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Australia About to Change Slavery/Forced Labour Laws

Discussion in 'Australia and New Zealand' started by Cherished, Dec 10, 2012.

  1. Cherished

    Cherished Silver Meritorious Patron

    A little something has been going on in the Australian federal parliament that is about to bear fruit (well, it'll be 2013 now, because parliament is over for 2012).

    Specifically, the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-like Conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012, once it is passed by the Senate and signed off by the Governor General, will amend the laws dealing with the crime of Slavery by:


    1. Extending the definition of "coercion" to include a range of psychological forms of coercion that are used by people engaged in slavery, namely:
      "coercion by force, duress, detention, psychological oppression, abuse of power, or taking advantage of a person’s vulnerability.";​
    2. Introducing some new offences, including "servitude" and "forced labour";
    3. Making it an offence to harbour a victim; and
    4. Making it easier for victims to claim reparation.


    Some choice excerpts from the Explanatory Memorandum to the bill

    (note: if you download the word version of the EM, you'll have to change the name of the file to end in docx and delete the rest of the ending):



    • "Slavery and people trafficking are amongst the most abhorrent of all crimes. These heinous offences are major violations of human rights, and may result in traumatic and lifelong consequences for victims and their families. The Australian Government is committed to combating all forms of slavery and people trafficking, including by ensuring that our strong regime of criminal offences remains relevant and responsive to emerging issues.
    • The purpose of the Bill is to ensure that the broadest range of exploitative behaviour is captured and criminalised, including by introducing new offences of forced labour, forced marriage, and harbouring a victim, and by clarifying existing offences and their definitions to enhance operational effectiveness. The Bill also increases the availability of reparation orders to individual victims of Commonwealth offences, including people trafficking."
    • "The Bill also establishes a continuum of slavery and slavery-like offences - with an offence of slavery at the most grave end of the spectrum, and an offence of debt bondage at the less grave end of the spectrum."
    • "Investigations into slavery and slavery-like offences have revealed that the exploitation of many victims in Australia does not involve abduction, violence or physical restraint. Rather, offenders often use subtle, non-physical means to obtain a victim’s compliance, such as psychological oppression, the abuse of power or taking advantage of a person’s vulnerability. In these circumstances, it has proved challenging to convince juries that the offender’s conduct constitutes the offence. The new definition of coercion is intended to be a non-exhaustive list capturing both physical and non-physical coercive conduct, including the more subtle means by which offenders obtain a victim’s compliance."
    • "The fact that a person may suffer a penalty under the terms of a typical employment contract would not of itself amount to being ‘not free’. It is only if the use of coercion, threat or deception effectively denies the person her or his freedom in relation to either ceasing to provide labour or services or leaving the place where those labour or services are provided.
    • This amendment adds a second tier to the definition of servitude; that the victim is significantly deprived of personal freedom. This is intended to reflect the degree of difference between the offences of slavery and servitude. To establish slavery it must be proved that the accused exercises a power of ownership over the victim. Servitude falls short of ownership, but occurs when the offender’s domination over the victim through coercion, threat or deception is such that the victim is effectively denied her or his freedom in some fundamental respect. This is reflected in the new definition.
    • As a result of new subsection 270.4(3), a person may be in a condition of servitude whether or not escape from the condition is practically possible for the victim, or whether or not the victim has attempted to escape. The new definition of servitude is intended to apply whether or not physical restraint is used for all, or part of, the period of servitude, and not intended to require the victim’s escape to be impossible."
    • "The fact that a person may suffer a penalty under the terms of a typical employment contract would not of itself amount to being ‘not free’. It is only if the use of coercion, threat or deception effectively denies the person her or his freedom in relation to either ceasing to provide labour or services or leaving the place where those labour or services are provided.
    • This amendment adds a second tier to the definition of servitude; that the victim is significantly deprived of personal freedom. This is intended to reflect the degree of difference between the offences of slavery and servitude. To establish slavery it must be proved that the accused exercises a power of ownership over the victim. Servitude falls short of ownership, but occurs when the offender’s domination over the victim through coercion, threat or deception is such that the victim is effectively denied her or his freedom in some fundamental respect. This is reflected in the new definition.
    • As a result of new subsection 270.4(3), a person may be in a condition of servitude whether or not escape from the condition is practically possible for the victim, or whether or not the victim has attempted to escape. The new definition of servitude is intended to apply whether or not physical restraint is used for all, or part of, the period of servitude, and not intended to require the victim’s escape to be impossible."


    The Bill was introduced into the House of Representatives by the Attorney General in May 2012. It was supported by both sides of politics and was sent up to the Senate. A Senate Committee report dated 13 September also supports the legislation. The Senate needs to vote on the bill, following which it can become law. Some recommendations by the Senate might result in amendments.


    We know that federal authorities have investigated the circumstances of a number of former members of scientology. I believe those investigations will have informed the Attorney General's department in the preparation of this draft legislation.
     
  2. TG1

    TG1 Angelic Poster

    Cherished,

    If this legislation is enacted, sounds to me like the Sea Org (as we have come to know and love it) is pretty much kaput in Australia.

    To all those Aussies who've worked so hard over the last several years to inform these legal changes that will better protect Australians' civil rights, thank you. :thumbsup:

    TG1
     
  3. Anonycat

    Anonycat Crusader

  4. dchoiceisalwaysrs

    dchoiceisalwaysrs Gold Meritorious Patron

    I haven't read all of the legislation but it seems to be very good and needed.

