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Civil Liberties Australia is about standing up for your rights.
There's a dangerous clause still lurking in the Australian Constitution which could be abused by an incoming federal government. A new government can disallow (that is, get rid of) any law passed in the previous 12 months, even it it has been formally approved by the Governor-General. The Constitutional clause itself should go, writes Jeff Miles.
When police or the spy agencies say they only want your metadata, what exactly does that mean? It isn't what you say, but when, where, how, and to whom you say it. See how six months of 'live' metadata exposes someone's life almost completely.
Recent revelations of wholesale, systemic phone tapping by the USA and by police and spook agencies in Australia could be the camel that broke the elephant in the room's back. Graham Macafee warns that self-censorship in these surveilled times is one of our greatest threats.
The Attorney-General's department, supposed upholder of civil liberties and the rule of law, "is the single greatest threat to the basic rights of Australians," says Bernard Keane. Rather than being mentor to and monitor of its portfolio agencies, the department is cheerleader to the excesses of some of them, like the Australian Crime Commission, in CLA's experience.
The less government supervision of agencies and departments, the more outrageous their behaviour. The money-fraud regulator, ASIC, apparently thinks it is entitled to censor the internet, as do federal police and spooks. No, we the people are entitled to know what you are trying to secretly do to our internet: it's ours, not yours. The Attorney-General needs to launch an open inquiry, instantly.
Statistics on deaths in custody mask the true number whether Indigenous or not, the President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association, Ray Jackson, says. In this interview, he outlines a number of cases worrying his organisation, which is actively seeking answers.
Aussies wanting to observe democracy in action in their Parliament House in Canberra are put through humiliating and demeaning extra scanning processes which are set to ridiculously high trigger levels. And don't even ask if you're allowed to take notes – you'll be surprised by the number of answers you get!
The mandatory see-through scanning charade at Australia's international airports is security theatre, aimed at boosting corporate profits more than passenger safety, says Dee McLachlan. Drowning, falling off a horse, being stung by a bee are a far bigger threat to your average Australian's life. Why don't we put our money where the risk is, she asks?
Prison deaths are up, general custody deaths are about stable, over the three years of the latest report, the Australian Institute of Criminology says. But Indigenous deaths comprise about 20-30% of the total, whereas they comprise only about 3% of the general population. This is a national disgrace, which all governments should address immediately, CLA says.
Our adversarial legal system puts innocent people in jail...too often, says Evan Whitton. If we are not to reform the basic system, and adopt the better inquisitorial approach, we desperately need a Criminal Cases Review Commission to make sure innocent people can be set free from wrongful imprisonment.
Two reviews agree with Civil Liberties Australia: the excesses of the terror laws need to be wound back. Preventative detention laws should be abolished, according to the Independent Monitor of these laws. Rhys Michie gives a rundown on the two recent reports, tabled in Parliament in a way that would receive minimum coverage.
People frequently ask Civil Liberties Australia about the rights/wrongs of vaccination. This statement/article sets out our formal stance, and explains why and how far we support proven immunisation campaigns, as well as withdrawal of children from pre-schools and the like if important to prevent medical emergencies.
A new law which allows the correcting of miscarriages of justice in South Australia needs mirroring throughout Australia, academics Bibi Sangha and Dr Bob Moles believe. They explain how the law is needed for Australia to live up to our formal human rights obligations.
The more we make drugs illegal, the more people end up in jail, supported by the taxpayer at the cost of $300 or more a day. That's right, we pay about the equivalent of a top class hotel room every day for each person in jail over drugs. It's crazy, says Brian McConnell, who proposes a three-step solution.
Civil liberties and human rights lost out in Budget 2013. Not only did they lose to the police, security-like agencies and the spooks by not receiving funds, but some civil justice and human rights areas were actually robbed off promised funds to pay for excesses of security stupidity, like locking Australians out of their own major cities.
Increasing sex offender sentences to try to meet public expectations shaped by the media would be both unjust and never-ending, CLA believes. Instead, Richard Griggs argues, we need to better communicate the work of the courts so citizens are better educated about both justice and sentencing.
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More asylum boats arriving means more people in detention, and more mandatory Ombudsman reviews of people held for more than two years. Analysing these reviews show 68% of asylum seekers suffer mental problems because of, or made worse by, holding them in Immigration 'jails'. But the government fails to respond to half the cases when major health problems are identified. It's time the Minister was held accountable.
The national disgrace which is Aboriginal youth detention in WA is expanding. The State Government is locking up increasingly outrageous percentages of young Indigenous people in a way that is statistically racist. It's also crazy, because WA taxpayers pay $624 a day to lock up each child. When are WA taxpayers going to demand their politicians stop wasting taxes?