JUSTICE NOT JAIL
End all discriminatory laws that have led to increased police harassment and incarceration of Aboriginal people. This includes race-based alcohol restrictions, the capacity to suspend the need for a warrant to enter premises on Aboriginal land, blanket pornography bans, stigmatising signage in Aboriginal communities, and local council by-laws in Alice Springs which target the homeless.
Repeal 'star chamber' powers that suspend the right to silence for Australian Crime Commission investigations in Aboriginal communities.
Remove NTER prohibitions on the consideration of Aboriginal customary law in
bail and sentencing. Recognise customary law as an important vehicle to empower
Even before the Intervention, the NT had the highest incarceration rate in Australia.
Since 2007, Indigenous incarceration rates have spiked by 41 per cent - from 699 Indigenous inmates in September 2008 to 991 in March 2011 (pdf pg 91).
In mid-2006, in response to false allegations aired on ABC Lateline about organised pedophilia in Central Australian Indigenous communities, Federal Police were deployed and significant investments took place into new police stations, police housing and 'strike teams'.
With the NT Intervention in June 2007, 18 new police stations were built in remote Aboriginal communities.
Intervention laws introduced a raft of measures which encourage discriminatory policing, including blanket prohibitions on alcohol and pornography on Aboriginal land and the granting of police powers to enter private premises on suspicion of alcohol possession, without a warrant .
The Australian Crime Commission was given 'star chamber powers' for investigations into child abuse in Indigenous communities, removing the right of silence for respondents and the right to freely disclose proceedings. Despite announcing the "there was no organised pedophilia targeting Indigenous or children", the ACC has retained these powers.
Sections 90 and 91 of the NTER Act preclude consideration of customary law when courts are making determinations about bail and sentencing.
These provisions were cited in a Supreme Court decision that a $500 fine was sufficient punishment for a construction company that had built a pit toilet on a sacred site.
Council Bylaws introduced in Alice Springs in 2009 have been criticised (pdf) as encouraging more intense policing of Indigenous people in public space.
A recent report Governing Crime in the Intervention found that the increase in incarceration can largely be explained through an increase in prosecutions for motor vehicle offences such as unlicensed driving.
Since mid-2006 there has been a 250 per cent increase in police investigations of driving offences across the NT and almost half of all offences heard in courts in 'prescribed communities' have been for driving offences. By contrast, sexual offences have slightly declined.
A study by NT Aboriginal legal aid agencies (pdf) of attitudes to police in areas which had gained a new police stations found that 75 per cent were in favour of a police presence.
However, the study found a slight decrease in positive feelings towards the police since the Intervention. There were also widespread complaints about unwarranted searches and the policing of driving on Aboriginal land.
The Aboriginal Peak Organisations NT and National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services have called for the immediate repeal of provisions which encourage discriminatory law enforcement and restrict consideration of customary law.
The Little Children Area Sacred Report recommended, "the government gives consideration to recognising and incorporating into Northern Territory law aspects of Aboriginal law that effectively contribute to the restoration of law and order within Aboriginal communities".