    One section that I particularly like is section 270.11 addressing

    "NO defense of victim consent or acquiescence" which to me means in essence that if a perpetrator, who dishonestly manipulates another into relinquishing their rights under this law, cannot say "see, this person agreed to be dehumanized" therefore I am innocent!

    IANAL but I wonder how this will effect contract laws and the many contracts that the cult seems to use to put themselves above the law.

    I wonder what the cult is going to do. It seems to me that helping LRH have all men as his slaves, and using coercion, deception and the courts to to carry forward has been preempted.

    What a delight!
     
  5. Free to shine

    Free to shine Shiny & Free

    Wow, brilliant! I can't wait to see how this plays out. :thumbsup:
     
  6. Mark A. Baker

    Mark A. Baker Sponsor

    First, congratulations on the progress being made.



    Second, would you please expand a bit on the above item. On a casual reading it seems perverse. What is the actual intent?


    Mark A. Baker
     
  7. Leon

    Leon Gold Meritorious Patron

    Wonderful news. I hope New Zealand and the rest of the world follow suit.
     
  8. Jump

    Jump Operating teatime

    Great news Cherished.

    And thank you to the Attorney General Nicola Roxon,
    http://www.nicolaroxonmp.com/j20/index.php

    One question.. is there any mention of 'religious' exemption? I know that currently any legit religion is paying staff at least award wages, and this legislation would be no problem.
     
  9. Happy Days

    Happy Days Silver Meritorious Patron

    Cherish this is fantastic news. As the legislation comes into effect the restrictions on cult will be huge and that is very pleasing indeed.
    As always hugs and admiration to you and others who have worked hard to hold this evil cult to account.
     
  10. oneonewasaracecar

    oneonewasaracecar Gold Meritorious Patron

    Interesting point.

    Also, thanks Ms. O'Donovan for the news and presumably all your hard work behind the scenes.
     
  11. Free Being Me

    Free Being Me Crusader

    This legislation is welcome news! You Aussies rock! :woohoo:
     
  12. Petey C

    Petey C Silver Meritorious Patron

    Thanks Cherished for this update.

    And just to add to the general good stuff, the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission is now open for business -- here http://www.acnc.gov.au/

    It's first day was today, which also happens to be International Human Rights Day.

    I love that I live here.
     
  13. Purple Rain

    Purple Rain Crusader

    I just love this. It's the representatives of the people standing up and saying 'This is what we value in Australia'. Just this affirmation of freedom as a human right that can't be signed away is so wonderful. I have to pinch myself! I won't celebrate till the Senate vote is done - I was too disappointed with the Fair Work Ombudsman. But I am putting in the order for my champagne!

    Go you good things!!
     
  14. Purple Rain

    Purple Rain Crusader

  15. Kookaburra

    Kookaburra Gold Meritorious Patron

    This sounds like a spot on handling for the cases of Sea Org servitude recently investigated by the federal police. They really have a grasp of what goes on in there, and I think it is a direct result of a few of the recent cases that were looked into by AFP last Mar-May.

    Suck it up, OSA. :neener:
     
  16. Cherished

    Cherished Silver Meritorious Patron

    It's exciting, isn't it?





    From the EM:

    The Sea Organisation members in Australia, and some others, should get legal advice about this new offence.

    12 years.
     
  17. Cherished

    Cherished Silver Meritorious Patron

    I can claim no credit for this one, guys. I have a suspicion that the government has learnt from their scientology investigations, but no proof.
     
  18. Cherished

    Cherished Silver Meritorious Patron

    Yes, that's a great provision. It only applies to the criminal offences in these divisions, not to civil contracts. However, there are a couple of ways to challenge the church's "contracts":


    1. contracts that promote illegal activity (such as slavery, servitude, forced labour) will not be enforced by the courts as a matter of public policy; and
    2. even if the crime could not be proven beyond reasonable doubt, provided coercion is proven to the civil standard (balance of probabilities), then the person's will was not free. Contract law requires that the parties freely formed an agreement with an intention that it be legally binding. Coercion makes a contract void or voidable.
     
  19. TG1

    TG1 Angelic Poster

    Imma say something I hope isn't misunderstood: This is REAL progress. And this progress is the result of so many things, including people "just typing on message boards." Of course, there's so much more that happens after that to effect the enactment of well-worded laws. We should not forget, however, that in democratic societies public opinion can have powerful results.

    Public opinion = "just typing on message boards."

    Thanks, ESMBers.

    TG1
     
  20. RogerB

    RogerB Crusader

    This whole sequence of events we have witnessed in Oz in the last year-plus (or is it 2 years?) is a wonderful example of the methodical, well thought out progress of handlings that become necessary when honest folks communicate to their caring elected representatives.

    One of the things that is in the Ozzie culture is the idea of a "Fair Go." It refers to the notion that folks should be given fair and decent treatment (probably stems from our recovery from being treated as convicts in days of yore).

    Senator Xeno is an exemplar of this notion . . . and slow as progress might appear in matters such as these, definitive progress has been and is being made.

    Oz is going to be more and more an example of good sense to the rest of the world.

    Ozzie, Ozzie, Oi! Oi! Oi!

    RogerB