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Greens make progress on amending Migration Act to cut mandatory sentences

The Greens have today introduced into the Senate a bill to amend the Migration Act to restore judicial discretion to the courts in deciding sentences for convicted people smugglers.

"The Greens have tabled this bill because the government's much-hyped mantra of being tough on people smugglers is not working and is instead leading to injustice," Greens' immigration spokesperson, Sen. Sarah Hanson-Young, said.

"While people smuggling must be tackled, the government continues to punish only the little fish and never the kingpins that actually control the syndicates.

"The government was warned by the Greens and the legal community nearly two years ago that mandatory sentences would punish the wrong people. Unfortunately, we have been proven right.

"The Greens have heard the concerns of judges who say their courts cannot take mitigating circumstances into account as part of imposing sentence. That's why our Greens' Migration Amendment (Removal of Mandatory Minimum Penalties) Bill 2012 would abolish the five-year minimum mandatory sentences for convicted people smugglers.

"It should be up to a court to determine how harshly a person should be punished, based on all the available evidence.

"The Greens encourage support from members of Labor who know the human rights principles behind our bill, and also Coalition members who want to restore the commitment to the rule of law."

Debate on the bill has been adjourned.


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