ECAJ asks Attorney-General to streamline racial vilification law

August 27, 2009 by Henry Benjamin
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A delegation from the Executive Council of Australian Jewry has met with Attorney-General Robert McLelland in a bid to review the effectiveness of the Racial Discrimination Act.

A-G Robert McLelland

A-G Robert McLelland

Quoting the difficulties experienced in bringing Holocaust-denier Dr Fredrick Toben to justice, Peter Wertheim, the newly-appointed Executive Director of the ECAJ and Robin Margo SC the organisation’s vice-president told the A-G that it had taken 13 years to finalise this particular case.

The delegation suggested to the Attorney-General that well-founded complaints of racial vilification should be dealt with more effectively. Toben’s material had been published on his Adelaide Institute web site. Consequently, the ECAJ has asked the Government to consult with ISP providers in Australia, suggesting  to them that they should impose a voluntary code of conduct banning sites found to be promoting racial hatred.

The Attorney-General suggested that once the Australian Human RightsdCommission publishes an opinion upholding a racial vilification complaint, such a ban could come into effect pending any final determination by a court.

ECAJ President Robert Goot

ECAJ President Robert Goot

Wertheim and Margo also suggested that the current legislation be amended to allow for the total removal of a website should there be repeated offences. They also submitted that the law be amended  to deal with whichever persons were involved in the contravention.

Attorney-General McLelland was asked to consider how to deal with international hate sites. It was proposed  that any new convention should obligate the individual States to enact legislation to require ISP operators within their borders to ban hate-sites.

ACAJ president Robert Goot told J-Wire: “The Attorney-General acknowledged that the current law does not  always provide a quick and effective remedy. He has welcomed the ECAJ proposals and they will be the subject of a review.”

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