News & Views

Repression

Protest, Repression, and the Law: A Right to Protest?

Writing to your MP, volunteering for a community group, or attending a protest are all types of basic civic engagement that are critical for a strong democracy. However, the ability of concerned citizens to engage in protest is increasingly being discouraged, if not repressed, by a range of legal techniques and political commentary. This is the first recording of a series of free virtual public panels and training sessions around the theme Protest, Repression and the Law that Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) will be running as part of Victorian Law Week 2020.

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Charge of Incitement

Earlier this year, several people were fined for breaching COVID-19 restrictions whilst protesting. They were protesting against the serious mistreatment of refugees and asylum seekers in Mantra hotels in Victoria and the heightened risk surrounding COVID-19 for those detained. Whilst many protesters were fined for disobeying COVID-19 restrictions, Mantra protest organiser Chris Breen was arrested in his home under the charge of incitement before the protest had even begun. The police also seized his computers and phones during the raid. Given the evolving climate surrounding protesting under COVID-19 restrictions, it is important to have an understanding of the charge of incitement and how it is used in Victoria…

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Interim report on public housing detention directions in Flemington and North Melbourne

Executive summary The threat posed by Covid-19 has led to the mobilisation of state power and authority in new and untested ways. While the community has a shared interest in successfully containing the virus, early evidence suggests that enforcement of public health orders disproportionately impacts on oppressed, poor and marginalised communities. In July 2020, the…

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Statement of Concern: Good Friday Protest Suppressed by Police under COVID Restrictions

Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) is extremely concerned about the way in which the police have used their special policing powers in relation to COVID-19 to suppress peaceful protest. The effect has been to prevent political communication. The situation highlights the lack of exception for peaceful protest under Victorian emergency restrictions. Police arrested one of the…

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Calling out Australia at the United Nations

MALS Endorses Joint NGO Submission to Australia’s 3rd Universal Periodic Review Concerned with narrowing space for civil engagement and protest across Australia, Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) endorses in whole the joint non governmental organisation (NGO) submission to Australia’s 3rd Universal Periodic Review that was released on Thursday 9th April. The submission was endorsed by…

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Statement of Concern: Unique protest squashed by police due to COVID restrictions

Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) expresses concern regarding the dampening of political speech and peaceful association in police threats to fine protesters A unique cavalcade protest that had planned to abide by social distancing restrictions has been banned by local police. Victoria Police threatened the organisers with a hefty fines if the cavalcade went ahead.*…

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Are governments violating human rights and civil liberties in coronavirus response?

Historically crises have been exploited to introduce dangerous policies—right now may be one of these moments. By Sahar Vardi, Mar 26, 2020 With the rise of far right, nationalist governments over the past few years, the world has seen more measures to systematically target voices of dissent and political opposition—resulting in the rapid shrinking of…

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What is ‘Strategic Incapacitation’ and why is it important for activists to understand it?

This post is an excerpt from our recent Legal Observer Report: The Policing of the IMARC Protests. Melbourne Activist Legal Support has tracked the rise in coercive and excessive crowd control tactics by Victoria Police over several years at protest events throughout Victoria. Victoria Police’s approach to protests has been characterised by a lack of…

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Legal Observer Report: Policing of the IMARC Protests

Download a PDF copy of this 45 page report here. Media: Legal observers find police ‘set tone of violence’ at anti-mining protests. Benjamin Miller, The Age, December 7, 2019. Executive Summary The police tactics, approaches and the behaviour of individual police members during the IMARC protest events from Tuesday 29th to Thursday 31st October demonstrated…

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Preliminary Statement of Concern: Policing of the IMARC Protests

Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS) fielded a team of Legal Observers at this morning’s protest events at the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC) that took place at the Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre in Melbourne, Victoria. The protest involved activists chanting, singing, holding banners, speaking and linking arms at the entrance of the Conference…

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Open Letter to Victoria Police

In reply and in light of protest events planned in Melbourne for the month of October we take this opportunity to remind Victoria Police senior command and all operational commanders assigned to public order policing duties over the coming weeks, that ‘disruption to others’ does not justify limiting the Right to Peaceful Assembly.

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#NotWithYou: Why More Weapons for Victoria Police is a Very Bad Idea

Victoria Police have revealed it’s armoury of new repressive weaponry.

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About the Anti-Mask (Public Order) Laws

Since our article Anti-Mask Laws proposed in Victoria, was published the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Public Order) Bill 2017 has been passed in the Victorian Legislative Assembly and is now law in Victoria. This article has been updated on 21 June 2018. PLEASE NOTE: Masks are NOT be banned at all protest events–but ONLY those held…

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Staying Safe: Protective Strategies for Activists

Organisations like Protection International (PI) and Peace Brigades International (PBI) work in different countries with HRDs on protective strategies that can lower the chance of attacks and threats. Working together with activists and HRDs, these organisations have built a body of techniques that people can access and apply to their own work. Knowing how to…

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