHub: “Only a partial win”: Supreme Court rules NSW anti-protest laws as constitutionally invalid
Earlier this week, the NSW Supreme Court ruled that NSW anti-protest laws are constitutionally invalid.
These laws were enacted last year in response to a climate protest that caused traffic disruptions, criminalizing activities that cause obstructions, partial closures, or redirections around various major facilities, and carry a maximum penalty of a $22,000 fine, imprisonment for two years, or both.
'Knitting Nannas' Dominique Jacobs and Helen Kvelde challenged these laws, arguing that they did not uphold the implied freedom of political communication in the Commonwealth Constitution.
The court found that these new laws were not justified when protest activity caused people to be redirected or caused a facility to be partially closed. Therefore, those parts of the laws were deemed invalid.
The Guardian: Australian Human Rights Commission to crack down on employers who fail to actively prevent workplace sexual harassment
As of 12 December 2023, the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) will be handed enforcement powers as part of the Respect@Work legislation. The new section 47C of the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (Cth) applies a positive duty to any person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) or ‘employer’..
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Dr Anna Cody, hopes to shift the burden of progress in workplaces by holding employers legally responsible for failing to protect employees. The positive duty requires employers to take ‘reasonable and proportionate’ measures to eliminate sexual harassment, discrimination, and victimisation. This includes unlawful conduct engaged in by themselves, employees, workers and agents, and even extends to third parties such as customers and clients.Read more
On November 8, asylum seekers in immigration detention were released following a High Court ruling deeming indefinite immigration detention unlawful due to the 'NZYQ' case. This ruling resulted in the immediate release of 141 detainees.
Shortly after the court's legal justifications were made public, Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil disclosed the Labor Party's intent to “finalise a tough preventive detention regime before parliament rises.”. The Albanese Government is currently proposing preventive detention laws to re-incarcerate individuals previously released, some of whom have been involved in serious offenses.
The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) has expressed serious concerns with the government seeking to preventively detain refugees who were released in November.
Australian: ANIC spokesman Bilal Rauf ‘appeals’ to NSW Liberals to withhold hate-speech amendment support
Alex Demetriadi: Australia’s peak imam body has urged the NSW opposition to withhold cross-party support for Premier Chris Minns’s plans that the government says will strengthen and “streamline” laws against religion-based violence and incitement given a rise of anti-Semitism since October 7.
However, the group have said they are not alone in sharing “concerns” that the proposals were being “rushed”.
On Monday, NSW Liberal leader Mark Speakman and his shadow front bench met with multi-religion group Faith NSW, where the main point of discussion between Mr Speakman’s team and faith leaders was the government’s proposed amendments to section 93Z of the state crimes act, which would “streamline” the process by dropping the need for police to seek Director of Public Prosecutions approval before tabling charges.Read more
Alex Demetriadi: The actors’ union has backed three cast members of the Sydney Theatre Company’s tentpole production of The Seagull who stood in solidarity with Palestine during the opening night’s encore, saying they’d support the trio if any action was taken.
On Sunday, The Australian revealed how three cast members of The Seagull – the Chekhov classic adapted for the STC’s latest run by playwright Andrew Upton, Cate Blanchett’s husband – wore traditional keffiyeh headdress during Saturday night’s encore in a “stance” of support for the “occupation of the Palestinian people”.
The STC later distanced itself from the stunt, with a spokeswoman saying it was not aware prior to the move and that it apologised for “any distress caused”.Read more
NSWCCL and ACON wrote to the NSW Government to oppose the blanket restriction on the administration of scheduled substances as outlined in the Exposure Draft of the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation.Read more
Priorities 2024-26 for the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) congratulates the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism (the Special Rapporteur) on his appointment and thanks him for the opportunity to make a submission on his mandate priorities for 2024-26, and in particular on which of the 'new issues' identified by him should be a priority.Read more
The Sentencing Council released a consultation paper in September 2023 seeking further submissions on key issues identified in preliminary research and analysis. The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) was grateful for the opportunity to make a submission in response to this consultation paper.
Our submission focussed on offences involving custody of knives and questions raised in relation to items 5 and 6 of the Terms of Reference, namely:
- consider whether offences for which penalty notices are available remain appropriate;
- consider whether the maximum penalties for the offences are appropriate with reference to other jurisdictions.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) recently bestowed Honourary Life Memberships upon four exceptional individuals who have dedicated many decades to the relentless pursuit of civil liberties and human rights for all. This prestigious accolade serves as a testament to their unwavering commitment and invaluable contributions to the cause.Read more
The NSW Supreme Court has struck down part of a suite of tough anti-protest laws rushed through state parliament last year, ruling that criminalising activities that cause partial closures or redirections around ports and train stations was constitutionally invalid.
Climate change protesters Dominique Jacobs and Helen Kvelde, represented by the Environmental Defenders Office, launched a constitutional challenge last year to the new laws, which imposed a maximum penalty of a $22,000 fine, imprisonment for two years, or both.Read more
Parts of harsh anti-protest laws passed in NSW last year have been found to be unconstitutional after a legal challenge by two Knitting Nannas protesters who argued they impermissibly burdened the implied freedom of political communication.
Two Knitting Nannas, Helen Kvelde and Dominique Jacobs, took legal action to defend the right to protest in October 2022, after the NSW Government passed new laws following a series of climate-related demonstrations.Read more