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Sydney Criminal Lawyers: First Nations Prison Rate Climbs, Despite Drop in Overall Inmate Numbers

The NSW Bureau of Crimes Statistics and Research (BOCSAR) just released its state custody figures for June 2022, which indicate that inmate numbers have continued on with their downward spiral that commenced at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mid-year, there were 12,336 adult prisoners in the NSW correctional system, whilst prior to the onset of the coronavirus, in June 2019, there were 13,403 people inside this state’s prisons, marking a drop of over 1,000 prisoners.

But, in stark contrast, the number of First Nations inmates has continued to rise. Since March, an additional 117 adult Aboriginal people had been incarcerated in state gaols. This led to 3,581 First Nations adults inside in June, as compared with 3,474 back in mid-2019.

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Review of Bullying, Sexual Harassment and Sexual Misconduct in NSW Parliamentary Workplaces out today

The review, conducted by former sex discrimination commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, has been released today and found that bullying is a significant issue across Parliamentary workplaces in NSW.  Some offices are described as “well-known hotspots”, characterised by high rates of staff turnover related to harmful behaviours.

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Aboriginal teen’s death in prison would likely have been prevented if he’d seen a cardiologist, WA coroner finds.

An Aboriginal teenager who died in prison from complications due to rheumatic heart disease would not have died if he had seen a specialist, a Western Australian coroner has found.

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Sydney Criminal Lawyers: Big Australian Retailers Sprung Collecting Customer’s Faceprints

Sydney Criminal Lawyer's Paul Gregoire unpacks the implications of Peter Dutton's proposed nationwide facial recognition system. 

This system, known as the Capability, which would link up all federal and state citizen photo identification databases, so law enforcement could identify individuals in CCTV images in real time.

Dutton’s legislation in this regard was never voted through parliament. And various appraisals of the technology have found it is hopelessly flawed, especially when it comes to misidentifying people of colour and women. In fact, UK police found it misidentified subjects 95 percent of the time.

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Submission: Review of aspects of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988

NSWCCL made a submission to the NSW's Committee on the Independent Commission Against Corruption regarding the Review of aspects of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act 1988.

The risk of corruption is deeply concerning because, if not effectively checked, it threatens our democratic values and processes – including the rights and liberties of free and equal persons. This is why we support a strong and effective ICAC, appropriately constrained by safeguards for individual liberties and rights that are compatible with operational effectiveness.

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ABC: Blockade Australia climate activist must let police access phone

NSW police are abusing their powers in imposing bail conditions on peaceful protestors that in effect, shut down political communication and freedom of speech.

NSWCCL President, Josh Pallas spoke with ABC’s Ariel Bogle about this extreme and unwarranted use of the Bail Act. "It is meant to stop people from not appearing in court, from committing other serious offences, or perceived danger to the community, or interfering with witnesses," he said of bail law. "They are peacefully protesting. Where is the threat to security?"

For more information, read the full article.

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Freedom of Speech Essay for the Law Society Journal

NSWCCL member, Josh Krook recently published an essay for the Law Society Journal regarding freedom of speech in Australia.

The article focusses on the Comcare v Banerji case which has allowed the government to make statutes that silence individuals and groups, leading to a range of proposed legislation that poses a severe risk to the future of our democracy.

Without a proper right to free speech, Australians risk a new era of government censorship and silencing.

For more information, read the full article

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NSWCCL: Bail conditions are being weaponised - Where will it end?

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has been advocating for the rights of protestors since 1963 and today we are living in some of the darkest times our members have seen.

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Move to restore territory rights in the first fortnight of the 47th Parliament

Returning MPs for the federal electorates of Canberra, Alicia Payne, and Solomon, Luke Gosling, will stand up for Territory rights in the 47th federal parliament.  Ms Payne has confirmed that the new Labor government will allow the parliament to debate restoring territory rights in the upcoming first sitting fortnight.

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Australia slides down on global list of aid transparency rankings

The latest Aid Transparency Index has revealed that the transparency around Australia’s aid funds remains on the decline.

“This is a worrying trend, as it is vital that there is transparency around where aid money is spent,” said Marc Purcell, CEO of the Australian Council for International Development.

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SMH: Experts criticise NSW police efforts to ‘censor’ Australian rappers

Music industry figures and legal experts have criticised a proposal floated by NSW Police that would effectively censor certain forms of hip-hop music in Australia.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph on Monday, NSW Police acting assistant commissioner Jason Weinstein suggested police would contact streaming platforms and ask them to remove music police believe incites violence or criminal activity.

