NT’s paperless arrest laws gets upheld by the High court

Now, if the police suspect that a person is planning to commit a summary offence, they have been given powers by the controversial laws to hold them for more than four hours. The reason behind this is because the high court decided to rule in favour of the Northern Territory’s paperless arrest laws. In addition, the police are allowed to detain people without charge for minor offences as stated in the Northern Territory’s controversial paperless arrest laws upheld by the high court.

On the other hand, legal and human rights bodies have widely criticised the law. On behalf of a woman who was held in custody for 12 hours and with assistance from the Human Rights Law Centre (HRLC), the law was challenged by North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency (NAAJA). As stated in its submission, NAAJA said there was a breach of the constitutional separation of powers; hence this made the law disproportionate. NAAJA also told the court that the detention of people based on the law was against any judicial process and this made the scheme punitive. However, on Wednesday, a big number of the high court bench rejected allegations that they offered punitive or penal powers to the NT executive by supporting the laws. Therefore, it concluded that the laws do not detract, undermine or impair from the Northern Territory court’s institutional integrity. It also ordered that the plaintiffs were responsible for the costs.

Justices Virginia Bell and Susan Kiefel, together with the chief justice, Robert French noted that it can be deemed potentially unconstitutional and punitive if a person was detained for longer than the legislation dictates. “Irrespective of whether it grants a punitive or penal power, the law remains valid,” said Justice Patrick Keane.

Justice Stephen Gageler said in a dissenting report that the paperless arrest laws made the courts facilitate penal executive detention because holding a person without charge was punitive; hence it supported key players in the scheme. He wrote that while it is a period when arbitrary executive detention is being played out, the courts are made to stand in the wings. As one of the institutions established for the administration of justice, that role is antithetical to their status. Therefore, in order to act out the next scene, they are often ushered onstage. Jonathon Hunyor, who happens to be NAAJA’s principal lawyer, said earlier that the paperless arrest powers given to the police affected homeless and Indigenous people unfairly; hence it doesn’t prove to be accountable. According to the HRLC, approximately 2,000 people have been negatively affected by the law and the homeless people made 80% of the list.

Written by Joseph Craig

Joseph Craig is a writer, blogger, legal researcher and best-selling author of dozens of technology, law, digital marketing and self-development books and courses. You can contact him at josephcraigwrites@gmail.com

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