The Guardian reports that a coalition of legal, social justice and Aboriginal groups (including NSWCCL) says the New South Wales government should cease prosecuting Aboriginal people for exercising their cultural fishing rights.
'The NSW Council for Civil Liberties president, Pauline Wright, said the government’s attitude was indicative of “systematic racism”. “If the aim was truly to protect the marine environment, they wouldn’t be allowing commercial fishing to expand at the same time as prosecuting Aboriginal fishers,” she said.'
- Read the full article: Aboriginal groups call on NSW government to end cultural fishing prosecutions
- More information: Local NSW fishermen are being prosecuted under State law contrary to their Native Title rights NSWCCL 15 Sept '21
Sydney Criminal Lawyers writer Paul Gregoire comments that reports of police officers wearing symbols associated with white supremacy or being captured on camera making symbols conveying the same racist message, have been increasing throughout a number of Australian jurisdictions over the past couple of years.
He examines recent incidents across Australian jurisdictions and covers our recent letter to the Police Minister on this topic (we are still waiting for a response).
Read the full article: Calls on Police Minister to curb officers flaunting insignia linked to white supremacy
Writing for Mondaq, Paul Gregoire notes one positive outcome of the pandemic is that it's brought human rights and civil liberties to the fore.
"For some in the community, the fact that rights protections in this country are fairly weak might come as a surprise. For others – such as First Nations peoples, refugees and asylum seekers – this was well understood long before COVID-19 ever disembarked at an Australian airport."
"Civil liberties advocates have been warning of a general erosion of rights that's been occurring due to the passing of numerous national security bills over the past two decades, with the last such piece of legislation – the Identify and Disrupt Bill – being passed during the extended NSW lockdown."
The article notes NSWCCL's clear support for those who do not wish to get a vaccine, balanced by its recognition that a requirement to demonstrate vaccine status to, for example, cross a border is not unreasonable in the circumstances.
- Read the full article: COVID-19 restrictions and the Civil Liberties - Human Rights quagmire Mondaq 6 Oct '21
- Vaccine passports NSWCCL 5 Aug '21
Our President Pauline Wright was a guest on today's Hack for an interesting discussion about vaccine passports: how will they work? What about our privacy and rights?
Political columnist Michael Moore examines planned legislation to ensure definitions of cabinet includes the national cabinet, and therefore keep its deliberations secret.
"While a small number of protestors are using the streets and violence to make a point about their right to freedom from vaccination, much more important civil liberties are being eroded. Should this legislation be successful, the reasons behind decisions taken in the “national cabinet” will remain secret for 30 years."
He quotes CCL:
“This cannot be seen as anything other than a blatant and cynical attempt to avoid transparency by including within the definition of cabinet something that cannot properly be called a cabinet at all.” (Read our full piece The 'National Cabinet' should not be above scrutiny)
Read the full article: More secrets being hidden in national cabinet
Eric Meijer reports that Australia's spreading pilot programs to let travelers quarantine in the privacy of their own homes are drawing criticism from some quarters for invading that privacy.
"Across Asia and elsewhere, countries have deployed various technologies to help fight COVID-19, from contact tracing apps to QR-code check-ins for entering establishments. But some see Australian authorities' use of facial recognition and geolocation to enforce home quarantines as a step down a slippery slope, even as efforts to reopen borders come as a relief."
The article quotes NSWCCL's Secretary Michelle Falstein:
"We would be concerned greatly at how facial recognition information is shared amongst other government departments, how it's stored, how easily it's hacked, a number of issues about how the information is dealt with and how it's also used for other purposes. So those sorts of things are really not covered off under legislation in this country at the moment."
Read the full article: Australia border relief brings unease over 'Orwellian' quarantines
Chip Le Grand asks whether in our singular determination to protect life from the spread of a virus, we were at risk of losing something just as precious.
This opinion piece for The Age quotes our Victorian sister organisation"
"Liberty Victoria president Julia Kretzenbacher says the pandemic has exposed the weakness of Australia’s human rights protections and the toothless nature of Victoria’s 15-year-old human rights charter, which doesn’t enable individuals to sue for damages when their human rights are unlawfully breached."
"Kretzenbacher says a central problem with the Victorian government’s public health response is the lack of transparency surrounding its decisions and their compatibility with human rights. She says it is difficult to draw a line between public health orders which are reasonable and those which are not because of the lack of information made publicly available about them."
It also notes that "The NSW Council of Civil Liberties has also warned about the overreach and disproportionality of stay-at-home orders imposed on some of Sydney’s most ethnically diverse suburbs".
Read the full article: Freedom, interrupted: Will the liberties we lost to COVID be regained?
Channel 10 considers the road map out of lockdown, looking at planned restrictions on unvaccinated people.
Our President Pauline Wright called for rapid testing: “If [people] can prove that they are covid free they should be able to go about their normal business just as you or I can”.
She also commented that, while restrictions on the unvaccinated are legal for now, “when they cease to be proportionate, if they outlast the crisis and outlast the threat, then that might not be the case any more.”
More: view the Channel 10 coverage
Four academics writing in The Conversation criticised Mark Latham's report into his own bill saying that the "inquiry ignores scientific research in supporting changes to the Education Act. These changes are likely to add to the risks of harm that transgender and gender-diverse young people face".
The piece quoted our Tweet stream calling out the inquiry and commending the minority report rather than the majority.
Full article: NSW inquiry rejects expert advice on Parental Rights Bill, and it will cause students to suffer The Conversation 14 Sept '21
SBS News covered Common Ground Towers residents' protest against 'overpolicing' on Saturday after revelations that officers were searching packages and confiscating alcohol under the direction of NSW Health.
The coverage quoted the open letter we signed with Amnesty International, Legal Observers NSW, Tenants Union NSW, Shelter NSW and Melbourne Activist Legal Support condemning "the inappropriate policing and unlawful searches imposed on residents of Common Ground in Camperdown".
Read the full article: Sydney social housing towers residents protest 'overpolicing' SBS News 11 Sept '21