CLANT accused of having formerly been venerable

An article on the Crikey website headed "NT Police go the Thumper: Losing the war against grog and crime" characterises CLANT as having been "once venerable".  In our outraged response, we say:

The “once venerable” Criminal Lawyers Association of the Northern Territory (CLANT) rejects the scandalous imputation that we were ever venerated...

Notwithstanding this slur, CLANT welcomes this opportunity to engage in the cut and thrust of policy debate afforded by Crikey's anonymous blogger.

CLANT calls for restricted Police Pursuit policy

CLANT has made this submission to the NT Commissioner of Police for the reform of the current General Order regulating police pursuits.  CLANT proposes that a restricted pursuit policy similar to those in force in Tasmanaia and Queensland be introduced.

CLANT submission to review of Bail Act

CLANT has made this submission to the review of the Bail Act NT being undertaken at the initiative of the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice.  CLANT supports a general presumption in favour of bail, and the repeal of the offence of breaching bail.

Information sessions on Criminal Law Reform issues

In March 2013, the Department of the Attorney-General and Justice presented a series of Information Sessions on current Northern Territory law reform issues.  Although CLANT does not support all of the recent and proposed reforms, we congratulate the Department on taking the initiative to inform the profession and the community of what lies in store. 

If you missed the session conducted in your area, you can catch up by reading the attached Powerpoint presentation (reproduced by permission of DoA-G&J).

The Serious Sex Offenders Act (2013): a serious mistake

CLANT deplores the passage of the Serious Sex Offenders Act 2013 (NT) by the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly on 26 March 2013.

CLANT's concerns about the Act are summarised in this document.

Similar legislation has been found by the United Nations Human Rights Committee to violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as detailed in this article by Professor Bernadette McSherry, first published in October 2012 in Precedent, the journal of the Australian Lawyers Alliance (reprinted with the kind permission of the author and the Australian Lawyers Alliance).

Bali Conference Program out now!

The program for CLANT's 14th Biennial Conference is now available.

We are delighted to announce that our two Keynote Speakers will be:

  • Trevor Riley, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory; and
  • Melinda Taylor, an Australian defence lawyer with the International Criminal Court based in The Hague, who in 2012 travelled to Libya to confer with a client, where she was detained by the Libyan authorities.

The conference will be opened by the Hon. John Elferink MLA, Northern Territory Attorney-General and Minister for Justice. 

In addition to papers on general criminal law issues, the conference theme of "Victims of the System" will be explored in sessions delaing with the following five sub-themes:

  • Women as Victims                                         
  • Prisoners as Victims                                      
  • Off-shore Arrivals as Victims                    
  • Young People as Victims                             
  • Lawyers as Victims

Amongst those delivering papers at the conference will be a broad and eminent selection of judicial officers and legal practitioners, both from the Northern Territory and other jurisdictions; Howard Bath, the Northern Territory Children's Commissioner; and experts from allied professions, including criminology and psychiatry.  







Making Justice Work

CLANT supports the Making Justice Work campaign and endorses the campaign's February 2013 Position Statement.

"Prescribed minimum mandatory sentences are the very antithesis of just sentences"

CLANT has criticised the Northern Territory's new mandatory sentencing laws as unfair, unprincipled, unworkable, unnecessary and unaffordable.

Amendments to the Sentencing Act (NT) were passed in the Territory Parliament on 14 February 2013, allowing for mandatory sentencing of certain categories of violent offenders.

President Russell Goldflam predicted that the laws would see more people, the great majority of them Aboriginal, going to gaol, although he expressed relief that the Attorney-General had at least provided exceptional circumstances provisions.

Mr Goldflam expressed particular sadness that this legislation was passed on the eve of the Ceremonial Sittings to farewell Justice Mildren on the occasion of his retirement after 21 years as a judge of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory. 

Mildren J, a CLANT Life Member, has been a strong critic of mandatory sentencing both on and off the bench. In a media interview, he recently described mandatory sentencing as a "cancer". His powerful and precise obiter inTrenerry v Bradley (1997) 6 NTLR 175 have been frequently cited: “prescribed minimum mandatory sentences are the very antithesis of just sentences”.

For further details, see this article at ABC News Online 15 February 2013.

