Last Friday, the director of public prosecutions, Nick Cowdery AM QC, was the special guest speaker at a lunch hosted by the New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties. Under the title "Prosecutors Do Care about Human Rights - Really!", Cowdery QC discussed three key issues: human rights and the role of the prosecutor; victims of crime; and Australia's anti-terrorism legislation.
Cowdery spoke about the challenges facing prosecutors, and how these can be overcome.
"Prosecutors, by reason of their place and role in the criminal justice system, are in a particularly powerful position to protect human rights," he said.
"We all (including prosecutors) need to be alert to the erosion of rights and be proactive in preventing it."
He also spoke out about the operation of anti-terror laws in Australia, speaking out against the expansion of their jurisdiction into areas he described as "ordinary crime".
"The Crimes (Criminal Organisations Control) Act 2009 ["the Act"] became law with insufficient community consultation and over the deep concerns and protests of the NSW Bar Association, the NSW Law Society, academics, the CCL and many others.
"While both the State government and the opposition may be right that something more needs to be done about bikie gangs and criminal groups...this very troubling legislation (which in NSW borrows from related legislation in South Australia) is another giant leap backward for human rights and the separation of powers - in short, the rule of law in NSW."
Click here to read the full speech