mandatory sentencing for people smuggling - Melbourne Law School

Dec 18, 2012 - unstable assumption that the appellant's primary school education .... merely the deckhand/mechanic and the cook on the boat 'performing.
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MANDATORY SENTENCING FOR PEOPLE SMUGGLING: ISSUES OF L AW AND POLICY ANDREW TROT TER*

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M AT T G A R O Z Z O †

[The mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment for people smuggling have attracted substantial judicial criticism in recent years. A series of legislative amendments has broadened their application; decisions of intermediate courts of appeal have increased their effect; and a Senate inquiry has recommended against their repeal. Difficult questions of law surround the constitutionality of the regime and its compatibility with Australia’s obligations at international law. In addition, the effect of these developments on indictees and their families raises important questions of policy. Does the punishment match the culpability of offenders? If not, is it justified by the need for deterrence? If so, does the scheme achieve that objective? An analysis of the laws and their application reveals that the answers to all three are in the negative. This article contends that mandatory sentencing for people smuggling is unjust and unnecessary, if not invalid, and locates areas for change in all three arms of government.]

CONTENTS I Introduction .............................................................................................................. 555 II Desirability of the Scheme ...................................................................................... 557 A Punishment and Culpability ...................................................................... 558 1 Culpability: A Profile of the Offenders ........................................ 558 2 Punishment: A Survey of Sentences Imposed ............................ 563 (a) Sentences before the Mandatory Regime ............................. 563 (b) Mandatory Minimum Sentences ........................................... 566 (c) Aggravating Factors and Sentences beyond the Mandatory Minimum ............................................................. 568 B Deterrence .................................................................................................... 571 1 The Need for Deterrence ............................................................... 571 (a) Danger to Passengers .............................................................. 572 (b) Sovereignty and Asylum ......................................................... 573

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BA, LLB (Hons) (QUT).



LLB (Hons) (QUT).

553

554

Melbourne University Law Review

[Vol 36:553

(c) Capacity and Priority .............................................................. 577 2 Evaluation of Deterrent Effect ...................................................... 579 III Validity of the Scheme ............................................................................................. 581 A Validity under International Law .............................................................. 582 1 Infringement of Civil Rights Guaranteed by International Law ........................................................................... 582 (a) Arbitrary Detention ................................................................ 582 (b) Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment ............................ 583 (c) Detention of Children ............................................................. 584 (d) Right to a Fair Trial.................................................................. 586 (e) Discrimination ......................................................................... 587 2 Noncompliance with Obligations under the Refugees Convention ....................................................................... 588 B Constitutional Validity ............................................................................... 589 1 The State of the Law ....................................................................... 590 2 The Room for Argument ............................................................... 592 3 Developments since Palling ......