Submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional
Legislation Committee’s inquiry into the
Law and Justice Amendment Bill 2005
Senate Legal and Constitutional Legislation Committee
Department of the Senate
Canberra ACT 2600
7 July 2005
Dear Madam Chair
Law and Justice Amendment Bill 2005 – HREOC Submission
Thank you for inviting HREOC to make a submission to the Senate Legal and
Constitutional Legislation Committee’s (the Committee) inquiry into the
Law and Justice Amendment Bill 2005 (the Bill).
HREOC wishes to confine its submission to the amendments contained in Schedule
Two to the Bill.
HREOC welcomes the proposed amendments to sections 268.68 and 268.88 of the Criminal
Code 1995 (Cth), which implement Australia’s obligation under
article 4(2) of the Optional Protocol on the Convention on the Rights of
the Child on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict (the Optional
Protocol) to “take all feasible measures” to prevent non-State
armed groups recruiting or using in hostilities persons under the age of
HREOC notes that the Optional Protocol was the subject of inquiry and report
by the Joint Standing Committee Treaties’ (JSCOT).
In its report, JSCOT recommended that the Defence Instruction (G) PERS 33-4
(the Defence Instruction) be readily accessible to members of the public, for
instance by making it available on the Department of Defence website (JSOCT, Report
63, [8.49]). The Defence Instruction sets out the minimum age of voluntary
recruits into the ADF and the safeguards that are to be applied to the recruitment
and employment of persons under 18 years by the ADF, including the safeguards
to be applied in times of armed conflict. JSCOT accepted that the Defence Instruction
implements Australia’s obligations under articles 3 and 6(1) of the Optional
Protocol and, as Australia’s implementing mechanism, should be readily
accessible (JSOCT, Report 63, [8.49]).
HREOC understands that the Department of Defence is in process of implementing
JSCOT’s recommendation, though HREOC does not know when this will be
complete. HREOC welcomes moves by the Department of Defence to make the Defence
Instruction readily accessible.
HREOC reiterates its concern expressed to the JSCOT inquiry that the Defence
Instruction be readily available to members of the public. This would ensure
that potential ADF personnel who are under 18 years old, as well as their parents
(and any other person) have access to information about the recruitment and
employment of persons under 18 years old by the ADF, at short notice if necessary.
It would also further assist Australia to comply with its obligation under
article 6(2) of the Optional Protocol to promote the principles and provisions
of the Optional Protocol. A
copy of the submission made by HREOC to the JSCOT inquiry is attached, for your reference.
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Website: Legal Information
John von Doussa QC
updated 16 August 2005.