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Friday, July 11, 2008

"The mob" misguided on the right to be informed

With the ugly face of the mob on the street in Queensland, the hottest "right to know" issue has become, in the space of a week, our right to be informed about the whereabouts of convicted pedophiles, but why stop there?

Peter Faris QC in The Australian and this editorial in the Gold Coast News are advocating an Australian version of Megan's Law which includes convicted sex offenders in many US states. What next? As Paul Syvret in the Courier Mail says
"..where would such a register of criminals stop? If we are to be told when a convicted pedophile moves in around the corner, why shouldn't we know whether our neighbours are murderers, drug dealers, have a long history of break and enter offences, or are habitual drink-driving offenders? And remember, any such registers only list those who have been convicted. There are countless offenders of all types living quietly among us now. They just haven't been caught yet."

Even the Prime Minister has weighed in although it's not clear exactly what he advocates- a notification system, or no constraint on publication:

".. civil liberties lawyer Terry O'Gorman has called for laws to stop the media revealing the location of child sex offenders, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd also said people had a right to know. Mr Rudd said: "My general view is that the community has a right to know.

"I believe that this is a most sensitive, difficult area and these are sensitive, difficult decisions to be made by the authorities, but I think as a general principle the community does have a right to know.
The public register or notification requirement would be a dangerous step on a slippery path. Notwithstanding, there is no justication for the Courts preventing publication as in this case referred to in a Herald Sun editorial.

Encouraging to some extent that the PM has found his voice on the "right to know." PM, there are plenty of related issues awaiting your attention.

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