With the virus crisis closing down jury trials, it’s timely to investigate how fair trials are when conducted by electronic means. Australian researchers lead the world in this area: here are the views, from research, of Prof Meredith Rossner and Prof David Tait.
At last the experts are starting to agree with what civil libertarians like CLA have been saying for a decade and a half: everything to do with counterring terrorism is massively out of kilter with reality, including the funds and people/material resources allocated, the parliamentary time spent on it, and the massive headlines given to it. In Australia, we literally have had much more important things to worry about since about 2005.
While civil society is grating the government licence to use extraordinary powers during a medical emergency, that is no excuse to abuse people’s trust by bringing in draconian measures like over-the-top surveillance and elimination of the flimsy privacy rights we still retain, CLA says.
A new rights-eroding law would increase the reach of police and spooks into our lives at the expense of our withering rights, says author Paul Gregoire writing for Sydney Criminal Lawyers. The Frankenstein legislation would enable five-ways open slather access to all phone calls, emails, data and even metadata.
Children’s brains have not formed until well into their teenage years, so they are not mature enough to acquire the intent for full criminal responsibility under the age 16, CLA argues in its submission to the national working group preparing advice for all Attorneys-General on the age of criminal responsibility. CLA also believes that no child under 16 should be detained in a jail-like setting, and mandatory sentencing should be abandoned by all jurisdictions for children under 16.
The governments’ proposed Religious Freedom laws would legitimise discrimination in the name of religion, undermine states’ rights, discriminate against non-believers, and generally make employment provisions in the health and education sector a minefield for anyone other than highly-qualified lawyers. As well, the laws would further entrench tax breaks for organisations that don’t provide the services to earn them. The government can do much better: a fundamental redrafting of the proposals is needed, CLA says.
The Queensland Productivity Commission has delivered its seminal report on the state of jails in that state but in reality standing for all Australian jails. Their recommendations provide a blueprint for saving taxpayers money, ending a massive jail-building program over the next decade, and seriously reducing the number of people in prison. Will our fearful governments have the courage to take positive action to achieve a better system delivering better justice?