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March 21, 2014

Chief Magistrate Wishes to Remove Appeal Rights

by dankrogers

Appeal Rights

In the Courier Mail of 19 March 2014 it was reported that Chief Magistrate Tim Carmody is lobbying the government to limit rights of appeal against decisions by Magistrates. Specifically, he wishes to remove the right of a person to appeal against a finding of fact by a Magistrate. Furthermore, he seeks to limit appeals to only serious questions of law.

The right to appeal is of fundamental importance in our criminal justice system. It is recognised in Queensland, Australia and internationally under the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Article 14 of the ICCPR sets out the minimum fair trial garuantees. At Article 14(5), it states that:

“Everyone convicted of a crime shall have the right to his conviction and sentence being reviewed by a higher tribunal according to law.”

This attack on appeal rights is concerning. The reality is that Magistrates are human beings and they, like any other individual, make mistakes in the exercise of their functions. Our government should not entertain the limitation of important fair trial rights which include the right to a proper appeal hearing.

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