Friday, November 5, 2004

NAP human rights activists falsely imprisoned

The Home of Democracy? Parliament House, by the shores of Darwin Harbour.

Three members of the Darwin based Network Against Prohibition have been released from Berrimah Prison after they were falsely imprisoned on Monday night.

On the 3rd June 2003, after a sixteen-day hearing in the Darwin Magistrate's Court, the NAP activists were found guilty of 'deliberately disturbing the legislative assembly whilst it was in session'. The activists subpoenaed Chief Minister Clare Martin and other members of parliament who were forced to appear as witnesses at the hearing.

The activists received sentences ranging from fourteen to twenty-one months jail, suspended after five. They were released on bail pending an appeal against conviction and sentence.

In late August/early September, Stuart Highway, Robert Inder-Smith, Gary Meyerhoff and Michael Lambe argued their appeal. Supreme Court Justice David Angel separated the appeal against conviction from the appeal against sentence, which would be held on a later date.

On the 17th of September Justice Angel dismissed the appeal against conviction. On the 4th of October a hearing was held at the Supreme Court.

The NAP activists were not informed about the hearing. Warrants for their arrest were issued. They were not informed that warrants were issued.

Robert, Stuart, and Gary were arrested late on Monday night and taken to the Darwin Watch house where they were refused phone calls or contact with a legal representative.

From there they were taken to the Berrimah Prison to begin five-month sentences for the so-called parliament invasion.

At 6pm today, the trio were released from the prison after Magistrate Greg Cavenagh granted bail.

In a letter to the prison authorities ordering them to release the NAP crew, a staffer from the Department of Justice said 'the appeal was only part heard their bail is still valid.'

NAP activist Gary Meyerhoff said:

"We believe that our arrest was malicious and unlawful. The warrants were issued on the 4th of October and the police didn't act on them until November 1."

"It is only due to the actions of NAP members and our supporters that we have been released from prison so fast."

"On behalf of the three of us I thank everyone who offered resources, support or assistance to the NAP team during this difficult 48 hours." He said.

Hours before the arrests, the Network Against Prohibition released a press statement ridiculing the NT Police drug squad and pointing out the failure of drug prohibition in the NT.

The trio intend to commence civil litigation against the Northern Territory Government.

Meyerhoff said, "The prosecution, Michael Carey and Peter John Thomas, failed to remind Justice Angel that we still had to appeal our sentence," he said.

"They sat silently while warrants were issued for our arrest. Someone must be held accountable for this example of the ongoing harassment and intimidation NAP activists have received from the police state since we started our campaign against draconian drug laws and other human rights abuses two and a half years ago. This is not the first time Peter Thomas has misled the court."

For more information, call Gary on 0415 16 2525 or see the following link: Network Against Prohibition (NAP). 

Australia's federal, state and territory parliaments follow many of the customs and traditions handed down from the British Parliament, which has a history dating back several centuries. In the Northern Territory's Legislative Assembly there are many symbols of these traditions, as well as tangible reminders of the Territory's past.

The Home of Democracy?

Parliament House, by the shores of Darwin Harbour, is the 'home' of the Northern Territory's democratic system of government. In the building's most important room, the Chamber, the twenty-five members of our parliament meet for about thirty-three days each year.

The word 'parliament' comes from the French parliament which means 'speaking', and a great deal of that happens when the members of the parliament come together and affect all our lives by making laws and decisions about how the Territory and its people should be governed.

The official name for our parliament is the Legislative Assembly. The word 'legislative' comes from two Latin words - legis (meaning 'law') and latio ('proposing'). So, 'legislative assembly' literally means a group of people (an assembly) who propose laws. The Home of Our Democracy.

By Gary Meyerhoff and Just Us posted 5 November 04


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