Archive for the ‘Justice’ Category

MEDIA RELEASE: 7th July, 2010: Statement on asylum seekers



7th July, 2010

Statement on asylum seekers

The National Executive of the Australian Democrats has voted to strongly oppose the offshore processing and demonising of asylum seekers and calls on the Gillard Labor Government to:

· Acknowledge that seeking asylum from violence, war, famine, torture and persecution is legal under international law;

· Stand up against the misinformation that the Abbott Liberal opposition is peddling about asylum seekers and not to bow to political pressure to reverse the ALP’s commitment to our human rights obligations;

· Ensure that Australia lives up to its obligations under United Nations Conventions on Human Rights and Refugees;

· Provide an assurance that no asylum seeker will be sent back to an environment that will endanger their lives or result in persecution, torture or other harm;

· Ensure that the process of assessing claims for asylum is open to public scrutiny, including temporary detention of asylum seekers on the mainland for health and security assessment purposes and opening up the detention centres to NGO scrutiny and monitoring of the standards of living and compliance with human rights;

· Ensure the efficient and expedient processing of claims and limiting of detention to a short period whilst health and security assessments are made. Once it is determined that there is no health or security risk, move asylum seekers to community based accommodation whilst their claim is finalised providing financial and case work assistance until an outcome has be reached;

· Ensure a transparent appeals mechanism to ensure procedural fairness to those asylum seekers appealing against the refusal of their claim for refugee status;

· Ensure that those who are found to be legitimate refugees are given adequate financial and resettlement support including but not limited to Medicare and Centrelink benefits, Job seeker assistance and Education and Training support.

Further comment: National President, Julia Melland ph. 0431357585 or Australian Democrats Human Rights Spokesperson, Sandra Kanck, ph 08 8336 4114 or 0417 882 143

Media Release: 26th February, 2010: Proposed police powers laws labelled “Draconian” by Democrats



ACT Democrats President

Media Release: 26th February, 2010:

Proposed police powers laws labelled “Draconian” by Democrats

ACT Democrats President and civil libertarian, Darren Churchill has urged Assembly members to avoid legislating draconian laws when they consider the government’s Crimes (Surveillance Devices) Bill and Serious and Organised Crimes Bill, introduced into the Legislative Assembly yesterday.

News reports yesterday stated that the government had introduced new ACT legislation to give police increased powers in fighting organised crime.

“We don’t want to see a local version of the draconian laws introduced in other States!” Mr Churchill declared.

“There need to be strong safeguards to protect against the misuse of electronic surveillance. Can we be assured that the forms of surveillance mentioned in the legislation will only ever be used with a warrant? And only ever when there is reasonable suspicion of the commission of a crime?”

“What guarantees are there that the “Emergency authorisation” provisions under Section 25 of the Crimes (Surveillance Devices) Bill will only ever be used in an emergency – and not just as an excuse to inappropriately assume extra surveillance powers?” questioned Mr Churchill

“Section 35A of the Serious and Organised Crimes Bill creates a new offence of “Affray.” This makes it an offence to threaten someone with unlawful violence or make them fear for their safety.”

“Doesn’t this already exist under the offence of “Assault”? We need to see clarification as to how the interpretation of these offences differs. Or is the government just trying to sound tough?” continued Mr Churchill.

“And surely penalties should be prescribed by the courts, not by legislation.”

“We are also concerned about the ACT Government’s plan to make it illegal to participate in a group which may or may not be labelled as illegal. Under Section 652 of the Serious and Organised Crimes Bill, it says that:

“A person commits an offence if the person—

(c) knows, or ought to have known, that the person’s participation

in the criminal group contributes to criminal activity.”

“I don’t think it is wise to concentrate heavily on membership of groups and the Australian Crime Commission has already said so in a submission to the Federal Government. Focusing on group activity is not an effective way to fight organised crime.”

“Alleged criminals should be charged for an offence they commit as individuals, but it is not right nor appropriate to charge someone for the group they may belong to and the people they associate with.”

“There are serious freedom of association issues at stake here, which echo the anti-bikie laws in other jurisdictions.” warned Mr Churchill

“A properly resourced and increasingly visible police presence would surely be more effective in combating all types of criminal activity, rather than invasive surveillance technology and draconian increases to police powers. The well-intentioned efforts to fight organised crime should not be at a cost of personal freedom. We don’t want to see organised crime legislation become the anti-terror legislation of the new decade.” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill

ACT Democrats President

Tel: 0412 196 473

Media Release: 07 June 2008: ACT Democrats Question Crimestoppers Website



Media Release: 07 June 2008

ACT Democrats Question Crimestoppers Website

ACT Democrats President, Darren Churchill has described the new Crimestoppers website as “an outrageous violation of privacy!”

ABC News reported today about a new Crimestoppers website which displays pictures of suspected criminals and people who may have witnessed a crime. The website has been attacked by Civil Liberties Australia.

“The Civil Liberties people are right to raise concerns about the Crimestoppers website. The website denies the presumption of innocence to people accused of a crime and consequently denies them the right to a fair trial. It also places potential witnesses at risk by publicising their identity.” Mr Churchill said.

“People suspected of a crime have a right to a fair trial and the due processes of law. This is a whole new dimension to trial by media – it’s trial by Internet!”

“Being caught on CCTV may be fairly damning evidence. But surely the due process of the law still has to be followed.”

“When people witness a crime or think they may have witnessed a crime, they usually respond confidentially to a police appeal for information and may wish their identity to be kept secret as much as possible.”

“I would like to know how police aim to protect witnesses from attack when they have had their faces plastered all over a public website?” inquired Mr Churchill

“Surely, police resources need to targeted at the areas that the community has identified as a priority. I’d like to see such things as more police on the beat, better resourcing of Neighbourhood Watch schemes, and a more open, safer and well lit urban environment to help reduce crime.” Mr Churchill said.

“The ACT Democrats have long advocated public education about safety, greater co-operation and consultation between the police and the community, and improvements to police response times.” continued Mr Churchill.

“I’m not sure how violating privacy by an individual having their face plastered all over a Crimestoppers website helps public safety.” Mr Churchill concluded.

Darren Churchill
ACT Democrats President
Tel: 0412 196 473