Impact of Human Rights Act on Criminal Matters in QLD
Adam Moschella – Criminal Lawyer at Potts Lawyers is a member of the Queensland Law Society Human Rights and Public Law Committee.
In this article, he draws attention to the potential impact on criminal law matters of the recent introduction of human rights laws in Queensland.
Brief History of the Human Rights Act in Australia
On 1 January 2020 the Human Rights Act 2019 came into force in Queensland. This makes our state one of only three jurisdictions in Australia to enact specific human rights legislation. The other jurisdiction being the Australian Capital Territory and Victoria.
The main objects of the Act are to protect and promote human rights, help build a culture in the Queensland public sector that respects and promotes human rights and to help promote a dialogue about the nature, meaning and scope of human rights.
Rights Protected by the Act
The Act protects 23 rights, specifically:-
- Recognition and equality before the law
- Right to life
- Protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
- Freedom from forced work
- Freedom of movement
- Freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief
- Freedom of expression
- Peaceful assembly and freedom of association
- Taking part in public life
- Property rights
- Privacy and reputation
- Protection of families and children
- Cultural rights—generally
- Cultural rights—Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- Right to liberty and security of person
- Humane treatment when deprived of liberty
- Fair hearing
- Rights in criminal proceedings
- Children in the criminal process
- Right not to be tried or punished more than once
- Retrospective criminal laws
- Right to education
- Right to health services.
These are primarily civil and political rights drawn from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights but also include two rights drawn from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and one from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The Act also explicitly recognises the special importance of human rights to the Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Queensland as Australia’s first people and their distinctive and diverse spiritual, material and economic relationship with the lands, territories, waters and coastal seas. It also recognises the particular significance of the right to self-determination to Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
More information regarding the Human Rights Act 2019, the rights that the Act protects and how complaints can be made can be found on the Queensland Human Rights Commission website: https://www.qhrc.qld.gov.au/your-rights/human-rights-law
The Human Rights Act & Criminal Law
The Act is a significant piece of legislation which assists in protecting peoples’ human rights across all areas of law, but arguably none more so than the area of criminal law.
The new legislation can potentially assist in matters such as bail applications, arguments regarding the admissibility of evidence and assisting defendants in receiving trials without unreasonable delay and this is just to name a few.
It is important that when considering engaging a criminal lawyer that you ensure your lawyer is fully aware of the recent developments in criminal law and how they can assist or impact your matter.
At Potts Lawyers we ensure that all of our lawyers are aware of recent changes in the criminal justice system and how they may impact your matter.
Need Help or Legal Advice?
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, please do not hesitate to contact our experienced team of criminal lawyers located in Brisbane (3221 4999) or at our Gold Coast Criminal Law firm (5532 3133) for a free consultation today.
Our lawyers travel across Queensland and our firm is available 24/7 on our emergency CRIMELINE (0488 999 980).