NSWCCL in the media

GlobeEcho: Two additional men arrested for involvement in Wakeley church disturbance

A 28-year-old man has been arrested and charged with threatening violence and causing fear after a riot at Horningsea Park.

This resulted in injuries to over 50 police officers and forced paramedics to take shelter in a church for more than three hours while managing the crowd. In response to the violence, Premier Chris Minns underscored his confidence in religious leaders' denouncement of violence and warned that any further unrest would undermine their authority.

The first count appearance was 19-year-old Dani Mansour who was granted bail and admitted that his participation in the riot was a mistake. Additionally, an assault on a 53-year-old religious leader during the incident has been officially classified as a terrorist act by the police. The 16-year-old suspected of this attack is currently hospitalized under police supervision and is set to be evaluated by a forensic psychologist. His attorney has indicated that the teenager has longstanding mental health issues that could have influenced his behavior.

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Media Statement: Kneejerk law and order responses will continue to make women at risk of being harmed and murdered

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties joins our community in mourning the intolerable rates of women being murdered in Australia. Eleven women have been murdered in the month of April alone. In 2024, the rate of murdered women has doubled compared to this time last year. 

The Council supports the rallies occurring across the country over the weekend demanding an end to gendered violence.

We are also aware of the most recent alleged murder of a young mother in Forbes and support the recently announced inquiry into the alleged murder. 

The rising rate of domestic violence has not abated in NSW, even after new laws and tougher penalties were introduced over the past six years. This scourge will not be solved by kneejerk legislative responses (including expanding police powers and restricting bail) under the guise of making women safer. 

We have written to the NSW Attorney General with respect to the structural and cultural changes that need to be made as a matter of urgency. Importantly, we echo the sentiments expressed by the former NSW Magistrate, David Heilpern. 

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NSWCCL Media Statement: Freedom Flotilla must have safe passage

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties is aware that there is a freedom flotilla that will shortly be departing Turkiye with 5,500 tonnes of humanitarian aid including food and medical supplies for the citizens of Palestine.

We are aware that international human rights observers will be accompanying the volunteers aboard the Freedom Flotilla, including Australian citizens.

The Council recognises the Freedom Flotilla as both a form of protest and as a humanitarian relief campaign with the focus on abating the extreme conditions being experienced by the innocent civilians in Palestine. We note that this includes starvation, mass displacement, lack of access to medical assistance, psychological trauma and death.

We are calling on the Australian Government to ensure that they do everything within their power to safeguard the Freedom Flotilla. This includes ensuring, to the fullest extent possible, that it is not intercepted by any foreign States and that their safe passage as a humanitarian convey is respected.

We have witnessed aid workers and those delivering humanitarian assistance in Palestine dying in the most tragic of circumstances, including Australian citizens. It is concerning that the death of aid workers, including Australian citizens, has not resulted in any meaningful action being undertaken on behalf of the Australian Government.

We call upon the Australian Government to do all that they can, both publicly and through diplomatic means, to ensure that the Freedom Flotilla is provided safe passage to Palestine and that the humanitarian assistance is permitted to be supplied to Palestinian civilians.

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AAP: Knife attacks spark interstate search for law solutions

Police could be able to stop and search people for a weapon without reasonable suspicion or a warrant under laws being considered by the NSW government.

NSWCCL does not support giving police more powers. We believe this would amount to nothing more than a "knee-jerk response to a series of violent and distressing but isolated incidents".

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Sydney Criminal Lawyers: Former NSW DPP Nicholas Cowdery Calls on NSW Government to Reform Drug Laws

“We should all be accustomed by now to government promises – before and after elections – being broken or modified and this seems to be just another example,” former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions Nicolas Cowdery said, regarding the go-slow on promised state drug law reform.

“Last year, I was assured by a very senior member of the government that a drug summit would be held in February 2024,” this state’s longest serving DPP continued. “Now there are rumours of October 2024. I have also heard it said that this may be a second term commitment.”

NSW Premier Chris Minns won the March 2023 state election with a platform that included drug law reform, to be initiated through a NSW drug summit.

This approach follows a successful precedent set by the Carr Labor government's 1999 NSW Drug Summit, which was considered groundbreaking for its outcomes.

