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Legal bodies criticise anti-protest laws

Legal bodies criticise anti-protest laws

Nathan Kennedy

The NSW Bar Association and Australian Lawyers for Human Rights have voiced their concerns over new anti-protest legislation that is progressing through parliament.

The Inclosed Lands, Crimes and Law Enforcement Legislation Amendment (Interference) Bill 2016 has passed both houses of the NSW parliament, sparking legal bodies to voice their concerns over the Bill.

The NSW Bar Association has made a submission in relation to the legislation that will substantially limit the freedom of NSW residents to engage in public demonstrations and protests close to mine sites or exploration sites.

It will also limit protections for peaceful protests, increase police powers and raise penalties for certain protest actions.

The Bill creates a new offence of aggravated unlawful entry on inclosed lands, which was one of the key concerns raised by the NSW Bar Association in its submission.

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights president Nathan Kennedy said the organisation echoes the concerns raised by the NSW Bar Association.

“I query whether this legislation is even constitutional. The legislation may well limit the ability of individuals to engage in legitimate political communication, which is one of the few human rights protected under the Australian constitution,” Mr Kennedy said.

“ALHR considers this legislation to be inconsistent with Australia's obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees the right to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. These rights are fundamental to a healthy democracy.”

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