Victoria’s broken bail laws need urgent fixing. These harsh laws result in the unnecessary detention of many persons accused of committing low-level minor offences and disproportionately affect First Nations people and women. In no uncertain terms, the Coroner’s Court has found that these laws are a “complete, unmitigated disaster” which breaches the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities.
Liberty Victoria has repeatedly called on the Victorian Government to reform this mess. The reverse onus test should be removed, and replaced with a single test requiring the prosecution or police to establish that an accused person is at an unacceptable risk of not appearing at court, interfering with witnesses, or committing a serious indictable offence.
Liberty Victoria is disappointed to learn that the Government may delay the commencement of bail reforms by 12 months, without any apparent ‘good reason’ to do so. Any such delay not only further entrenches injustice within the criminal justice system and contravenes the human rights of Victorians who are entitled to the presumption of innocence, but it will also cause many individuals to have their liberty taken from them, with all that goes with that, as a result of laws that everyone seems to agree are unjust.
The Government should adhere to its commitment to reform Victoria’s harmful bail laws as a matter of immediate priority.