Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Illegal Detention of Australian Journalists (Free Julian Assange) Bill 2021

2019-2020-2021

 

The Parliament of the

Commonwealth of Australia

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

Presented and read a first time

 

 

 

 

Illegal Detention of Australian Journalists (Free Julian Assange) Bill 2021

 

No.      , 2021

 

(Mr Christensen)

 

 

 

A Bill for an Act relating to the detention of Australian journalists by foreign governments, and for related purposes

   

   

   



Contents

1............ Short title............................................................................................ 1

2............ Commencement.................................................................................. 1

3............ Definitions.......................................................................................... 2

4............ Offence of detaining Australians for legitimate journalistic activities 3

5............ Release from Australian custody........................................................ 5

6............ Transitional provisions....................................................................... 5

 



A Bill for an Act relating to the detention of Australian journalists by foreign governments, and for related purposes

The Parliament of Australia enacts:

1   Short title

                   This Act is the Illegal Detention of Australian Journalists (Free Julian Assange) Act 2021 .

2   Commencement

             (1)  Each provision of this Act specified in column 1 of the table commences, or is taken to have commenced, in accordance with column 2 of the table. Any other statement in column 2 has effect according to its terms.

 

Commencement information

Column 1

Column 2

Column 3

Provisions

Commencement

Date/Details

1.  The whole of this Act

The 28th day after this Act receives the Royal Assent.

 

Note:          This table relates only to the provisions of this Act as originally enacted. It will not be amended to deal with any later amendments of this Act.

             (2)  Any information in column 3 of the table is not part of this Act. Information may be inserted in this column, or information in it may be edited, in any published version of this Act.

3   Definitions

                   In this Act:

detained includes:

                     (a)  arrested; and

                     (b)  imprisoned.

engage in conduct means:

                     (a)  do an act; or

                     (b)  omit to perform an act.

foreign country includes a part of a foreign country.

journalism includes publishing.

journalistic activity includes the following conduct:

                     (a)  conduct engaged in:

                              (i)  in the ordinary course of journalism; or

                             (ii)  for the purposes of journalistic endeavours;

                     (b)  receiving information as a journalist, including as mentioned in the definition of journalist in section 126J of the Evidence Act 1995 ;

                     (c)  requesting information as a journalist;

                     (d)  publishing information received as a journalist.

legitimate journalistic activity means journalistic activity that would not be an offence against a law of the Commonwealth or of a State or Territory if engaged in in that State or Territory.

requests includes encourages, incites, procures or pressures.

4   Offence of detaining Australians for legitimate journalistic activities

             (1)  A person commits an offence if:

                     (a)  the person is the head of government of a foreign country; and

                     (b)  the government of the foreign country:

                              (i)  detains an Australian citizen; or

                             (ii)  requests the government of another foreign country to detain an Australian citizen;

                            because of legitimate journalistic activity engaged in, or allegedly engaged in, by the Australian citizen.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 7 years.

             (2)  A person commits an offence if:

                     (a)  the person is the head of government of a foreign country; and

                     (b)  the government of another foreign country requests the government of the foreign country mentioned in paragraph (a) to detain an Australian citizen; and

                     (c)  the government of the other foreign country makes the request because of legitimate journalistic activity engaged in, or allegedly engaged in, by the Australian citizen; and

                     (d)  the government of the foreign country mentioned in paragraph (a) detains the Australian citizen because of the request.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 7 years.

             (3)  For the purposes of paragraphs (1)(b) and (2)(c) and (d), the reason for which a government detains, or requests the detention of, an Australian citizen must be determined by reference to the real and underlying cause of the detention or request rather than by the legal form employed.

Example:    Journalists are often arrested on the basis of charges of espionage or for other spurious, political reasons when the real reason for their detention is their journalistic activities.

             (4)  For the purposes of subparagraph (1)(b)(i), if:

                     (a)  an Australian citizen is detained for contravening, or allegedly contravening a law that is ancillary to another law; and

                     (b)  the other law relates to conduct engaged in, or allegedly engaged in, by the Australian citizen; and

                     (c)  that conduct is legitimate journalistic activity;

the detention is taken to be because of the legitimate journalistic activity.

Example:    An Australian citizen is charged with engaging in conduct that constitutes legitimate journalistic activity. He or she is released on bail, but is subsequently arrested for not complying with a conduction of that bail. For the purposes of subparagraph (1)(b)(i), the Australian citizen is taken to be detained for engaging in the legitimate journalistic activity rather than for breaching the bail conduction.

             (5)  To avoid doubt, for the purposes of this section, conduct engaged in by:

                     (a)  an agent of a government; or

                     (b)  another person acting on behalf of, on the orders of, or under the authority of, a government;

is taken to be engaged in by the government.

Example:    A private security company engaged by a government.

             (6)  Section 15.4 of the Criminal Code (Extended geographical jurisdiction—category D) applies to an offence against subsection (1) or (2) of this section.

5   Release from Australian custody

             (1)  If:

                     (a)  an Australian citizen is detained as described in subsection 4(1) or (2); and

                     (b)  the Australian citizen is transferred to the custody of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory (for example, in accordance with the International Transfer of Prisoners Act 1997 );

the Commonwealth, the State or the Territory must immediately release the Australian citizen from custody.

             (2)  Subsection (1) does not apply if the reasons the Australian citizen person is held in custody by Commonwealth, the State or the Territory include an offence, or an alleged offence, against a law of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory.

6   Transitional provisions

             (1)  If an Australian citizen:

                     (a)  was detained as mentioned in subsection 4(1) or (2) before the commencement of this Act; and

                     (b)  was not released from that detention before that commencement;

then, for the purposes of section 4, the Australian citizen is taken to be detained as mentioned in that section on that commencement.

             (2)  For the purposes of this Act, conduct engaged in by Julian Paul Assange for the purposes of WikiLeaks before the commencement of this Act is legitimate journalistic activity .

             (3)  Section 5 applies to an Australian citizen who:

                     (a)  was transferred to the custody of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory before the commencement of this Act and was not released from custody before that commencement; or

                     (b)  was transferred to the custody of the Commonwealth, a State or a Territory on or after the commencement of this Act.