Detention without legal representation in NT

A Northern Territory scheme has been criticised for jailing people without due process. Under the Alcohol Mandatory Treatment Act 2013 (NT), a person who police say has been drunk in public three times can be detained in a secure facility for up to three months, without going before a court or receiving legal advice or representation. The president of the Criminal Lawyers Association of the NT, Russell Goldflam, says, “The Act provides that a person can engage a legal representative … but in practice it’s a completely empty right because there aren’t arrangements made for lawyers to be made available.” Observers say that police are applying alcohol laws in a discriminatory way, and “since the law came into effect in July last year, every single person detained under it has been Aboriginal.” Julie Edwards says the NT scheme is extreme compared with other jurisdictions: “In Victoria, secure treatment can only be used where a person has severe health problems and lacks the capacity to make decisions for himself/herself. Under the [Severe Substance Dependence Treatment Act 2010 (Vic)], secure treatment can only be ordered for 14 days and this order must be made by a court.”

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