Protecting Rights in the Pandemic Seminar Series

Presented by the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law and the Transnational Criminal Law Group

Faculty of Law, Monash University, Victoria, Australia

Every Wednesday evening at 5.30pm in July

1 July, 8 July, 15 July, 22 July

For the protection of the life and health of the community from COVID-19, governments have introduced unprecedented controls over many aspects of the everyday lives of virtually all people.  Never before in peacetime have so many measures interfered with human rights in such fundamental ways.  At a time when serious questions are being raised about their impact upon the most vulnerable, this seminar series will critically examine the application of and justification for the measures from a human rights and criminal law perspective.  Considering the position of charged offenders and prisoners, temporary migrants and people exercising the right to protest, the speakers will ask important questions about the scope and nature of the control measures and how they can be reconciling with the rule of law.  The adequacy of existing legislative mechanisms for ensuring human rights protection and also governmental accountability will be questioned.

Session 1: Bail, Sentencing and Prisoners under COVID-19

To view this past event, click play on the video below:

Date: Wednesday, 1 July 2020
Time: 5.30pm to 6.30pm
Venue: Via online Zoom
Cost: Free
RSVP: Register here

Description

In March 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic because of the severity of the disease, and how rapidly it has spread across the world. This declaration had significant repercussions internationally and domestically. Governments around the world proceeded to implement a number of restrictions in an attempt to ‘flatten the curve’; a concept aimed at limiting the spread of the virus. The imposition of these restrictions has had a substantial effect on the criminal justice system in general, and for prisoners and prisons management in particular. In this seminar, Dr Natalia Antolak-Saper will consider the issue of COVID-19 in the context of decisions relating to remand – bail and sentencing; where the issue of the virus has been most pronounced. This will be followed by a presentation by Professors Lorana Bartels and Thalia Anthony who will discuss the challenges and lessons for prisons management from COVID-19.

Speakers

Topic: Bail and Sentencing

Dr Natalia Antolak-Saper, Transnational Criminal Law Group, Monash Law

Natalia Antolak-Saper is a Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Monash University. Natalia graduated from Monash University with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Criminology, and a Bachelor of Laws with First Class Honours. She completed her professional training with Lander & Rogers Lawyers, and was admitted to practice as a Barrister and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Victoria and of the High Court of Australia.

In 2012 she received an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship and commenced her PhD which examined the extent to which the media impacts upon sentencing policy. In 2017, she was a Visiting Scholar at the William and Mary Law School, Williamsburg, USA. She has published articles on diverse topics including directed verdicts, bail conditions, and gambling regulation. She teaches criminal law and trusts in the LLB and JD programs at Monash. Her research areas are in comparative criminal law and procedure with a particular focus on unrepresented accused, sentencing and the death penalty.

 

Topic: Prisoners

Professor Lorana Bartels, Criminology Program Leader, ANU Centre for Social Research and Methods

Dr Lorana Bartels’ expertise is in criminal law and criminology, especially sentencing, prison and the treatment of Indigenous peoples and women in the criminal justice system. She has undertaken projects on these issues for the Australian, ACT, Tasmanian and Victorian governments and Indigenous Justice Clearinghouse. She is the ACT representative on the After Prison Network and was previously Secretary of Prisoners Aid ACT. In March 2020, with Professor Anthony and others, Lorana penned two open letters to Australian governments, calling for the release of people in prisons and youth detention and safeguards to protect their human rights in the face of COVID-19.

