Countering Terrorism Will Lead to More Bail Reforms

By Rhanda Taouk

The Federal and State Governments in Australia are increasingly focused on measures to counter an ‘evolving terrorist threat’. In NSW, for example, the Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Police Powers and Parole) Bill 2017 (NSW) was introduced in June 2017 in response to recommendations made by the ‘State Coroner of NSW Inquest into the deaths arising from the Lindt Café – Findings and Recommendations’ (Inquest report). Coroner Michael Barnes recommended that the Government consider legislative changes to ensure that police have the necessary protections to resolve terrorist incidents in a manner most likely to minimise risk to the public (recommendation 24; p. 324). The Premier announced that the legislation was to provide certainty for police to use lethal force against terrorists.

In October 2017, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) agreed that a number of measures be implemented as part of a nationally-consistent approach to prevent the threat of terrorism. These included changes to Commonwealth legislation, including a new Commonwealth offence for those who possess instructional terrorist material, a specific ‘terrorism hoax offence’ to deter hoaxes which have the potential to cause significant alarm and disruption to the community, and the enhancement of the existing commonwealth pre-charge detention regime under Part 1C of the Crimes Act 1914 (Cth).

The COAG also noted that progress had been made in States’ respective High Risk Terrorist Offenders schemes, in which such offenders may be detained after the completion of their sentences. Relevantly, on 30 November 2017, the NSW Government assented to the Terrorism (High Risk Offenders) Bill 2017 (NSW), complementing the existing Commonwealth scheme (which was outlined in Emma Bayley’s post in December 2016).  An exploration of the latest amendments is however beyond the scope of this post.

This post, however, focuses on a change COAG recommended be implemented at a State Government level, namely a presumption against bail for persons who have demonstrated support, or have links to, terrorist activity. Focusing on NSW, this post considers the change may go too far and deviates from the purpose of bail, which is to preserve the innocence of the accused (and balance liberty against community and safety considerations) until they are formally tried. Continue reading “Countering Terrorism Will Lead to More Bail Reforms”

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Have we lost sight of the purpose of bail?*

By Raffaele Piccolo

*Originally published in Amicus September 2016 edition.

The purpose of bail is to preserve the integrity of the criminal justice system, by securing an accused person’s attendance at their trial, and avoiding interference with the course of justice (ie through an accused person’s contact with or intimidation of, a witness or victim). The decision of whether to grant bail ultimately requires an assessment of risk; the risk that an accused person’s being at liberty poses to the preservation of the criminal justice system. Consistent with the presumption of innocence and the general right of persons to be at liberty, an accused person’s right to liberty will only be interfered with (with the imposition of bail conditions or denial of bail) to the extent strictly necessary to give effect to the purpose of bail. The Bail Amendment Act 2014 (NSW) and the Bail Amendment Act 2015 (NSW) throw these basic propositions into doubt, and indicate that we have lost sight of the purpose of bail. Continue reading “Have we lost sight of the purpose of bail?*”

From Sex and Violence to Terrorism: Comparing the NSW and Commonwealth continuing detention schemes*

By Emma Bayley**

*Originally published in Amicus December 2016 edition.

**Senior Solicitor, Crown Solicitor’s Office. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Crown Solicitor.

 

Many practitioners will have seen recent media reports about the new Commonwealth scheme for continued detention of high risk terrorist offenders beyond the expiry of their sentences.

The Commonwealth scheme for terrorist offenders passed both houses on 1 December 2016. The NSW scheme has been around for some time now, since 2006 for sex offenders and since 2013 for violent offenders. It is now a good time to compare the two schemes. The NSW scheme is found in a stand alone Act, the Crimes (High Risk Offenders) Act 2006 (“the NSW Act”), whereas the Commonwealth scheme will be inserted as a new Division 105A into Part 5.3 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Continue reading “From Sex and Violence to Terrorism: Comparing the NSW and Commonwealth continuing detention schemes*”

A better approach to bail for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

by Lisa Stone

Twenty-five years ago the Royal Commission into Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Deaths in Custody (‘RCIADC’) made recommendations on arrest and bail. In particular, it recommended that arrest is a measure of last resort, that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be consulted on every application regarding bail and bail conditions, and that bail conditions should not be used to impose views of what police or courts consider to be ‘an appropriate life style.’1

Most of those recommendations were never implemented. Meanwhile, the NSW penal system is currently experiencing its greatest overcrowding ever. BOCSAR notes that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment is more than 45 per cent higher than it was at the time of the RCIADC and 73.5% of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in custody are there as a result of breaching court orders and bail conditions.

Continue reading “A better approach to bail for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people”