NSW Council of Civil Liberties president Josh Pallas said police in the UK have been “quite effective” in employing take-down requests aimed at drill rappers, and such a move “has the capacity to be absolutely shocking”.

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The Daily Telegraph: Calls for Royal Commission and Federal ICAC to lift lid on ‘secrecy’

Josh Pallas, President NSWCCL adds his voice to calls for the urgent establishment of a federal ICAC with power to investigate law enforcement officials in the wake of allegations about the AFP's handling of claims two alleged mafia assassins were behind the murder of former Assistant Commissioner Colin Winchester.

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Green Left: Solidarity shown to imprisoned Blockade Australia activists

More than fifty people braved downpours on July 11 to stand with Tim Cumins, father of imprisoned environmentalist Max Cumins, who called for his son and activist Tim Neville to be released from Silverwater jail.

Blockade Australia activists Max and Tim were sent to Silverwater jail after police raided their camp in Colo in June.

President of the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties, Josh Pallas spoke at the event, saying that the purpose of the Bail Act is “to ensure that people attend court. It should not be used for the purpose of segregating people who otherwise show no risk of failing to attend court from participating in society”.

For more information, read the full article

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Northern Beaches Review: Amnesty criticises NSW protest laws

Amnesty International has criticised new anti-protest legislation in NSW, saying it has a "chilling effect on the freedom of assembly".

It says the severe bail conditions given to activists who were arrested during last week's climate protests show the laws are putting the right to protest under threat.

"The Bail Act was intended to ensure people attend court and should not be used to segregate people," NSW Council for Civil Liberties president Josh Pallas said.

"The right to protest is a vital ingredient in a healthy, vibrant democracy," he said.

"Peaceful protesters should not be met with forceful responses and periods of incarceration."

For more information, read the full article.

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NSWCCL Statement on Bernard Collaery

Yesterday Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus ordered for the cessation of the prosecution of Bernard Collaery after last week agreeing that he was giving the matter “serious consideration” during an interview on ABC’s The Law Report.

NSW Council for Civil Liberties President, Josh Pallas said that NSWCCL has always maintained that Bernard Collaery should never have been prosecuted. “The Australian national security laws used to prosecute Bernard Collaery and Witness K are some of the most oppressive national security laws in the world.”

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ABC Radio National - The Law Report featuring Mark Dreyfus

Last week on the Law Report, Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus discussed his hopes with Kristina Kukolja that the incoming Labor government could restore public confidence in our system of government.  In a wide-ranging interview Mr Dreyfus outlined his legislative priorities including his commitment to a federal anti-corruption commission, review of whistle-blower legislation and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), media freedoms and the Privacy Act.

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Junkee: New South Wales’ Anti-Protest Laws Are Deeply Problematic

Climate action activists have made headlines again this week as multiple protests organised by Blockade Australia have caused disruption across Sydney.

As is to be expected, the protests have been met with a high police presence — with allegations of cops using excessive force and threats of fines and jail time for those involved.

These new anti-protest laws have been repeatedly criticised by the Greens — who have accused the government of only implementing the legislation to target climate activists.

The policy has also been slammed by the Aboriginal Legal Service, NSW Council for Civil Liberties, the Human Rights Law Centre and the Environmental Defenders Office.

For more information, read the full article

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Choice Report on the use of facial recognition technology in stores.

Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group Choice has revealed that major retailers may be in breach of privacy laws using facial recognition technology in their stores. The Good Guys, Kmart, and Bunnings have been condemned by the group for not providing enough transparency about how the data they collect from their customers is used.

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Sydney Criminal Lawyers: The Sluggish Demise of Drug Prohibition Is Gaining Momentum

Right before the pandemic shut down shifted the focus of concern, NSW drug policy was under scrutiny with the then Berejiklian government baulking at pill testing trials to address drug-related deaths at events and rather attempting to shut down the festival industry as a response.

So, it’s against this backdrop that Drug Policy Australia held the Is It Time to Legalise Drugs? forum in Sydney, with a lineup of speakers representing some of the heavyweights in the drug law reform space, including Fair Treatment and Harm Reduction Australia, who came together to discuss the long recognised need to end a century of drug prohibition.

The Fair Treatment decriminalisation campaign was launched in 2018, with a long list of civil society groups in support of it, including the NSW Bar Association and NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

For more information, read the full article

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Letter: Intervention on behalf of Australian citizen Julian Assange

NSWCCL recently wrote to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to reiterate our call for the Australian Government to exert its diplomatic influence on both the United Kingdom and the United States to end the unjust prosecution of Julian Assange and to bring him home.

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