Important Legal Briefing- From Sydney Human Rights Monitors

For all of those who plan to excerise their cvil and human rights in Eora Country over the course of Asshole Politicians Excrete Capitalism
Love,and Solidairty to All.
Haere Atu apec

2 September 2007

Special Melbourne edition !!!

This edition of the Human Rights Monitors Info Sheet is intended for those coming to Sydney form Melbourne and other non-Sydney locations around Australia.
The meeting of 21 of the world's leaders to Sydney has led to unprecedented security measures being taken during their visit. Special powers have been given to police under the APEC Meeting (Police Powers) Act 2007 and these will be in force from August 30 to September 12. The main APEC event is the Leaders' Week, with September 7 (the Friday) a public holiday.

Although this was written on 2 September 2007, the situation in Sydney is fluid and it would be a good idea to try and get an update from locals when you arrive in Sydney.

Who's who

The main protest march, planned for the Saturday, is being organised by the Stop Bush Coalition ( http://stopbush2007.org). A number of autonomous actions are also being organised by Flare in the Void ( http://flareinthevoid.wordpress.com). Some actions may also be organised by other groups. Some information about events is deliberately not mentioned in this newsletter as the details are confidential.

What's when

The following information on the Stop Bush Coalition is from the website, Flare in the Void info is from their August 2007 zine, and other information is from the corporate press. You should check with each group that the information is still accurate.

Tuesday 4th

rally at 5.00pm to mark the arrival of Bush in Australia. At the time of writing, the location is undecided, but is probably Central. Please check
http://stopbush2007.org for more info. Organisers estimate 1,000 people.
Opening of Flare in the Void from 5.00pm-ish. To find out where Flare in the Void is being held, text 0434 585 264.

Wednesday 5th

Student strike. Organisers estimate 1-2,000. Please check
http://stopbush2007.org for more info.
Flare in the Void workshops.
Legal training sessions for legal observers. 6.00-8.00pm at University of Technology, Sydney, Students Association Backroom. Building 1 (the main building), opposite Central station.

Thursday 6th

Flare in the Void decentralised actions day across Sydney. Contact Flare in the Void for more info.

10.00am Flare in the Void legal briefing for latecomers.
Falun Dafa protest, march from Hyde Park through Sydney CBD
Friday 7th
A public holiday in the Sydney Metro area.
Falun Dafa protest - CBD
Maritime Union of Australia protest - Hyde Park
Chinese Freedom rally - location not known.
Flare in the Void workshops.
1.00pm (perhaps 2.30pm). Flare in the Void Legal briefing for latecomers.
Stop Bush 2007 convergence in Newtown. Check website for more info.

Saturday 8th

The main protest march. Police estimate 5-10,000 will attend. Check
http://stopbush2007.org for more info. The march route is contested. A meeting of the Stop Bush coalition on 27 August 2007 reaffirmed its march route (Town Hall/George St/Martin Place/Hyde Park). The police have consistently opposed this march route and as of today there is no agreement. The last meeting of Stop the Bush before the protest will be on Monday 3 September 2007. Again, check the website for more details.

Vietnamese community protest - Belmore Park
Amnesty International protest - Victoria Park
Chinese People for 2008 Olympics - Chinatown
Sunday 9th
Mutiny chill-out picnic.
The legal stuff: restricted areas and declared areas

The Act introduced for APEC speaks of two types of security zones: "restricted areas" and "declared areas". To make them easier to visualise, this article will refer to them as red areas and green areas (respectively).
The red areas are areas of maximum security. Police may search all non-residential premises without a warrant. It is likely that they will be surrounded by fences and armed police. There is a legal obligation to provide ID to a police officer on request. It is an offence punishable by 6 months imprisonment (in some circumstances, 2 years) to try to enter a red area without special justification. Special justification means that you live or work in the area: it is up to you to prove this if you are claiming a special justification for being in a red area. The rest of this article will only speak about green areas. It is assumed that, as a protester, you will get nowhere near a red area. There is no legal obligation to tell the public where the red areas are, but press reports indicate the Sydney Opera House, Government House, various hotels and the Sydney Convention/ Exhibition Centre. The rest of this article will only speak about green areas.

Green areas: geography, check points, cordons and road blocks

The largest green area is that part of the CBD north of King Street. There is a presumption that members of the public can enter and leave the green areas. At the entrance to green areas, or once inside a green area, the police may set up check points, cordons or road blocks in order to stop and search people or vehicles. The police can close roads.

The largest green area includes most of the CBD north of King Street, Hickson Road and parts of Darling Harbour. Part of this area will be fenced off in any event, with a 2.8 metre tall fence, running along Bridge St, the location of the Australian Stock Exchange. At the time of writing, the fence has been extended so that it covers much of downtown Sydney, near Martin Place, and Circular Quay, where the ferries are. The fences are secured by concrete blocks and seem impossible to push over.
On August 24, other green areas were added: Sydney airport, RAAF Airbase Richmond, parts of Kirribilli, the Icebergs Club and surrounds in Bondi, and a number of hotels (the Sheraton on the Park in Elizabeth St, Hilton Hotel on George and Pitt Sts, Observatory Hotel, Kent St and the Marriott Hotel, College St.). The law allows for the Minister to add other green areas. Check the daily press for details for any added green areas closer to the day.

