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Australians at risk of mandatory sentencing provisions in Border Protection legislation.

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19 September 2001

Australians at Risk of Mandatory Sentencing Provisions in Border Protection Legislation

Greens Senator Bob Brown says he will move to remove the mandatory sentencing provisions in the Government’s ‘Border Protection’ legislation introduced yesterday.

“Mandatory sentencing is being introduced for the first time in any Commonwealth law,” Senator Brown said.

“It is not just people smugglers who are likely to be caught by these provisions. People liable to subject to mandatory sentencing include anyone who ‘facilitates’ the coming to Australia of a group of 5 or more [unauthorised] people.

“A whole range of Australian citizens including church representatives who might, as in the past, give comfort and shelter to asylum seekers in Australia, would face 5- 8 years in jail.

“On top of this the Australian Council of Civil Liberties has pointed out that it is not just people smugglers who will be subject to the mandatory sentencing provisions relating to the providing of misleading information.

“Incoming boat refugees must be sentenced to at least 5 years in jail if found guilty of providing any misleading information to immigration officials.

“The ALP has previously spoken out against mandatory sentencing but political weakness and lake of leadership has seen them cave in to Mr Howard. Just last year Mr Beazley said: Mandatory sentencing breaches both international human rights provisions as well as longstanding common law principles. ….In making no distinction between trivial and serious culpability, mandatory sentencing breaches the fundamental common law principle of proportionality, which requires that the particular circumstances of an offence and an offender need to be taken into account in the process of sentencing. - Kim Beazley - on the 10/4/2000

Senator Brown will today introduce a motion to refer the Government’s legislation to a Senate Committee for report by October 22.

Further information: Ben Oquist 02 62773170 or 0419 704095