Voters in prisons and hospitals refused information

Media release March 21, 2011


“Lawyers booked to visit the Forensic Hospital on Sunday were refused access by the Clinical Director Dr Adrian Keller.  A legal team assembled by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, led by the former Commonwealth Solicitor General David Bennett AC QC was ready to challenge the Election newspaper ban in the Supreme Court today. This is exactly the attitude we are confronting” said JA Coordinator Brett Collins.

“Corrective Services and Justice Health have refused prisoners and patients in health institutions access to a newspaper carrying issues that affect them. The paper carries statements from political parties to voters in institutions, and an analysis of issues from the Community Justice Coalition pre-election Justice Forum” said Mr Collins.

Justice Health Executive Officer Julie Babineau said by email 17/3:

‘The document contains language and content that is political in nature and as such would not be deemed suitable for distribution within any NSW health facilities.  Any distribution of such material by Justice Health could be viewed as being endorsed by Justice Health.’

“Corrective Services said it has ‘adequate sources of information’ and ‘ensures each (voter) has the information on political parties’, however prisoners tell us they have received nothing” said Mr Collins.

“The ability to access information of a political nature is an essential element in the democratic process. It is a contradiction that these citizens have the right to vote, while their ability to receive a range of political ideas and opinions is curtailed” said Mr Collins.

“HREOC concluded in 2006 that to ban access to such publications is a breach of the human rights of prisonersand contrary to the ICCPR. Previous editions of the Election Newspaper have been twice to the Supreme Court. The lack of respect by these bureaucrats for citizens political rights is really outrageous” said Mr Collins.

“Australia’s leading constitutional lawyers say that this matter of informing voters in institutions is an ‘important fight’, and we intend to take it on again” said Mr Collins.  

Newspaper JUST US Election Special Vol 4/1 is attached.

Comments: Brett Collins 0438 705003

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