AG wants to lead Australia on raising responsibility age

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.

What’s the rate of wrongful convictions in Australia?

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.

‘Shocking scandal nobody wants to touch’: MP

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 extradites with one hand tied, costing Aussies liberty

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.

Kids locked in jail cell isolation 24/7

Nearly 130 children  – 55 of them Indigenous – are locked in cells in isolation 24/7 in Brisbane’s youth jail. The Covid-19 emergency has highlighted the problems – including costs – of locking up children, sometimes as young as 10 because the age of criminal responsibility is so low. Most locked-up children need professional help and special education, not to be in jail.

Coronavirus Pandemic: Statements by CLA

For all the period of the Covid-19 pandemic, then in the longer-term recovery to normal phase, civil liberties and human rights must be integrated into every decision of all authorities. While a health and emergency policing response is vital, so too is ensuring that the maximum freedoms of Australians are respected at all times. Premiers and others are in danger of forgetting peoples’ rights matter too!

AGs are cowards not to lift age of responsibility    

Australia’s Attorney-General showed cowardice in not lifting the age of criminal responsibillity from 10 10 at least 14, CLA President Dr Kristine Klugman says. A national justice department group has been working on the issue for years: it strongly recommended the common national age goes up, now. It’s time for one or mroe AGs to show the courage of their convictions, not the least because it will help keep Aboriginal kids as young as 10 from dominating juvenile jailings in Australia.

Asylum seekers, refugees and Covid-19: most vulnerable, most exposed?

Vulnerable refugee claimants are at greater risk of catching Covid-19 illness because of where they are housed, and general poor nutrition and ill-health because of their poverty. Without incomes as the economy grinds to a halt, their plight is worsening. Meanwhile the Australian government appears to have a policy of deliberating slowing down their ‘day in court’ by appointing the wrong people to the main tribunal that hears refugee claims. CLA Director Jennifer Ashton tells the story.

Releasing non-violent inmates could reduce COVID spread potential

As Iran releases 100,000 prisoners, Australian jails are still packed with the potential for major COVID-19 spread into the community, Paul Gregoire writes for Sydney Criminal Lawyers. And, as usual, Indigenous prisoners are relatively most at risk because of their large numbers and poor health. The WHO and UN have warned Australia about the potential for jails to spread the pandemic. ‘Prison health is a matter of public health’.