Victoria's Charter of Human Rights is breached, and children and people with an intellectual disability are at risk, under the Federal Government's Control of Weapons Amendment Bill, according to the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV).
The LIV has supported the Human Rights Commissioner's concerns about the Bill and urged the Federal Government to withdraw it in order to allow for amendments to protect vulnerable people.
"Whilst the community needs to be protected from knife violence, the government has gone overboard with this Bill," said LIV president Steven Stevens.
The LIV referred to research which shows young people who carry knives for protection are generally not among those who actually commit violent knife offences.
"Children over the age of 16, and those with an intellectual disability, could be caught up in the net of those with criminal convictions if they exercise their right to go to court to challenge a fine for carrying a knife," said Stevens.
In such a case, it would be the responsibility of the person charged to prove they were carrying the knife for a lawful purpose.
The LIV also said the fine of $1000, if the person charged is found guilty, is too tough a penalty for young people who are not earning an income.
Stevens said the LIV is also concerned that the Bill "waters down" the rights of children and people with a disability to have an independent adult present during "unplanned" designated searches.
"The provision now says that any person, other than the member of the police force conducting the search, can supervise a search, which is not going to provide independent oversight as currently exists," he said.
"Parents and carers should be concerned about the possibility of their child being stopped, questioned by the police and searched in the presence of an unknown person, even going to and from school."
The LIV added that the Bill also removes the requirement for police to maintain records of those searched and extends the surprise knife search area to those such as train stations.
"We believe the current Bill contains draconian provisions that breach our Charter of Human Rights and should be withdrawn and reconsidered," said Stevens.
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