The innocent deserve protection, and should not be the subject of these draconian VLAD laws.
The research, as provided to the Courier Mail last week, confirms that these laws effect people with no serious criminal history, and target 7 clubs whose members do not have any serious criminal history.
According to an article published on the weekend, police “researchers” told the Courier Mail that “…more than 70 per cent of members of some bikie clubs have serious criminal convictions” and that “nearly half of all members of the top 19 violent outlaw gangs had convictions for serious crimes.”
Statistics can be manipulated and I would like to make some comments on these ones in particular.
The public is being asked to swallow these figures and conclude that the VLAD laws are justified because some of the members of clubs have a criminal history.
It is important to remember these laws allow for severe mandatory sentencing, solitary confinement, fear of being seen in public, the reversal of the right to bail and innocence, and other denials of natural justice and human rights.
These sorts of laws should not be passed lightly, or without careful research on who will be effected.
They should not undermine the rule of law, or civil rights, nor should they prevent freedom of the right to protest, or the right to associate.
Unfortunately this is not the case with the VLAD laws.
This is why these laws have come under strong criticism from Judges, Amnesty, human rights groups, and organisations across the globe.
They offend Australia’s treaty obligations, and involve a serious erosion of civil liberties, freedoms, and rights.
The means never justify the ends, and these means are undeniably draconian.
Let’s look at the police “statistics” – noting the Courier Mail did not provide much detail, because they actually demonstrate that the majority of members of these clubs do not have criminal histories.
Firstly, these statistics choose to only refer to 19 of the 26 clubs named – so how do they justify the laws applying to the other 7 clubs named on the list?
Does that mean they made a mistake naming the other clubs?
Presumably the statistics for those clubs are insignificant which is why they have not be mentioned in the Courier Mail.
Lest we also forget that they have named a club (The Scorpions) that does not even exist in Australia – why include them!
So much for carefully researching and vetting which clubs deserve to be subjected to draconian laws.
Secondly, on their own “statistics”, 2/3rds of members of the majority of clubs DO NOT have any serious convictions.
Why tar all members with no history with the same brush then?
Why are these laws being used to target clubs where less than 1/3 of members have a criminal history?
Why are persons with no criminal history subject to the same draconian laws?
Can the loss of the presumption of innocence really be justified where the majority effected have no history at all?
Finally, the statistics also fail to differentiate between criminal histories which predate membership of a motorcycle club, and therefore have no relevance to their membership of the club, or their current lifestyle. As a lawyer I was always taught that people can rehabilitate, and indeed I have seen first and people change their lives around when they mature and start building a family life.
To judge someone on their past is a mistake. People do change.
Sometimes people need a place to belong – such as a club – to help them achieve their life goals.
Many Vietnam veterans for example joined clubs when they returned from fighting for Australia – yet these guys are also subject to the same draconian laws, even if they only joined for a few months in the 1970s (the laws are retrospective too by the way!).
These are men that fought for Australia, yet now they fear marching on ANZAC Day!
What is happening to our country!
Then there are the funerals that are being stalked by police trying to catch more than 2 club members arriving at the same time to mourn the death of a friend.
I cannot see how that can be justified (especially when the deceased was not even a member at the time of his passing which has been the case on at least two funerals this year).
Surely some things are sacred – births death and marriages would have to be three of the ceremonies that deserve respect.
Laws should not target people simply because of what they might do.
Laws should not punish people for who they choose to befriend, or associate with.
If the majority of members do not have convictions, then why are they being targeted?
If only a minority of members have any criminal history, then how can they justify why are these clubs being declared to be “criminal organisations”?
How can they justify targeting their friends, family and associates?
The innocent deserve protection from these laws.