Bid to fix a hole in our justice system

bibi-sangha-croppedLegal limitations that restrict the right to fair trial put South Australia – and Australia – at odds with its international rights and obligations, and potentially leave unfairly convicted people unable to contest miscarriages of justice, according to a Flinders law academic.

Ms Bibi Sangha (pictured) is appearing today before the South Australian Legislative Review Committee in support of a 76-page submission that outlines the failure of judicial processes to allow for post-conviction reviews of alleged miscarriages of justice.

Ms Sangha’s initial work on the area prompted the introduction into State Parliament of The Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill 2010 by MLC Ann Bressington, which has been referred to the Committee.

Ms Sangha says that the self-imposed limitations have fundamental implications for justice.

“For instance, the Court of Appeal says that even in the face of compelling new evidence, it cannot hear a further appeal once an initial appeal has been rejected,” Ms Sangha said.

Similarly, the High Court says that constitutionally it is unable to receive fresh evidence indicating a possible miscarriage of justice.

And in South Australia, the remaining option of a statutory petition falls to the discretion of the Attorney-General, meaning that the petition may never achieve a judicial review.

This is even when there is new evidence, or clear evidence of errors by the prosecution’s expert witnesses, Ms Sangha said.

“In effect, unfair convictions are being excluded from the judicial review process, which is clearly inconsistent with the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” she said.

Ms Sangha said that the deficiencies fly in the face of international legal principles and also of the rule of law.

“I see it as a very serious and fundamental failure of the legal system, and it has been going on for some 30 years,” she said.

Ms Sangha’s position is being supported the Australian Human Rights Commission, which has also made a submission to the Legislative Review Committee.

“Essentially they agree with what we have been saying – that the criminal appeals system across Australia does not protect the right to fair trial, and does not provide a proper opportunity for appeal for someone who is the subject of a miscarriage of justice.”

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14 thoughts on “Bid to fix a hole in our justice system

  1. Everyone should get behind Bibi and others like her. Take a stand, have an opinion, speak out, write letters. How else can we protect ourselves from the legislative creep that is gradually eroding our rights as individuals and citizens in Australia? How can we suggest to the rest of the world that we are a democracy based on the rule of law when we have processes that are clearly inconsistent with the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights?

  2. Your work on this is very appreciated Bibi. Thank you for highlighting this important oversight of our justice system.

  3. Thank you Bibi, for being a voice for so many who have been wrongfully convicted. We need your voice in America too – we are no longer ‘the land of the free’ and justice no longer reigns here!

  4. Its great to see that Bibi has the integrity and perseverance to stand up and fight for unfairly convicted people unable to contest miscarriages of justice. It is disgraceful that many others in the judicial and political arenas refuse to stand for what is right and just because of their own agendas. We need more Bibi’s and Ann Bressington’s in this state and nation.

  5. Bibi, you have great skill in explaining the justice systems inadequacies so succinctly. Keep up the good fight.

  6. It is inspiring to see the impassioned, articulate campaign that Professor Bibi Sangha is spearheading to secure an independent review body that will openly and fairly address and remedy wrongful convictions and miscarriages of justice in Australia. Her efforts will undoubtedly be followed closely in other countries where rank injustices are commonplace because of unreasonable legal limitations which give far too much power to politicians to keep wrongful convictions from judicial and public scrutiny. Bravo to Ms. Sangha and to her university. Harold Levy; Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

  7. I serve on the global council of Advocates International,which represents over 30,000 legal professionals
    In 150 nations and includes eminent judges and Professors (
    Bibi’s work is recognised by this body and she enjoys our full support and admiration
    For her academic rigour and passion for justice wisdom and equity.
    I urge the South Australian Legal Community to recognise what the global legal community
    Has glimpsed.

  8. Thank you Bibi and Robert Moles for all your hard work and didication to justice everywhere. You are real champions and heros. Seems a few Attorneys General should be serving stiff jail sentences too for what can only be described as political corruption. Until heads roll nothing will change. To use Voltaire’s phrase, we should “from time to time.. shoot an admiral, to encourage the others” as clearly the authorities are neither getting it, nor do they care!

  9. Our voiceless need champions, may your courage break down the barriers & bring freedom.

  10. Blessings and prayers with you, Bibi, as we stand in support of your gutsy endeavor.
    May truth and justice prevail. We thank you for upholding critical issues of life in a corrupted world system. We pray for victory in all your submissions. May the true criminals be brought to justice!

  11. Along with Bob Moles and M/s Bibi Sangha our gratitude should also extend to MLC Ann Bressington for her intoduction into State Parliament of The Criminal Cases Review Commission Bill 2010. She appears to be one of the few Politicians in our State that is prepared to champion the cause for the wrongly covicted without fear or favour. It is almost beyond belief to believe that in our State there has never been a miscarriage of justice.

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