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How to support the law against Genocide Bill in Australian Parliament

Media Release

5 July deadline for submissions to Senate Genocide Inquiry

Professor Ghillar, Michael Anderson, Convenor of the Sovereign Union, last surviving member of the founding four of the Aboriginal Embassy and Head of State of the Euahlayi Peoples Republic emphasises that the Criminal Code 1995 needs amending so that Australia finally has an operating law against Genocide. The 1948 Genocide convention states;

Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following
acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national,
ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:

(a) Killing members of the group,
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group,
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to
bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,
(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group,
(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Article III: The following acts shall be punishable:
(a) Genocide,
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide,
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide,
(d) Attempt to commit genocide,
(e) Complicity in genocide.

In essence, there is a need to repeal the Attorney-General’s fiat (power of veto) in clauses 268.121 and 268.122 of the Criminal Code 1995 in order for Australia to have an operating law against Genocide, without the Attorney-General having the power to block any genocide cases from proceeding in Australia. Countries are not considered civilised if they do not have a law against genocide.

On 31 May during Senate Estimates on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation, Senator Lidia Thorpe asked questions relating to the Attorney-General’s fiat and to the Attorney-General’s Department response to her previous question on notice to which they answered that: “the Australian government does not consider that genocide is occurring in Australia.” Lidia asked: “How do you come to the conclusion that there’s no genocide continuing in this country today?

What is the basis of that information?” Mr Simon Newman, Deputy Secretary for the integrity and international Group, answered: “... We have not been given any advice in relation to that.”

In February 2024 Senator Lidia Thorpe introduced to parliament a Private Senators Bill on Genocide named the Criminal Code Amendment (Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes) Bill 2024. She gained the support of the Senate to send it to an inquiry.

We need many submissions to the Senate Criminal Code Amendment Inquiry to be submitted before 5 July. The Inquiry findings to be released on 13 November 2024.

VIDEOS:

Senator Lidia Thorpe in the Senate explaining the necessity for a Private Senators Bill to remove Attorney-Generals veto power [fiat]

https://fb.watch/qFXgjnvrcb/
https://www.facebook.com/reel/243942628759456

In Senator Lidia Thorpe’s words [from lidiathorpe.com and senator.thorpe@aph.gov.au]:
This inquiry is a rare opportunity for Truth-telling and exploring avenues to improve justice
around Genocide and other atrocity crimes.

Anyone can make a submission to the inquiry – all submissions will be read and will help to shape the government's response when my Bill goes to a vote. Submissions close on 5 July 2024.

That’s why we need plenty of submissions from people across the country.

LEARN ABOUT MAKING A SUBMISSION HERE.

What is the Bill about?

In this country, courts can only prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, if they get the consent of the Attorney-General of the day. 

In this country, courts can only prosecute genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, if they get the consent of the Attorney-General of the day. 

This is known as the Attorney-General’s fiat power, and it means it’s up to an individual politician to say which cases of this nature can and can’t be looked at in court.

This creates a clear conflict of interest and allows politicians to interfere in our justice system. No politician should get to say who can and can’t be held accountable for the most heinous crimes like Genocide.

The bill is simple: it removes the AGs fiat power, so anyone is free to initiate prosecution of these crimes in Australian courts, whether the government of the day likes it or not. 
Genocide Bill

All victims and survivors of the most heinous crimes like Genocide should be able to seek justice through legal systems that adhere to international standards and are free from political interference.
But right now in this country, the Attorney-General has unchecked power to block prosecution of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity from proceeding in our courts. This power is called the AG’s fiat.

That’s why Senator Lidia Thorpe introduced a Private Senators Bill to strip the Attorney-General of this unjust and dangerous veto power: the Criminal Code Amendment (Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes) Bill 2024. 

You can read more on the background and purpose of the Bill here: https://shorturl.at/Gpk3g

In short, the Bill would:

Remove the requirement for the Attorney-General to consent to atrocity crime cases. This means anyone can file for proceedings on these crimes in a court.

Allow cases blocked by previous Attorneys-General since 2002 to be reviewed. 
Inquiry

In February 2024, SSenator Lidia Thorpe gained support for a Senate inquiry into my Private Senator’s Bill.

This is an opportunity to bring Genocide into the public awareness. It is an opportunity for Truth-telling. 

Among other things, the inquiry can cover matters such as:

  • The appalling track record of Australian governments in pursuing Genocide and other atrocity crimes;
  • Australia’s own history of treating its First Peoples and absolving itself of responsibility;
  • Blocked attempts to pursue cases of Genocide and other atrocity crimes in Australia;
  • Implications of the AG’s power (the AG’s fiat) on preventing and punishing Genocide and related atrocity crimes here and around the world;

How Australia can more effectively implement the Genocide Convention domestically

This inquiry is a rare opportunity for Truth-telling and exploring avenues to improve justice and prevent Genocide and other atrocity crimes from ever happening again.

Submissions close on 5 July 2024 and the inquiry will hand down its findings on November 13.

Please consider making a submission.

You can send your submission to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Senate Committee at LegCon.Sen@aph.gov.au or head to the committee’s inquiry website for information about the Bill and how to make a submission.

You can find our guide on how to make a submission here
If you have any further questions, please give my office a call on (03) 9070 1950 or email us at senator.thorpe@aph.gov.au.

Background

Australia signed the Genocide Convention in 1948 but has done little since to fulfil its duty to prevent and punish the worst crime of humanity. 

