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Letter to Minister Neville on the Serious Offenders Bill 2018

Letter to Minister Neville on the Serious Offenders Bill 2018

By Lara Freidin

Human Rights Sentencing 

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The LIV wrote to the Minister for Police, Lisa Neville on 4 June 2018 to outline its concerns with the provisions of the Serious Offenders Bill 2018, which was introduced to Victorian Parliament on 8 May 2018, passed the Legislative Assembly on 24 May 2018 and has not yet passed the Legislative Council.

The Serious Offenders Bill expands the current post-sentence regime in Victoria to provide that any adult who has ever been sentenced by the Supreme Court or County Court to any custodial sentence for an offence relating to non-vehicle homicide, non-negligent serious injury or kidnapping can be detained in prison without further charge or conviction.

The LIV is primarily concerned with the human rights implications of the provisions of this Bill that allow for ‘continuing’ or ‘post-sentence’ detention of persons that are already serving custodial sentences for serious violent offences. The LIV’s view is that the proposed measures are far broader than is necessary or proportionate to achieve the legitimate objective of protecting the community from serious violent harm.

In particular, the LIV is concerned that:

  • the Bill encounters practical difficulties, considering it is very difficult to predict violent offences;
  • the Bill provides for a civil standard of proof which is lower than the criminal standard of 'beyond reasonable doubt';
  • the Bill should be amended to allow the Court to order proper funding for the respondent's legal representation;
  • the Bill may unnecessarily restrict human rights and freedoms denoted in the Charter, including: the right to liberty and security of the person, the right to not be tried or punished more than once, and the prohibition against retrospective criminal laws; and
  • the Bill may unnecessarily restrict freedom from arbitrary detention under the ICCPR.

In order to ensure that the measures in this Bill are proportionate, the LIV submits that the scheme should be restricted to those who have been sentenced to a minimum term greater than seven years to reflect the seriousness of the particular offending.

You can read the LIV's letter to the Minister here (PDF).


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