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

Commonwealth Ombudsman: Only nine of nearly 2000 accesses to LBS by ACT Policing were properly authorised

MEDIA RELEASE

NSWCCL is gravely concerned by a recent Report1 from the Commonwealth Ombudsman, which identified that many of the authorisations made by ACT Policing for access to telecommunications data between 13 October 2015 and 2019 were not properly authorised. Of the 1,713 individual accesses to location-based services (LBS) by ACT Policing for that period, only nine were fully compliant with the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979 (TIA Act).

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Legal challenge to travel bans

Statement from President of NSW Council for Civil Liberties on Legal Challenges to Travel Bans


NSW Council for Civil Liberties welcomes the significant separate legal challenges commenced today to the travel bans.

Both the harsh criminal penalties facing returning Australians and the authoritarian exit bans are causing great distress for tens of thousands of people.

The right of Australians to return to Australia is basic, as recognised in international law, and the right of an individual to leave a country, does not need to be infringed to achieve the protection of the Australian community.

Leaving Australian citizens stranded in a country whose hospital system is overwhelmed by COVID-19 exposes them to a deadly disease and is unconscionable.

Our Government should not be preventing Australians from leaving our shores and should not be imprisoning Australian citizens for returning home.

Instead, procedures can and should be put in place to enable people who are fully vaccinated to travel abroad and to be placed in effective quarantine upon their return. If hotel quarantine is ineffective, then it is time for the Government to provide purpose-built facilities.

Pauline Wright is the President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

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India Travel Bans Unconscionable and Inhumane

PUBLIC STATEMENT BY PAULINE WRIGHT

 

The federal Government’s move to criminalise Australians travelling home from India, including massive fines and penalties of up to 5 years’ imprisonment is an extraordinary move and likely to infringe international human rights law. This will abandon Australian citizens to their fate in an utterly overburdened health care system in India. It is inhumane and unconscionable.

It is certainly not the only suitable way of dealing with the threat to public health. A less restrictive and intrusive way of protecting Australians would be to improve quarantine systems instead of criminalising our citizens who are doing nothing more than wishing to come home.

The Government’s move also looks discriminatory. While there can be no denying that the situation in India is critical, no such measures were taken for Australians returning from the United States, the United Kingdom or Europe during the height of their dire pandemic crises.

This action and Australia’s restrictive travel bans underscore the urgency of a federal charter of rights to better protect human rights and freedoms in Australia. Australia is unique in the western world for lacking federal legislative or constitutional human rights protections. So, when an extreme measure of this kind comes along, there are few legal grounds to contest it.

The travel bans imposed over a year ago have caused immense suffering. People requesting exemptions to travel in both directions are being rejected with boilerplate responses without reasons or recourse, and decision-making appears to be arbitrary with some people being rejected several times then approved on subsequent attempts, while others face little if any difficulty. There is a Facebook group of people sharing travel exemption stories that has over 34,000 members, many heart-breaking.

What is most galling is the ease with which rich and well-connected people seem to come and go as they please while ordinary people who have endured separation from loved ones, are denied the right to be with dying parents or with children, and with no hope in sight.

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was allowed to travel to London to give a speech. Zac Efron, Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg, Idris Elba, Natalie Portman, Ed Sheeran, Melissa McCarthy and Julia Roberts were allowed to enter Australia. Some of these stars were permitted to quarantine at a location of their choosing rather than a cramped quarantine hotel.

The exit ban in particular lacks any logical justification. This Thursday will see the commencement of the Federal Court in Sydney hearing a significant legal challenge to the travel bans. The lives of tens of thousands of anguished people hang in the balance of the decision of the Full Court.

No other country has imposed exit bans, including the stars of COVID management, New Zealand and Taiwan. Prior to the move to criminalise Australians returning from India, the Minster imposed fines that in theory apply to people who take advantage of the New Zealand ‘travel bubble’ to travel on to other countries.

It is not acceptable for the Government to point to the need to keep numbers in hotel quarantine under control. Nor is it defensible to blame returning travellers for the shortcomings in Australia’s hotel quarantine system.