2013 Bali Conference Registration now open

14th-CLANT-Conference-posterOn-line registration for our Fourteenth Biennial Conference, on the theme "Victims of the System", from 22 to 29 June 2013, is now open here at the website of our Conference organisers, Solusi Business Solutions.  The Conference will be held at our traditional venue, the gracious Bali Hyatt in Sanur.  Book your flights now and save:  Darwin to Denpasar fares are currently available for about $500 return. 

Don't be a victim of the system!  Register early, and avoid disappointment.


Click on REGISTER NOW to register for the conference and reserve your accommodation at the Bali Hyatt. Please note that Solusi  Business Solutions, our  conference organisers, have secured rooms in all categories.


Judicial (et al) appointments

CLANT welcomes the appointment on 17 December 2012 of:

  • Graham Hiley QC as a Justice of the Supreme Court of the Northern Territory
  • Wojciech Jacek ('Jack') Karczewski QC as the Northern Territory Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Sally Sievers as Northern Territory Anti-Discrimination Commissioner
  • Elizabeth ('Libby') Armitage as a Northern Territory stipendiary magistrate

Two of these appointees, Jack Karczewski and Libby Armitage, have been long-serving active members of and contributers to CLANT.  At the time of her appointment, Libby was our Vice-President, and her presence on the Committee will be sorely missed.

    The return of mandatory sentencing

    On 6 November 2012, the Northern Territory Department of the Attorney-General and Justice published details of the Northern Territory Government's current program of criminal law reform in this 'Consultation' document.

    CLANT welcomes the commencement of the Evidence (National Uniform Legislation) Act 2011 on 1 January 2013.  We also acknowledge the substantial improvements which have been made to the "one punch homicide" legislation.

    However, CLANT strongly opposes the Criminal Code Amendment (Assaults on Workers) Bill 2012 and the Sentencing Amendment (Mandatory Minimum Sentences) Bill 2012.  In his Second Reading Speech, the Attorney-General spoke robustly about the need for a “clear message”, “genuine gaol time” and “tougher sentences”. If passed, these Bills will see the return of laws akin to the Territory's notorious and discredited mandatory sentencing scheme of the 1990s, which proved to be so harsh, unfair, ineffective and costly.  Read our pdfmedia release dated 15 November 2012 on this issue.

    CLANT also opposes the Serious Sex Offenders Bill 2012, which is based on similar indefinite detention provisions enacted in some other Australian jurisdictions which have been found by the United Nations Human Rights Committee to violate the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as detailed in pdfthis article by Professor Bernadette McSherry, first published in October 2012 in Precedent, the journal of the Australian Lawyers Alliance (reprinted with the kind permission of the author and the Australian Lawyers Alliance).

    Chief Justice speaks out on alcohol

    In October 2012 at Alice Springs, Riley CJ, while sentencing offenders convicted of serious alcohol-related offences, commented in each case on the need for effective alcohol measures.  These comments were made in the context of the abolition of the Banned Drinkers Register by the newly elected Northern Territory Government, and renewed debate about what to do about grog.  Here (with emphasis added) is what the Chief Justice said. In March 2013 at Alice Springs, in the course of sentencing Peter Delano Hudson (SCC 21237010), Riley CJ made the following further strong comments in a similar vein:

    The courts have been speaking out for years requesting that the problem be addressed. One obvious step to be taken would be to limit the flow of alcohol to people such as yourself. Regrettably, based upon my experience in the courts, the situation is getting worse rather than improving. It is unfortunate and terribly sad, that genuine efforts to curb the flow of alcohol that could address the problems of those who suffer from abuse of alcohol are not pursued.

    CLANT respectfully agrees.

    Titus Ani

    Titus Ani is a Nigerian national who has been on death row in Kerobokan Prison, Denpasar, Bali for over 8 years following his conviction on drugs charges.  A pro bono team of Australian lawyers, including CLANT's Colin McDonald QC, is currently preparing his case for extraordinary judicial review in Indonesia's Supreme Court, with the object of having his sentence commuted to a term of imprisonment.  Mr Ani's legal team considers that his case has merit, with reasonable prospects of success.  In addition, it could set a precedent which would lead to the lives of many other similarly circumstanced condemned prisoners in Indonesia being saved.

    CLANT has previously donated $10,000 to meet some of the expenses in this case, and on 5 November 2012, following consultation with Members, the CLANT Committee resolved to commit a further $20,000.  For further information, please read:

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