Professor Thalia Anthony, Faculty of Law, University of Technology Sydney

Dr Thalia Anthony's expertise is in the areas of criminal law and procedure and Indigenous people and the law, with a particular specialisation in Indigenous rights and Indigenous community justice mechanisms.  Her research identifies the legacy of colonisation in the criminal justice system. She is undertaking several Australian Research Council projects relating to the criminal justice system, including on homelessness, sentencing Indigenous women, Aboriginal Community Justice Reports and Indigenous-designed safety strategies.  Her research is community-led and informed by fieldwork in Indigenous communities and partnerships with Indigenous legal organisations in Australia and overseas. In 2016, Thalia set up Sista2Sista – a support network for Aboriginal women in prison as part of a research project on criminal sentencing processes for Aboriginal women. Her leading research contribution is published in Indigenous People, Crime and Punishment (Routledge, 2013) and Decolonising Criminology (with Harry Blagg, Palgrave, 2019). In March 2020 with Professor Bartels, Thalia penned an open letter calling for the release of people in prisons and youth detention and safeguards to protect their human rights in the face of COVID-19.

Moderator

Professor the Hon. Kevin Bell AM QC
Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash Law

Session 2: Temporary Migrants as a Vulnerable Group under COVID-19

To view this past event, please click play on the video below:

Date: Wednesday, 8 July 2020
Time: 5.30pm to 6.30pm
Venue: Via online Zoom
Cost: Free
RSVP: Register here

Description

This session focuses on the human rights of migrants. The pandemic has left many groups of migrants in particularly precarious positions. Temporary migrant workers who have lost their livelihoods have been largely excluded from the federal government’s support package and are exposed to a number of economic and health risks. Migrants held in immigration detention are particularly vulnerable to further harms due to detention conditions and their existing exclusion from systems of assistance. This session examines these issues in light of Australia’s international human rights obligations.

Speakers

Topic: COVID-19 and Temporary Migrants

Associate Professor Heli Askola, Monash Law

Dr Heli Askola is an Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law at Monash University. Her research focuses on the human rights of migrants and the legal governance of global migration, with a particular emphasis on gendered abuse and exploitative forms of migration. She has published widely in these areas and provided legal advice on human trafficking, migration and citizenship to various international institutions.

Topic:  Challenging Immigration Detention Using the Right to Health Under COVID-19

David Manne, Refugee Legal

David Manne is a human rights lawyer and Executive Director of Refugee Legal. He has worked in various capacities assisting refugees and asylum seekers for over 20 years. Since 2001 he has lead Refugee Legal’s legal teams in successfully arguing 10 out of 10 landmark High Court challenges.

David sat on the Board of the Refugee Council of Australia and currently sits on the Victorian Foundation for Survivors of Torture Ethics Committee and the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness Advisory Board.  He has been appointed to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees Advisory Board of Eminent Persons.  He is regularly invited to present at the UN High Commissioner's Dialogue on Protection Challenges.

David has been the recipient of numerous prestigious awards and is frequently named as one of Australia’s leading immigration lawyers in the Australian edition of Best Lawyers.

 

Moderator

Professor Liz Campbell
Francine V McNiff Chair of Criminal Jurisprudence

Session 3: Protest and Policing under COVID-19

To view this past event, please click play on the video below:

Date: Wednesday, 15 July 2020
Time: 5.30pm to 6.30pm
Venue: Via online Zoom
Cost: Free
RSVP: Register here

Description

This session will examine the way in which the Covid laws have been implemented in practice and will focus on two particularly concerning issues: the impact upon the right of persons to protest and the breadth of discretion given to police in enforcing the Covid directives.

The Covid laws present particular challenges to human rights due to the amount of discretion they give to police officers – allowing police to hand out significant fines and arrest people simply for being out in public. A key problem is that the Covid laws often use open-ended and vague terms to describe offences and sanctions.

This seminar will examine the serious implications this may have for key human rights such as freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.

Speakers

Topic: The Right to Protest in a Pandemic

Dr Maria O'Sullivan, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash Law

Maria is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law, Monash University and a Member of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law. Maria is the author of a number of international and national publications on the subject of human rights and refugee law. Her latest publications  include a paper examining the public law implications of technology (forthcoming in the UNSW Law Journal ) and a monograph on refugee protection: Refugee Law and Durability of Protection: Temporary Residence and Cessation of Status (Routledge, 2019). In 2018, she edited a special issue of the Monash University Law Review on the Law of Protest and is  continuing research work on this issue, including work on a project on the law of protest with Castan Centre colleagues.

