SECTION 2. ACCOUNTABILITY MECHANISMS – PROBLEMS & OPPORTUNITIES FOR REFORM
13. CRIMINAL JUSTICE INSTITUTIONS
The Rule of Law requires that criminal justice institutions – The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) and future Commonwealth Integrity Commission; The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions (CDPP) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) – are independent of political control.
There are serious concerns about the independence of the AFP going back to Commissioner Keelty being pressured to walk back on a statement that going to war in Iraq increased the risk of terrorism against Australians. There have been concerns about AFP decisions on investigations of alleged government wrongdoing and raids on journalists, whistleblowers and union offices that are somehow leaked to the press.[i]
Notification of raids and other forms of evidence gathering is a serious abuse of power. It also undermines the purpose of such activities. Raids are used to secure evidence before there is an opportunity to destroy it. Leaks about future raids undermine that purpose and must, logically, be undertaken for a different reason. This amounts to an abuse of entrusted power and, if done for personal or party political advantage, is seriously corrupt.
The Rule of Law also requires a range of protections for criminal (not civil) defendants, which are also incorporated in the list of Human Rights. These have been eroded too.
[i] Waterford, J. Soft cops are soft-soaping us (Canberra Times 23.2.2019).