The basic principles of civil liberty are under threat by the Queensland Government’s new ‘anti-bikie’ legislation, according to the Queensland Council for Civil Liberties (QCCL).
Legislation passed in parliament this week is not specific to ‘bikie gangs’ but open to any organisation the State Government deems to be a criminal organisation.
QCCL spokesman Michael Cope said the new laws violated one of the basic rights of our society: ‘Freedom of Assembly and Association’.
“Whenever you ban an organisational recruit of people, that violates the fundamental right to freedom of association,” he said.
“You immediately deem a whole bunch of people by virtue of the fact they know each other or congregate in a group, as being criminals”.
Under the ‘Vicious Lawless Association Disestablishment’ law people found to be members of the now 26 criminal ‘bikie gangs’ will face mandatory 15-year jail sentences if convicted of an offence.
The term ‘bikies’ was not mentioned anywhere in the legislation and opened approach raises concerns for the wider community.
“A fundamental principle of our legal system is that people are found guilty because of their behaviour, not by whom they associate,” Mr Cope said.
“This could apply to lawyers, family members, accountants, it could apply to a whole bunch of people that provide services to bikies”.
The Australian reported other groups such as sporting or social clubs could be considered criminal organisations under the new laws.
This could also include environmental groups and unions.
“Once the government gets it into its head that it’s going to declare various organisations illegal, where does that stop?” Mr Cope said.
“It just violates basic principles of human rights and basic principles of civil liberties”.