Katy Barnett’s recent post on the seemingly increasing tendency of Australian parliaments to enact retrospective criminal laws provoked my interest. Arguably a Bill concerning “people smugglers” currently before Federal Parliament is the most troubling of these instances. As Barnett explains:
An Indonesian man, Jeky Payara, was charged with aggravated people smuggling pursuant to s 233C of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth) after he was accused of carrying 49 asylum seekers to Christmas Island in September 2010. In August this year, Payara sought to challenge the law on the basis that be argued was he was legally entitled to assist genuine refugees to reach Australia. He pleaded not guilty, and has not yet been convicted of any offence. The matter was referred to the Victorian Court of Appeal.
However, on 1 November 2011, the Federal Government hastily passed the Deterring People Smuggling Bill 2011 through the House of Representatives, with the…
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