12 January 2012
Marlon Noble to be released from WA Prison
Marlon Noble, a mentally impaired West Australian man, is to be released after spending 10 years behind bars without a trial. Mr Noble was charged with child sex assault offences but did not face trial because he was deemed to be intellectually disabled.
Mr Noble’s lawyer Matthew Holgate “estimated that even if convicted, his client would have served about five years in prison. Instead, he spent eleven years in Greenough regional prison without trial”.
Despite Mr Noble’s imminent release, advocates and spokespeople have said that the conditions surrounding his release are too harsh. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commissioner and the Social Justice Commissioner have called for the criminal justice system to be more flexible in its treatment of people with disabilities.
Human Rights check for all new Federal laws
Australia’s new Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, has announced that all new laws will undergo a human rights check to ensure they are consistent with human rights obligations.
Ms Roxon has said that “Our focus is on ensuring that key principles of freedom, respect, equality, dignity and a fair go for all Australians are considered in everything the Commonwealth Parliament does”.
The Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 came into effect on 4 January 2012. The Act requires all news bills and disallowable legislative instruments to be accompanied by a statement of compatibility with human rights.
System of punishment and rewards in immigration detentions centres
The Age has reported that Serco, the company that runs immigrant detention centres, is using a system called the ‘Behaviour Management Plan’ to punish and reward detainees. The plan provides consequences for bad behaviour including relocation, exclusion from a specific activity or being reported to the Immigration Department. Despite the document obtained by The Age suggesting that such a system is in place, an Immigration spokesperson has denied that such a policy exists.
Australian to ease sanctions against Burma
Australia is set to ease sanctions against Burma despite calls from human rights campaigners that Australian should wait to see more extensive change before rewarding Burma’s military backed government. Zetty Drake from the Burma Campaign Australia has said that Australia’s announcement is out of step with the actions of the US, the UK and the European Union who have not yet relaxed sanctions. It is reported that while 200 political prisoners have been released, approximately 1500 remain behind bars.
Judge critices mandatory sentence for people smugglers
Brisbane District Court Judge Terry Martin has said that the five-year mandatory minimum sentence for people smugglers does not allow the courts any ability to consider offenders’ personal circumstances.
Judge Martin handed down the obligatory sentence on 11 January 2012 to Hasim, a 29-year-old poverty-stricken fisherman from Indonesia, yet believed that Hasim’s personal circumstances made him “as desperate and as vulnerable to exploitation as the refugees on his boat”.
Health not-for-profit organisations urged to include Aboriginal people in programs
The Heart Foundation WA (HFWA) has stated that in order to effectively reduce health disparities for Aboriginal people, proactive employment of Aboriginal people and dedicated culturally appropriate Aboriginal health programs are needed.
HFWA’s Coordinator of Aboriginal health, Lyn Dimer has said that “It is about integrating your program into the needs of the community and not the other way around”.
Previous programs that proved to be successful were implemented first by consulting and listening to the concerns of the Aboriginal community.
This report was compiled using the sources attributed in hyperlinks listed throughout. Don’t forget to tune in to Right Now Radio each Thursday at 6 pm on 3CR 855 AM to hear more human rights news. You can also stream live at www.3cr.org.au.