Since 2018, the push for drug law reform has been prominent, driven by several drug-related deaths at festivals, a methamphetamine crisis, significant inquiries such as the Special Commission into Ice, and a global consensus on the failure of the drug war.

Minns' pre-election commitments came as a logical response to public concerns. He not only vowed to convene the summit but also enthusiastically promised his fellow Labor MPs advocating for drug law reform that he would legalise cannabis.

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The Australian: Labor for Refugees splits on ‘flawed’ migration laws

The Labor for Refugees group has criticized the emergency migration laws introduced by the Albanese government, asserting that certain provisions violate the ALP national platform and deepen divisions within the party.

The group's NSW/ACT branch, expressed concern over the legislation, which grants the immigration minister authority to compel non-citizens to depart Australia and restricts arrivals from entire nations. Describing the bill as "flawed," the group urged MPs to oppose it. Specifically, they objected to mandatory prison terms ranging from one to five years for non-compliance, arguing that this contradicts the ALP's stance against mandatory sentencing.

Additionally, they cautioned against expanding the immigration minister's powers, which they believe undermines the national platform's commitment to robust and transparent processes for protection visa claims.

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CityHub: Civil liberties council advocates for NSW prisoners’ right to vote

Yesterday, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) presented before the NSW Electoral Matters committee, calling for the elimination of existing constraints on prisoners' voting rights.

Despite First Nations people constituting 3.2% of Australia's population as of June 2022, they comprise 30.4% of NSW's adult prison population.

Under the NSW Electoral Act 2017, individuals convicted of an offense and serving a sentence of 12 months or more are barred from voting.

"The Council strongly believes that any exclusion of a person’s right to vote is a grave curtailing of the right to participate in a healthy democracy,” said NSWCCL in a statement released yesterday.

President Lydia Shelly said, “The right to vote is just one of a range of human rights such as freedom of speech and rights to associate, assemble and protest that are fundamental to democracy.

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ABC: Parents of teen who died by stabbing in 2019 push for 'wanding' laws to be introduced in NSW

The parents of a teenager who tragically lost his life in a knife attack in 2019, prompting the implementation of "wanding" regulations in Queensland, are advocating for similar measures to be adopted in New South Wales.

Referred to colloquially as "Jack's Law" in honor of the victim, 17-year-old Jack Beasley, these regulations allow police to utilise metal-detecting wands for warrantless searches in specified zones, including certain shopping centers.

Brett Beasley, Jack's father, disclosed to ABC Radio Sydney recently that he spoke with NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley last year regarding the adoption of Jack's Law in NSW.

NSW Police Minister Yasmin Catley has confirmed that senior members within the government are currently discussing implementation of knife laws.

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Media Statement: NSW Police should not dictate NSW Government Policy

The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties is concerned about media reporting alleging that NSW Police are lobbying the State Government to introduce new laws that would create criminal offences for the parents of minors found with weapons, including knives.

BOSCAR data indicates that knife crime has declined in New South Wales over recent consecutive years. The position of NSW police does not reflect the current research on the prevention of crime. We strongly urge the State Government to resist populist calls for legislative change that will not make our communities safer.

The Council urges all levels of Government to invest in our public mental health care system, public mental health supports and resources (including in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities). This includes committing to a date for the proposed ‘whole of government’ Drug Summit, which remains one of the unfulfilled election promises to the people in New South Wales that could meaningfully impact weapons related crime.

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Sydney Criminal Lawyers: NSW Should Extend Voting Rights to All Inmates to Better Serve the Community

Currently, individuals incarcerated in NSW serving sentences of 12 months or more are ineligible to vote in state elections. However, federally, these restrictions only apply to those sentenced to at least three years of imprisonment. This discrepancy has prompted questions from civil rights groups in NSW, who are now urging the government to address this disparity and advocate for equal voting rights for all incarcerated individuals, regardless of the length of their sentence.

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties is among these groups. NSWCCL holds the position that inmates should not be denied the right to participate in this fundamental democratic process. Not only is this denial contrary to any potential rehabilitative outcomes that detention might serve for an inmate, but it also harms society as a whole.

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