In a speech on the 13th of April 2017 the Chairman of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, The Hon Justice Peter McClellan AM, raised issues regarding the failure of judges and prosecutors to do their jobs properly and therefore fail victims of child sex abuse.
Justice Peter McClellan is also a NSW Supreme Court judge and it is almost unheard of for judges to criticise their follow judges so it is a big call. And as I have reported in the last few posts it is not just members of the public that are raising issues of judicial failings and corruption. Many members of the legal fraternity are also raising issues themselves as the problem is now out of control.
How widespread is child abuse in Australia?
The Child Abuse Royal Commission has documented facts and figures which cannot be disputed that demands action with judicial reform and a broader enquiry into the Australian judiciary.
The Royal Commission Chairman Justice Peter McClellan has given 2 recent speeches in March and April 2017 that outline failings by judges and prosecutors in child abuse cases. (Click here and here to read more)
From the SMH:
Thousands of institutions have been implicated in allegations of child sexual abuse, according to new data released by a royal commission.
As the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse commences its final public hearing, chairman Justice Peter McClellan has urged child protection reform and proper redress for victims.
The $500 million inquiry is Australia’s longest royal commission, starting in 2013 and due to finish with a final report to the federal government in December.
In his opening remarks to the hearing, Justice McClellan said governments and institutions needed to focus on redress and regulatory changes, “designed to ensure that so far as possible no child is abused in an institutional context in the future”.
“Survivors have waited too long for an effective response to their suffering and the future protection of Australian children must be given the highest priority,” he said.
Justice McClellan and five commissioners have heard the testimony of more than 6500 child sexual abuse survivors in private sessions, with another 2000 people still awaiting a meeting.
Data gleaned largely from private sessions found there were more than 4000 institutions where alleged abuse of children occurred.
Counsel assisting the commission Gail Furness SC told the inquiry the statistics are likely to represent a fraction of child sexual abuse survivors. (Click here to read more)
Cardinal George Pell and his infamous line while giving evidence at the Royal Commission about paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale abusing children “It’s a sad story and it wasn’t of much interest to me.“ (Click here to read more)
Sentencing – “More child sexual assault cases in court but fewer convictions: Justice Peter McClellan”
Light sentences for people convicted of historical sexual offences against children could “undermine community confidence in the administration of justice”, the chairman of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will tell a conference of leading legal professionals. (Click here to read more)
Nothing could be truer. One of the most read articles on this website is titled “Paedophile priest gets 3 months jail for raping 3 boys by NSW Supreme Court’s Justice Hoeben“. The reason it is so well read is because it does scandalise the courts when criminals such as paedophile priests get almost no sentence at all and the general public can’t believe it is true.
10-year minimum sentence
Compare the 3-month sentence for the paedophile priest in NSW with the precedents in South Australia where the starting point is 10 and 12 years as quoted by Justice Peter McClellan and it shows what a scandal 3-month sentence is:
In R v D a majority of the South Australian Court of Criminal Appeal held that heavier sentences should be imposed for child sexual abuse matters. They held that unlawful sexual intercourse with children under 12, when there are multiple offences committed over a period of time, should attract as a starting point a head sentence of about 12 years subject to a guilty plea, co-operation with the police, genuine contrition and other mitigating factors. In relation to unlawful sexual intercourse with children over 12 the starting point should be a head sentence of about 10 years imprisonment. Doyle CJ considered the court should take this course ‘because of the seriousness of the crime in question, and because of its prevalence.’ (Click here to read more)
Justice McClellan said that light sentences “undermine community confidence in the administration of justice” and I said basically the same thing in court, only stronger language, and I get charged with contempt of court. (Click here and here to read more) I wonder if Justice McClellan will now be charged with contempt of court?
Some of the recommendations flagged by Justice Peter McClellan for his final report to the Federal Government are:
As part of its criminal justice work the Commission is considering whether oversight or review mechanisms for ODDPs are necessary in the Australian context and, if so, what they might look like.
The Commissioners consider that all Australian DPPs should be able to implement a number of minimum requirements. Those requirements are:
- The adoption of comprehensive written policies for decision-making and consultation with victims and police.
- Ensuring that all policies are publically available and published online.
- Provision of a right for complainants to seek written reasons for key decisions. (Click here to read more)
The failure of judges and prosecutors in this area of law is duplicated across most if not all areas of law and that is why a Royal Commission into the Australian judiciary is long overdue. Obviously it is a Royal Commission that would need oversight from non-judges and non-lawyers if it was to get to the truth.
We need better review processes of decision-making by law enforcement agencies such as the Australian Federal Police
The child abuse Royal Commission is a great example because it is well-funded, has been going since 2013 and reports are well researched. The documented findings show without doubt the failings of the judiciary, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors to do their jobs.
This extends to federal parliament that is badly in need of a Federal ICAC to deal with federal corruption as the Federal Police regularly fail to charge politicians and federal government employees who have broken the law.
Times are changing fast and social media is empowering people to have oversight of all government decisions to some degree but we can still do a lot better. The Australian judiciary and law enforcement agencies are operating well below public expectations in doing their jobs so we need a major overhaul.
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