Note: the press speaks of "no-go areas." This is inaccurate, as that might indicate a red or a green area. Check with the APEC legal hotline (below).
Green areas: searches and prohibited items
The police may do a pat-down search as a condition of entering the green area. A person's entry may also be made conditional upon giving the police a prohibited item. A police officer who is given or seizes a prohibited item doesn't have to give it back.

Prohibited items are spray paint cans, chains, handcuffs or other devices capable of being used to lock persons to other persons or things, poles that are more than 1 metre in length, marbles, ball-bearings or other similar spherical items, smoke devices, flares, flammable or noxious liquids or substances, laser pointers, devices that are capable of being used to interfere with broadcast or communication devices. Regulations closer to the time might add other items to the list.

Green areas: reasonable directions and showing ID
Police officers have the power to give reasonable directions to any person or group providing that it substantially assists security, safety or "in preventing or controlling a public disorder." There is a clear obligation to give your name to a police officer upon request if they are in a red area. There is no clear obligation to do so in a green area. A police negotiator advised a representative of Stop Bush 2007 on August 17 that people will be have to show their IDs to police officers in the green areas. However, this is legally doubtful. If asked for your name or ID, consider asking the police officer if you are legally obliged to do that and what the basis of that obligation is. Some people have been reported that they will enter the green area without ID in order to test police powers.

Refusing to comply with a "reasonable direction" is not an offence, but allows the police to escort that person from the green area. The legislation does not appear to provide a limit on how far a person can be escorted from the green area, but in past protests the police have arrested people for breach of the peace and then escorted them many miles away and the released them. This is of doubtful legality.

Green areas: keeping people out and the excluded persons' list
A person can be excluded from a green area if they fail to agree to a pat-down search; fail to agree to their vehicle being searched on entering; unlawfully resist, hinder or obstruct a police search; fail to give up a prohibited item as a condition of entry; are on a road closed for APEC purposes or fail to comply with a reasonable direction. One of the powers that have gained media attention is the creation of an excluded persons' list. No criminal convictions are necessary to be on the list. It is only necessary that the Police Commissioner satisfy himself that a person would pose serious threats to the safety of persons or property in a green or red area. No more specific criteria have been announced so far. Police have said they will write to people beforehand saying that they are on the list, but they don't have to legally keep this promise.

According to media reports, 29 people are on the excluded persons list. A Sydney tabloid has published the names and photos of 27 of them. There may be another list (or lists) for private police consumption. You will only know if you are on this list when told by the police - perhaps even at the entry to a green area.

Bail laws have been changed in relation to three offences: assaulting a police officer, throwing a missile at a police officer and maliciously damaging property. There is a presumption against bail for people charged with these offences. This is open to abuse, as any act of escorting a person from the green area, or any arrest, can easily allow the police to manufacture an allegation of assault.

We have been advised that those arrested during APEC will be taken to Parramatta and Surry Hills police stations. The police have boasted that they can process up to 500 people. The Act allows for special audiovisual links in relation to bail applications for these offences. If arrested after 2.00pm or so, it may be difficult to get in a bail application that day. It may take longer to process out of state persons as the police of that state will be contacted by NSW police.

If appearing before a court, it may be the case that you are subjected to a strip search. It should be performed in minimum time and with respect. It can be (but does not have to be) humiliating - it happens to people in prison all the time.
People arrested may be detained in buses. You may be there a long time. Consider having medication or a medical certificate if prolonged detention will cause problems. This will not guarantee that the police look after you, but it may help.

This newsletter has only one passage in bold and in a box, because it is so important:

If arrested, do not give an interview or make any comments about any alleged offences. Anything you tell a police officer is never off the record. Threats to charge you if you don't give an interview are bullshit - they will charge you anyway.

Human Rights Monitors: policing the police
Human Rights Monitors are a Sydney-based community group, mainly of law students and lawyers, who are concerned about aggressive policing and protests. We will be attending the main APEC protests and other actions by invitation.
We will be wearing marked yellow vests and normally operate in pairs. Our aim is to collect eye-witness, photographic and video evidence of any misbehaver or illegal activity by the police. We will also be handing out bust cards, which will have the phone number to ring in case you want to speak to a solicitor for legal advice.
We will have 20-30 Human Rights Monitors, a number working 'undercover' and 30 solicitors on-call to give phone advice.

Further information
An 8-page leaflet will be handed out by Human Rights Monitors at protests, Flare in the Void and elsewhere on request. A limited number of workshops for particular groups can be arranged. Contact Dale on dalemills@cantab.net or 0422 644 363 for more information about Human Rights Monitors.
The APEC Legal Hotline will be 0401 427 588 or 0432 598 318. This number will be open during the main protest days and also be distributed on stickers and laminated business cards.

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