For decades during the Cold War, this country campaigned against the communist bloc that prevented its people from leaving. Our Government should not be preventing Australians from leaving our shores and should not be imprisoning Australian citizens for returning home.

Instead, procedures can be and should be put in place to enable people who are fully vaccinated to travel abroad and to be placed in effective quarantine upon their return. If hotel quarantine is ineffective, then it is time for the Government to provide purpose-built facilities.

Pauline Wright is the President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.


Critics label data-sharing Bill as 'eroding privacy in favour of bureaucratic convenience'

Facing the Senate committee, probing the Data Availability and Transparency Bill 2020, was Jonathan Gadir from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, who highlighted the discrepancy between the goals of the Bill and what it actually allows to occur.

"The term 'public sector data' is really giving the impression that data contemplated by the Bill is aggregated statistics of some kind -- the definition in the Bill is far broader than the goals would require, encompassing 'all data collected, created, or held by the Commonwealth or on its behalf'," he said.

"This obviously includes detailed personal information. And this kind of information is often intimate and sensitive."

Such information, Gadir explained, includes information about relationships and finances, which is disclosed to Centrelink to receive a pension, or disclosed to Immigration as part of a visa application.

"People are revealing most intensely intimate parts of their lives right now to Border Force as they beg for permission to be allowed to leave the country," he said. "So the broad definition of public sector data is not really the right one for this Bill."

He said that if the Bill was really just to improve service delivery, inform policymaking, and allow for research, then there should be a definition of public sector data to reflect that.

"Let's exclude personal information from the definition of public sector data and say that it must be anonymous. Let's also say the permitted purposes should not include making administrative decisions that will affect individuals," he continued.

"Basic fairness and civil liberties are really under threat when personal information we're compelled to disclose to a government agency is then spread silently behind the scenes to other agencies or private companies, and is able to be used in surprising and unexpected ways."

https://www.zdnet.com/article/critics-label-data-sharing-bill-as-eroding-privacy-in-favour-of-bureaucratic-convenience/

Also:https://thewest.com.au/politics/commissioner-defends-data-sharing-bill-c-2638549


Government milkshake consent video 'fell well short of the mark'


NSWCCL on proposed national data sharing agreement

Media coverage: ITNews

'Federal, state and territory leaders have agreed to create an intergovernmental agreement to facilitate greater data sharing between all levels of government.

The plan for the high-level agreement, which is still to be developed, was endorsed at a meeting of national cabinet.

“National cabinet agreed that jurisdictions will work together to capitalise on the value of public data to achieve better outcomes for Australians,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

While details remain scarce, the pact will likely make it easier for federal, state and territory government to share data, building on efforts with health and travel data during Covid-19.

The planned agreement would likely work alongside the Data Availability and Transparency Bill, which is currently before federal parliament.

The legislation aims to streamline data sharing between governments and the private sector, overriding some 500 provisions in 175 pieces of existing legislation.

But it faces calls for amendments from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, Australian Medical Association and the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.'

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Privacy experts sound alarm over COVID QR codes

Media coverage: Sydney Morning Herald

'Customer Service Minister Victor Dominello has promised mandatory venue check-ins will be lifted “as soon as we get the green light from health experts”, as privacy experts warn the COVID-19 check-in tool lacks safeguards.

Mr Dominello said the QR code system was only intended for contact tracing during “pandemic conditions” but those might continue for some time....

Mr Dominello said the data was securely stored for 28 days and then destroyed, and “under no circumstance ... shared with other parties or agencies outside NSW Health”. Privacy was at the “forefront of our thinking” when delivering digital services, he said.

But Michelle Falstein, secretary of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, warned personal data collected by the check-in tool could be used for purposes other than contact tracing.

“Such broad purpose could enable the sharing of health information with police or for any other number of additional, loosely linked purposes not anticipated by the public,” Ms Falstein said in a letter to Mr Dominello. 

Ms Falstein also expressed concern about the lack of an end date for use of the check-in tool to enter businesses such as pubs, restaurants and entertainment venues.'

