Joint Statement – Criminal Code Amendment (Prevention of Lawful Activity) Bill 2015

On behalf of our staff, members and communities we represent, we the undersigned organisations are gravely concerned by the Criminal Code Amendment (Prevention of Lawful Activity) Bill 2015 and the implications it has for advocates, activists and concerned citizens.

Our first concern is the criminalisation of protest. Australians have a long, proud history of peaceful demonstration, which has been instrumental in securing the rights that many of us now take for granted; the right to vote, to a fair wage for a fair day’s work, to a fair price for produce for farmers, and those longstanding campaigns to protect the beautiful places we love, from the Franklin River to the Ningaloo Reef.

We are concerned that the punishments defined in the bill, up to $24000 or 24 months’ imprisonment, will act as a deterrent to lawful and peaceful protests; inhibiting our ability and the ability of all Western Australians to stand up for the people, places and activities they love and to have their voices heard.

Secondly, reversing the onus of proof undermines the fundamental presumption of innocence. Concerned citizens taking political action should not be presumed to have criminal intent. We are concerned that the law is so broadly drafted as to be open to misuse. In criminalizing the possession of a “thing”, this law creates a very wide crime and is a threat to civil liberties.

Peaceful demonstration has played an important role in shaping our modern society and we foresee dire consequences of stifling the right to engage in such activity. We are calling on all our parliamentarians to oppose this bill in order to protect our fundamental rights and values.

Signed:

The Western Australian Farmers Federation

Community Legal Centres Association of Western Australia

Western Australian Council of Social Services (WACOSS)

Australian Lawyers For Human Rights

Centre for Human Rights Education, Curtin University

Oxfam Australia

The Anglican Social Responsibilities Commission, Anglican Diocese of Perth

The Justice, Ecology and Development Office (JEDO), Catholic Archdiocese of Perth

The Uniting Church in Western Australia

The Church of Christ, Wembley Downs

BaptistCare Support Services

Unions WA

Community Employers WA

AccordWest

National Tertiary Education Union

Electrical Trades Union of Western Australia

The Maritime Union of Australia

National Union of Students – WA Branch

Edith Cowan University (ECU) Student Guild

Curtin University Student Guild

The Conservation Council of Western Australia

Greenpeace Australia Pacific

Alliance for a Clean Environment

Save Helms Forest

Save Mowen Forest

Save Our Trees

The Wilderness Society WA

Margaret River Regional Environment Centre

Environs Kimberley

Australian Youth Climate Coalition

350.org Australia

Sea Shepherd Australia

Hands Off Point Peron

Gas Free South West WA

Grandmothers Against Removals WA

Aboriginal Heritage Action Alliance

Refugee Rights Action Network

People for Nuclear Disarmament

Nyoongar Tent Embassy

Anti Nuclear Alliance of WA

WA Forest Alliance

Justice for Reza Barati

The Anti-Bigotry Response Team

Socialist Alliance WA

No Shark Cull

No Fracking WAy

Stop Live Exports

West Australia Nuclear Free Alliance

Ban Uranium Mining Permanently (collective)

Animal Liberation WA

Defending Public Spaces

Counteract

Save Beeliar Wetlands

Fremantle Refugee Rights Action Network

Action for Human Rights Tamil Eelam Sri Lanka (AfHRTESL)

Frack Free Kimberley

Greens WA

Deaths in Custody Watch Committee

Busselton-Dunsborough Environment Centre Inc

Frack Free Geraldton

Friends of the Earth Australia

Transition Town Guildford

Socialist Alternative

Our Land Our Water Our Future Inc

FOODwatch

Animal Justice Party WA

Fremantle Environmental Resource Network

Carnamah Landcare

Coalition for the Protection of Racehorses

Fremantle Road to Rail

Equal Love WA

WA Labor

Lock the Gate Alliance

Urban Bushland Council WA Inc

Youth Affairs Council of Western Australia (YACWA)

Friends of Palestine

Environment House

The Perth Metro Transition Town Network

The Environmental Defender’s Office WA (Inc.)

No Recreational Hunting in WA (NRH WA).

Fremantle in Transition

Permaculture West

Denmark Friends of the Forest

Leighton Action Coalition Inc

Victoria Park Transition Network

Animal Rights Advocates Inc

Serco Watch

Hilton Action Community

Individuals are encouraged to sign the online petition: https://www.communityrun.org/petitions/stop-the-wa-laws-that-would-see-protesters-jailed