Police powers: prevention orders could set up ‘rival justice system’ in NSW

Paul Farrell
www.theguardian.com
14 April 2016

Bar Association warns against proposal that would ban employment and restrict movement of people without them being found guilty of an offence

PolicePowers
The bill would give New South Wales police similar powers to those they have to seek and impose control orders on terrorism suspects. Photograph: Jonny Weeks for the Guardian

New police powers that could see citizens in New South Wales face bans on their employment, restrictions on movement and curfews without ever having committed an offence would set up a “rival criminal justice system” and should be scrapped, the New South Wales Bar Association has warned.

The NSW government has sought to introduce new powers called serious crime prevention orders.

The bill would give police similar powers to those they have to seek and impose control orders on terrorism suspects – but they could be applied to all citizens in NSW who are alleged to have some proximity or involvement to a serious crime, without a person ever being found guilty of an offence.

They would allow orders to be made on any citizen restricting their movement, who they associate with, who they work for and whether they can access the internet.

Even when a person is acquitted of a criminal offence police could still seek such an order.

The penalty for breaching an order could be up to five years’ imprisonment or a $33,000 fine for an individual, or $165,000 for a corporation.

In a scathing submission the NSW Bar Association criticised the government’s limited consultation with legal groups and its attempt to rush the bill through NSW parliament.

“No evidence has been cited as to the ineffectiveness of the administration of criminal justice by a process of trial for ‘reducing serious and organised crime’ in New South Wales,” the submission said.

“The bill effectively sets up a rival to the criminal trial system and interferes unacceptably in the fundamental human rights and freedoms of citizens of NSW.”

It said the government had failed to explain why the powers should be expanded in a manner “so contradictory to long-settled principles concerning the adjudication of criminal guilt by a fair trial”.

The police minister, Troy Grant, has said that the measures would provide law enforcement agencies with a more effective means of reducing serious and organised crime by targeting business dealings and restricting suspects’ behaviour.

Under the new provisions, the NSW police, the NSW Crime Commission and the NSW director of public prosecutions could seek orders from a judge, who must be satisfied there are “reasonable grounds” it would protect the public by restricting or preventing serious crime-related activity.

But the bar association said it was unclear why the laws were needed. While they could be applied to individuals who had been convicted of a serious criminal offence, they would also be applicable to behaviour that was considered “serious crime-related activity” without an offence needing to be proven.

The orders could also be sought on the basis of hearsay and other forms of tendency evidence that would normally be inadmissible in a normal criminal trial.

The bar association warned that the laws posed an unacceptable interference with citizens; right to freedom of expression, association and privacy. They also noted that the orders were of “doubtful constitutional validity”.

“Whatever be the fate of the legislation it can be said with confidence that very grave issues are raised by its prospect and that our high court will give them the attention they deserve,” the association said.

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Posted on April 16, 2016, in ConspiracyOz Posts. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thx to Winston Smith for this Article – Mick Raven

    Like

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