Topic: Vagueness, Discretion and Policing under COVID-19

Professor Liz Campbell, Monash Law

Professor Liz Campbell is the inaugural Francine V McNiff Chair in Criminal Jurisprudence at Monash University. Her research focuses on how the law responds to sophisticated, profit-driven crime, both by otherwise legitimate corporate entities as well as networks of organised crime. Another strand of her research looks at the use of biometrics in investigation and prosecution, and she is a member of the UK Home Office Biometrics and Forensics Ethics Group. Her research has been funded by the Research Council UK’s Partnership for Conflict, Crime and Security, the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Law Foundation of New Zealand, the Fulbright Commission, the Modern Law Review, and the Carnegie Trust.

Dr Faith Gordon, Lecturer in Criminology, School of Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Monash University

Dr Faith  Gordon is Lecturer in Criminology at Monash University and an Associate Research Fellow at the Information Law & Policy Centre, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, London.  Faith is also Director of the Interdisciplinary Youth Justice Network.  She has expertise in youth justice; media representations; children’s rights; criminal law; media regulation and privacy law.  She has recently published on the topics of lifelong anonymity and pre-charge identification of minors in the digital age.  Her research on police release of children’s images has been referred to by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (2015) and in the UK Court of Appeal (2019).

Moderator

Dr Natalia Antolak-Saper
Transnational Criminal Law Group, Monash Law

Session 4: Legislation, Governance and Accountability under COVID-19

Date: Wednesday, 22 July 2020
Time: 5.30pm to 6.30pm
Venue: Via online Zoom
Cost: Free
RSVP: Register here

Description

The stay-at-home, no-work and other measures were introduced under COVID-19 through statutory directives that (in most jurisdictions) did not require public, certified human rights clearance.  Changes to the operation of judicial systems were introduced by legislation that (in Victoria, the ACT and Queensland) did require that clearance, but did the legislation go too far?  This session examines the adequacy of our systems for democratic oversight of the COVID-19 measures and how they might be reformed.

Speakers

Topic: Human Rights, Governance and Oversight Mechanisms under COVID-19

Professor the Hon. Kevin Bell AM QC
Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash Law

Professor the Hon Kevin Bell AM QC is the Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law in the Faculty of Law at Monash University. He was a justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria for fifteen years and wrote a number of leading judgments under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights, including Kracke, Patrick’s Case and PBU and NJE.  He was president of the Forensic Leave Panel and president of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal.  Before becoming a judge, Professor Bell was for twenty years a barrister and Queens Counsel with a national practise in human rights and administrative, native tile and constitutional law. He has a Master of Studies in International Human Rights Law from Oxford University and in 2017 was awarded the honour of Member of the Order of Australia for ‘significant service to the law and to the judiciary, to native title and human rights, and the community’.

Topic: The Victorian COVID-19 Omnibus Legislation and Lost Opportunities

Professor Felicity Gerry QC, International Queen's Counsel, London and Melbourne, Professor of Legal Practice

Professor Felicity Gerry QC works internationally and recently defended three major terrorism trials in Melbourne. Admitted to the list of counsel for the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Kosovo Specialist Chambers (KSC) in The Hague, in England & Wales and in Victoria, she specialises in serious and complex criminal trials and appeals, often with an international or human rights element. Felicity is also Professor of Legal Practice at Deakin University where she lectures on Contemporary International Legal Challenges including modern slavery, terrorism, war crimes and climate change law. During lockdown, she co-led an open letter to government on prisons and co-authored the Quick Reference Guide to Emergency Laws published by Lexis Nexis.

Moderator

Dr Maria O’Sullivan
Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash Law