All Australian jurisdictions have agreed, after years of research and national discussions, to raise the Age of Criminal Responsibility for children from 10, but have failed to act together on an agreement reached in 2020. The ACT has decided the issue is so important that it will go it alone by the end of 2021, showing a lead to the other states and the NT, and will raise the age from 10 to 14.
Despite having a delay of 18 months for judicial/legal and Covid reasons during which to prepare, Tasmania’s Court of Criminal Appeal refuses to live-stream the Sue Neill-Fraser case starting 1 March 2021, Although there is intense interest Australia-wide, only 18 people can sit in the public gallery, 17 can watch CCTV coverage from the next door courtroom, and eight media are to be corralled in another separate CCTV room. The court claims a reason for no live-streaming is that it might order a retrial, a final decision that is actually beyond the power of the court to make. Neill-Fraser is appealing a murder conviction from 2009, which CLA believes was a miscarriage of justice.
LATE NEWS: Robert Richter QC of Melbourne has replaced Tom Percy QC of Perth as SNF’s barrister, due to Covid-19.
No-one keeps statistics on wrongful convictions in Australia, so the rate has to be derived from overseas. Bill Rowlings of Civil Liberties Australia uses the virtually identical legal-police-courts systems in the UK, which does have a statutory authority keeping accurate figures. In Australia, the ‘headline’ rate for major crimes of 6% will surprise many people: for minor crimes, the legal system gets it wrong in about 10% of cases, questioning whether ‘justice’ in Australia needs a major commission of inquiry.
Ordinary citizens are starting to fight back agains the problems of police-investigating police (PIP). Camera phones are becoming instruments of truth when police officers collude to deny, during internal police inquiries, that they used excessive force, or bashed, a person they were arresting. You have a right to film police in public, provided you don’t hinder them. ‘Stop PIP’ is a new CLA campaign, in development.
In capital cities around Australia, 9 November marked ’Stop the Prosecution!s’ day when supporters called on Australia’s Attorney-General Christian Porter to end the secret trials of Witness K from ASIS and his lawyer Bernard Collaery. Their trials – secret evidence in closed courts – are contrary to the rule of law, which the AG is supposedly the guardian of.
How we turn out first responders to emergency mental health situations colours the entire way people with drug-health problems are then treated, Bill Bush says. We need to learn lessons from other countries whose systems are much more helpful to people regaining their health and place in the community.
A South Australian MP in late-September 2020 has called in parliament for a royal commission into half a century of forensic disasters in SA that have put 400 criminal cases, and more, in doubt. He echoes calls by similar CLA in 2016 and 2019, and by others, including into a case where Australia’s longest-serving Aboriginal prisoner, Derek Bromley (photo), remains in jail 37 years after his conviction and 16 years after he could have had parole, because he refuses to admit guilt in a case where evidence from an unqualified and incompetent forensic “expert” sealed his fate. On 12 October, Ch 9 will air yet another expose on the can of worms underlies “justice” in SA.
Australia’s one-side extradition regime gives citizens of other countries much greater legal protection than Australian citizens get. Other countries simply have to allege wrongdoing, and Australia locks up – and extradites – people living in Australia. But going in the other direction, we have to prove, with evidence, our case before other nations will hand over people in their jursidiction. It’s stupid law, and even crazier civil liberties.