Amnesty International Report on Indigenous Youth Incarceration

Amnesty International has published A Brighter Tomorrow: Keeping Indigenous Kids in the Community and out of Detention in Australia (Summary Report).  Here is the Full Report.  

Key recommendations include the setting of setting of justice targets to Close the Gap, the abolition of mandatory sentencing for children, and a commitment to justice reinvestment.

The Report finds that "youth detention conditions in the Northern Territory do not appear to comply with [the] international human rights standards" set out in the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Justice Legislation Amendment (Summary Procedure) Bill 2015

CLANT has lodged this submission in response to the Justice Legislation Amendment (Summary Procedure) Bill 2015 (NT), details of which are set out in this powerpoint presentation prepared by and published with permission of the Northern Territory Department of Justice and the Attorney-General.

New Youth Detention Crackdown Not the Answer

CLANT endorses this statement issued on 2 June 2015 by the Making Justice Work coalition, calling on the Northern Territory Government to urgently:

  1. establish purpose-built detention facilities in Darwin and Alice Springs for the Northern Territory’s most vulnerable children and young people, or, alternatively, upgrade the former Don Dale youth detention centre to an acceptable contemporary standard;
  2. publicly release the previous Children’s Commissioner’s independent investigation into youth detention; and
  3. establish an Independent Custodial Inspector (such as exists in Western Australia) who has unfettered access to youth detention centres to ensure national and international standards are being complied with.

changetherecord.org.au

The national Change the Record campaign aims to reduce the unacceptably high rates of violent victimisation and incarceration of Indigenous people.  

Visit their spiffy website to see the twelve smart solutions they are proposing.

CLANT: step up and get involved!

CLANT seeks expressions of interest from members to serve on our Committee.  The Committee currently meets monthly.  Besides being responsible for organising our biennial conference, the Committee deals with a broad range of policy and law reform issues, responds to requests for financial assistance to support a variety of causes and cases, is responsible for compliance by the Association with its statutory obligations, and organises occasional social activities.

CLANT's committee members and office bearers are elected for a two year term by the members at a biennial General Meeting, but casual vacancies arise on the Committee from time to time, and the Committee is empowered under our Constitution to appoint replacements.  Recently, following the resignations of Madeleine Rowley and James Tierney from the Committee, we appointed Beth Morrisroe (CAALAS) and Isabella Maxwell-Williams (ODPP) as Committee members.

Fortunately, we currently have a full complement of hard-working and enthusiastic Committee members, from both sides of the bar table, and all sectors of the profession.

Nevertheless, we expect that vacancies will continue to arise, and the Committee invites members who would be willing to join the Committee to register your interest with us by contacting a Committee member.

Vale Pat Loftus

Loftus

Patrick Loftus, one of the founders of CLANT, has died in Hong Kong, aged 70.  Pat practiced in Darwin from the 1970s, and successively headed the Darwin office of the Crown Solicitor for the Northern Territory (now ODPP) and the Australian Legal Aid Office (now NTLAC), before going on to establish the firm Loftus and Cameron. He won the sobriquet “Loopholes” (or “Loopy”) for his peculiar knack of identifying legal lacunae to the benefit of his clients, and gained the respect of his colleagues as a master of the no case submission.  He served as an office-bearer of the Northern Territory Law Society on several occasions, and then in 1986 joined Colin McDonald QC and Ray Minahan as the joint founders and self-appointed inaugural interim committee of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the Northern Territory.  After an unsuccessful tilt at politics, when he failed in a bid to enter the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly, in 1988 he joined the Darwin bar, and went on, in 1997, to found Edmund Barton Chambers. 

By then he had already commenced to practice in the jurisdiction which he eventually made his home, Hong Kong, where in 1996 he had conducted the prosecution of the son of a police officer in a high-profile murder trial.  For some years, he simultaneously practiced and maintained homes in Darwin, Adelaide and Hong Kong, but eventually he relinquished his Australian clients and practiced exclusively in Hong Kong.  

As Hong Kong Director of Public Prosecutions Keith Yeung SC has commented:

Those of us who knew Pat would not forget that he was a conscientious but fair counsel who treated life seriously but at the same time with a good sense of humour… he was a gentleman to all around him … commanding the respect which he so rightly deserved.

We at CLANT send our condolences to Pat’s wife Peggy Lo, herself a Hong Kong prosecutor, and his daughters Katherine, Allyson and Susan.

Prison Songs

CLANT is proud to support the Darwin Festival multimedia live concert production of Prison Songs, which offers a rare glimpse into the lives of prison inmates shared through song.  Read more about Prison Songs and get your tickets here.

prisonsongs

 

Summary procedure reform: have your say

Although the Justice and Other Legislation (Summary Procedure) Bill 2015 (NT) has already been tabled (the Bill, Explanatory Statement and Second Reading Speech are available here), the Northern Territory Department of Justice is continuing its consultations with the profession regarding the reform of summary justice procedure.

The Department will conduct seminars in Alice Springs (19 May 2015) and Darwin (22 May 2015) to outline the key changes to be made by the Bill, and to take any suggestions or comments on operational or technical matters.  For further information, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

PS (31 May 2015):  CLANT has now had its say, here.

Plain English Legal Dictionary launched

In a joint project with Aboriginal Resource and Development Services (ARDS) and the North Australia Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA), the Northern Territory Aboriginal Interpreter Service has launched a “Plain English Legal Dictionary”.

The dictionary defines Northern Territory criminal legal terms using a style of English that closely matches the words, grammar, genre and structure of Aboriginal languages, and will be an invaluable resource for judicial officers, Aboriginal interpreters and legal professionals working with speakers of Aboriginal languages.

Indigenous Australians with mental health disorders and cognitive disabilities in Australian criminal justice system

The IAMHDCD (Indigenous Australians with mental health disorders and cognitive disabilities in Australian criminal justice system) Project is a large-scale community-based research study by the University of New South Wales. One of the principal research sites has been Alice Springs, where over 40 front-line workers from 22 services attended the recent launch of the next phase of the IAMHDCD Project.   

At the launch, there were calls for government to develop  a specific strategy to prevent people with cognitive impairments and mental health issues entering and re-entering the criminal justice system.

In a letter to to the Northern Territory Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, pdfCLANT has expressed its strong support for this initiative.

This is by no means a new issue for CLANT. The papers presented on this topic by CLANT members at both our 2013 and 2011 conferences are worth re-reading, both for their careful analysis and their sensible recommendations for reform.

Language and the Law II conference: Call for papers

Following the success of the first “Language and the Law” Conference in 2012, CLANT is proud to provide financial support to the second “Language and the Law” Conference, from 28 to 30 August 2015. 

Once again, the conference will be hosted by the Northern Territory Supreme Court, with an emphasis on issues that arise when interpreting languages spoken in the Northern Territory and similar issues that impact on communication in the courts and associated legal processes. 

Here are pdfmore details.  You can express interest in either pdfattending or pdfpresenting a paper

NAAJA challenges 'paperless arrests' in High Court

With the support of a pro bono team co-ordinated by the Human Rights Law Centre, the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency has commenced proceedings in the High Court challenging the validity of the Northern Territory's recently introduced "paperless arrest" provisions.  NAAJA has previously been critical of these laws, and so has CLANT.

The Bill that introduced the impugned provisions of the Police Administration Act (NT) (Part VII Division 4AA "Taking person into custody for infringement notice offence"), together with the associated Explantory Memorandum and Second Reading Speech, is here.

2015 Bali Conference Draft Program

The Bali conference organising committee is pleased to publish the draft pdfConference Program.    

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