A crowd gathers in Sydney to protest the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers, February 2016.

Draconian anti-protest legislation would take Tasmania back to the dark ages

Amnesty International Australia strongly opposes Tasmania’s proposed severe anti-protest legislation which would penalise protestors to the same degree as murderers.

The new Bill is more restrictive and punitive than the previous attempt by the Hodgman Government to stymie protest which was invalidated by the High Court four years ago.

The 2015 Bill carried four years imprisonment for offences relating to protest, but this new bill equates protesting – or exercising fundamental human rights – to murder.

“The right to protest peacefully is a defining feature of Australia’s liberal democracy,” Amnesty International Australia campaigner Nikita White said.

“Tasmania’s harsh and unnecessary proposed anti-protest laws are the latest example of an alarming and unmistakable trend. Governments across Australia are eroding some of the vital foundations of Australia’s democracy, in order to entrench their political power and that of business interests.”

Amnesty International Australia campaigner Nikita White

“The Tasmanian Premier says he wants this legislation to protect the right to protest, but the only real way to do this is with a human rights act, which the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute recommended in 2008.”

Amnesty International Australia Activist Leadership Committee Tasmania president Greg Luckman said:

“Our ability to assemble is so important not just as a means of political expression, but also to protect other human rights.

“Peaceful protests are a vital aspect of a vibrant society, and as recognised by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, governments should recognise the positive role of peaceful protests in strengthening human rights.”

Greg Luckman

When courageous people protest, they make the world a better place. We must protect the right to protest wherever it is restricted and whenever it is at risk.

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