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Vaccine ‘passports’: a legal and ethical minefield

Media coverage: Spectator Australia

'On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson outlined his ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown. An important aspect of this plan is vaccine ‘passports’, even though, as Fraser Nelson wrote on The Spectator’s Coffee House website the next day, Johnson didn’t want to admit to them. He referred to his plans as ‘Covid status certification’. 

Such a plan is fraught with several legal and ethical questions, leading to many MPs voicing strong opposition to vaccine ‘passports’. Last weekend a group of 72 MPs signed a pledge against them. This ‘cross-party coalition’ includes Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who has stated vaccine ‘passports’ would be against the “British instinct”. Another signatory is Starmer’s predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn. One of the Conservative signatories, Sir Graham Brady, Chairman of the influential 1922 Committee of Tory backbenchers, said: “COVID-status certification would be divisive and discriminatory.” He added: “With high levels of vaccination protecting the vulnerable and making transmission less likely, we should aim to return to normal life, not to put permanent restrictions in place.”

Therein lies the problem...

With regard to vaccine ‘passports’ for travel, NSW Council for Civil Liberties spokesperson Stephen Blanks said last November that the Federal Government would need to ensure that appropriate allowances are made for people who have legitimate reasons for not getting vaccinated. Those reasons could be health, religious or conscientious based. Such reasons would be protected in accordance with articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Australia has ratified. Those articles guarantee freedom of speech, conscience and religion.'

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NSWCCL - Lift the travel ban and clarify process

29 MARCH 2021                                    

PUBLIC STATEMENT

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties calls on the Federal Government to end the ban on leaving Australia and introduce clear and transparent rules for who gets to enter Australia.

This week marks a year since the imposition of both inward and outward travel bans. The government has adopted an authoritarian approach to the issue of incoming and outgoing travellers rather than improving the hotel quarantine system. This approach must now end.

The total lack of transparency around the basis for the granting and rejecting of applications is causing immense suffering in the community.

What is most galling is the ease with which rich and well-connected people seem to come and go as they please while ordinary people who have been separated from partners and immediate family for over a year receive rejection after rejection, with no reasons given, even when their applications meet all the stated criteria.

“It is quite shocking that we have a ban on exiting the country with no clear or compelling justification”, said Pauline Wright, President of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. “Since the government has made it very difficult for people to return, and testing and quarantine measures remain in place on arrival, it is hard to understand the purpose of the exit ban, let alone its proportionality.”

“The terms of the Biosecurity Determination are vague, allowing enormous discretion, and the proof required of applicants is unclear. A lack of clarity increases the costs of mobility and adds unneeded stress to the lives of citizens who just want to go out of their country” said Ms Wright. “It is dismaying that the government is acting in a manner unprecedented in the democratic world in prohibiting people from leaving Australia. It displays a disregard for fundamental human rights and liberties.”

When it comes to entering the country, NSWCCL is aware of many people who qualify as immediate family members of Australians who have been rejected in applications to re-unite.

“The government must be far clearer in publicly explaining the basis for its decision-making and give people reasons,” said Ms Wright.

The government has had a year to produce a more open, transparent process. Enough is enough.

NSWCCL will watch with interest the challenge in the Federal Court of Australia to the exit ban regulations being brought by LibertyWorks. However, the result of that case is far from certain.

“This travel ban once again underscores the urgency of a federal charter of rights to better protect human rights and freedoms in Australia. Australia is unique in the western world for lacking federal legislative or constitutional human rights protections.”


For comment and for case studies of people with applications rejected willing to speak to media, please contact: NSWCCL President Pauline Wright on [email protected]


Work with us

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) was established in 1963 as an independent not-for-profit member organisation committed to protecting civil liberties and human rights in Australia. We are secular and politically non-partisan.

We engage with a wide range of civil liberties and human rights issues within NSW and at a national level.

Our main work is done through policy advocacy and campaigns to influence community views and government policies and laws. NSWCCL also responds to complaints from the public on civil liberties related issues. As a member organisation, our work is largely done by volunteers, led by an elected Committee (equivalent to a board of directors).


CURRENT VACANCIES:

Volunteer roles with NSWCCL Action Groups. Please email [email protected] with an expression of interest, indicating which Action Group/s you would like to contribute to.