Thursday, March 18, 2010

Human Rights: Australian court rules drug law breaches human rights

ABC reports Victoria's highest court has invoked the state's Charter of Human Rights to send a law back to Parliament on the grounds that it breaches the rights of citizens.

It is the first time the court has used this power and it is doing so in a drug possession case which the Supreme Court says tramples on the right to the presumption of innocence.

The move is being closely observed by opponents and supporters of a Commonwealth bill of rights.

Under Section 5 of Victoria's Drugs Act someone is deemed to be in possession of drugs if they own a property where the drugs are found, unless they can prove otherwise.

Vera Momcilovic was convicted under this law in August 2008.

The Court of Appeal has upheld the conviction but has also announced its intention to send a message to Parliament - the law is incompatible with the right to the presumption of innocence.

Human Rights Law Resource Centre's director, Phil Lynch, said "This is the first time under the Victorian Charter of Human Rights that a court has made a declaration or proposes to make a declaration of inconsistent interpretation."

Full details: Court rules drug law breaches human rights (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

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