Australia delayed enacting the Convention into domestic law until 2002 when it was forced to, but included significant limitations. This means that no cases of Genocide, Crimes against Humanity or War Crimes can be pursued in a court in this country without the written consent of the Attorney General – and the Attorney General’s decision cannot be legally challenged. 

This veto power goes against the very intention of the Genocide Convention. 

No politician should get to say who can and can't be held accountable in our legal system, particularly when it comes to the most heinous crimes.
 

The Bill

On 7 February 2024, Senator Lidia Thorpe introduced the Criminal Code Amendment (Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes) Bill 2024 to the Senate. The Bill will: 
Remove the requirement for the Attorney General to consent to atrocity crime cases. This means anyone can file for proceedings on these crimes in a court, without the Attorney General being able to interfere.

Allow previous decisions by Attorney Generals to give or refuse consent to be reviewed.

Guidelines to making a Genocide submission to the inquiry into Criminal Code Amendment (Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes) Bill 2024 

Information to include in your submission

There are no right or wrong submissions. Submissions can be your personal story, your observations or insights into the need to prosecute perpetrators of genocide and crimes against humanity both here and overseas. 

Submissions can be provided as a written document, video or audio file, artwork, song and/or dance.
Your submission must include:

Contact information: Your name, address, phone number

Confidentiality: If you want your submission to be kept confidential make sure you write that at the top of the page.

Then go on to talk about:

Key Issues:  Identify the key problems that need to be addressed

Evidence: To support the key issues, the enquiry will prefer “expert opinion” however all evidence from Sovereign Peoples is considered as expert evidence in our office
Case studies: How have you/your community/organisation been affected by the issue? For this part, you might want to remove any identifiable information

Recommendations: Include possible solutions, the committee will want to know how to address the problem(s)

If your submission is quite long you may wish to include a summary at the beginning.

Submission Tips

The best submissions:

  • are relevant and highlight your own perspective
  • are concise, generally no longer than four to five pages
  • begin with a short introduction about yourself or the organisation you represent
  • emphasise the key points so that they are clear
  • outline not only what the issues are but how problems can be addressed, as the committee looks to submissions for ideas to make recommendations
  • only include documents that directly relate to your key points
  • only include information you would be happy to see published on the internet.

  • Further submission information can be found here and an easy English guide to making a submission can be found here.
    Professor Ghillar, Michael Anderson adds:

    • 1. Before sending you might like to make the point that the current Act does not work for the population to make complaints against genocide when the only person to make case is the Federal Attorney-General . This is not synonymous with a free and democratic society. It is an Act that represents autocratic government
    • 2. The current Act is a clear representation of Australia’s worst nightmare, that is, the right of the people to being actions and to have governments account for wrongdoings.
    • 3. Since 1986 both England and Australia have legislated to protect the Crown from any liabilities and culpabilities in their treatment against First Nations Peoples in Australia. But that is only to do with the monarch and not government policy.
    • 4. The text of two clauses 268.121–122 to be repealed from the Criminal Code 1995 is:
    • 268.121 Bringing proceedings under this Division
    • (1) Proceedings for an offence under this Division must not be commenced without the Attorney General’s written consent.
    • (2) An offence against this Division may only be prosecuted in the name of the Attorney General.
    • (3) However, a person may be arrested, charged, remanded in custody, or released on bail, in connection with an offence under this Division before the necessary consent has been given.
    • 268.122 Attorney General’s decisions in relation to consents to be final
    • (1) Subject to any jurisdiction of the High Court under the Constitution, a decision by the Attorney General to give, or to refuse to give, a consent under section 268.121:
    • (a) is final; and
    • (b) must not be challenged, appealed against, reviewed, quashed or called in question; and
    • (c) is not subject to prohibition, mandamus, injunction, declaration or certiorari.
    • (2) The reference in subsection (1) to a decision includes a reference to the following:
    • (a) a decision to vary, suspend, cancel or revoke a consent that has been given;
    • (b) a decision to impose a condition or restriction in connection with the giving of, or a refusal to give, a consent or to remove a condition or restriction so imposed;
    • (c) a decision to do anything preparatory to the making of a decision to give, or to refuse to give, a consent or preparatory to the making of a decision referred to in paragraph (a) or (b), including a decision for the taking of evidence or the holding of an inquiry or investigation;
    • (d) a decision doing or refusing to do anything else in connection with a decision to give, or to refuse to give, a consent or a decision referred to in paragraph (a), (b) or (c);
    • (e) a failure or refusal to make a decision whether or not to give a consent or a decision referred to in a paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d).
    • (3) Any jurisdiction of the High Court referred to in subsection (1) is exclusive of the jurisdiction of any other court.
    • Send it

      The deadline for submissions is July 5, 2024 

      When you have finished your submission, there are 3 ways to send it to the committee.
      Via their website: 

      Upload your submission here
      Via email:
      legcon.sen@aph.gov.au

      Via mail:
      Committee Secretary
      Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee
      PO Box 6100
      Parliament House
      Canberra ACT 2600 

      The inquiry website can be found here

      If you need assistance in completing your submission you can contact the committee directly on 02 6277 3560 or Senator Thorpe’s office on 03 9070 1950.

      Contact:
      Professor Ghillar, Michael Anderson
      Convenor of Sovereign Union of First Nations and Peoples in Australia
      and Head of State of the Euahlayi Peoples Republic 

      ghillar29@gmail.com,  0499 080 660 www.sovereignunion.mobi