New South Wales police will have the power to stop and search people, cars and suspicious locations for weapons, without a warrant under new legislation, particularly those who are banned from owning a weapon regardless of reason. This could mean that police will be able to seize illegal weapons held by those with no licence, subsequently assisting to decrease, however slight it may be, the amount of weapons in the wrong hands. This is lawful when authorised by law (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 93).
Unfortunately, the relaxed requirements for a search will mean that targets will be based on discrimination and racial profiling to name a few human right breaches. The new law comes after police seized illegal weapons from the vehicle belonging to a bikie gang member.
These laws are a breach of human rights because according to Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is stated that “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor attacks on his honour and reputation”. It could mean that just because a person has made a mistake in the past which resulted in a ban from possessing a weapon, they are now subjected for life to searches without due cause. They may have received a fine in the past in addition to the ban but they will continue to pay the price.
Human rights “cannot be excluded from any sphere of human life” (Kleinig, 1996) and it should be expected that we have the right to protect ourselves. “Police resources are constantly stretched, so people are increasingly taking responsibility for their own safety with measures that are dangerous to criminals” (Montgomery, 2008). It could be expected that this would refer to within the person’s home to possess a weapon, although the new legislation includes this personal location.
The New South Wales Police Firearms Registry issues licences and permits to those with “a genuine reason for possessing and using a firearm” (Information on obtaining a firearms licence in NSW, 2013) in order to eliminate the possession of firearms and weapons for the purposes of criminal activity. Although this hard-hitting new law may breach the human rights of people in terms of their privacy, home, honour and reputation, those who do right by the law should not be expected to face the impact of this new legislation. In addition, human rights are not absolute and “the power to search persons, private property and buildings is a power essential to prevention and detection of crime” (Commonwealth Secretariat, 2006: 93).
References Commonwealth Secretariat. (2006). Commonwealth Manual on Human Rights Training.
Information on Obtaining a Firearms Licence in NSW. (2013). Firearms Registry. Retrieved from the New South Wales Police website https://www.police.nsw.gov.au/online_serviceS/firearms/licences
Kleinig, J. (1996). The Ethics of Policing. Cambridge University Press.
Montgomery, G. (2008). How do you protect yourself at home? Retrieved from The Telegraph website http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/yoursay/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/bat-girl-steps-up-to-the-plate-during-home-invasion/ (UNAVAILABLE!)
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948).