Judge Felicity Hampel makes a good call

The ABC reports that  An Iraqi-born Australian has avoided jail time after being convicted of assisting people smuggling after helping relatives to come to Australia four years ago.

He paid for their accommodation and other expenses while they were en-route in Indonesia and Malaysia.

All three were later assessed as genuine refugees and allowed to stay.

The charges carried a 10-year maximum sentence. Judge Hampel gave Wasim Buka on a two-year good behaviour bond.

Now, Felicity Hampel, like most people speaking from the bench, tend to choose the words very carefully and are normally masters of understatement. When a judge says a witness is of “dubious credibility” it means he’s a lying toad. You often have to look for the subtext when you look at the statements made from the bench.

Here’s what Judge Felicity Hampel said:

In sentencing Buka, Judge Felicity Hampel accepted that he had been motivated by “family loyalty and a sense of family responsibility”, not profit, after himself arriving in Australia by boat in 2000.

“The circumstances of your offending did not involve exploitation of the vulnerable, or seeking to profit from the human misery caused by war or denial of human rights to people from countries less fortunate than this,” she said.

Judge Hampel rejected the idea that she needed to jail Buka in order to deter others.

“The need to impose a sentence which will act as a deterrent … had been overtaken by events,’ she said.

“The bi-partisan support for the policy of offshoring, and the upholding just last week by the High Court of offshore processing means there is no longer any capacity to facilitate the entry to Australia of family members seeking to claim asylum.

“This is not the time or place to discuss the moral obligations of a well-off country to accept welcome refugees and asylum seekers.

“Parliament has chosen to make it an offence for a person in Australia to facilitate the entry of a family member who is fleeing persecution but has no lawful right of entry to Australia.”

Australia’s policy on asylum seekers falls into that category of things are so bad you don’t know where to start criticising them, almost everything about it is  a human rights catastrophe. So it is great when someone like Felicity Hampel stands up and makes some issues clear.

Felicity Pia Hampel SC (born 1 June 1955) was a prominent Australian human rights lawyer and, since 2005, judge of the County Court of Victoria. Hampel’s career as a barrister began in 1981, and she became a Senior Counsel in 1996.

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She has also served as President of the Liberty Victoria, and as Deputy Co-convenor of the Australian Republican Movement in Victoria.[2] Hampel has also served as a Victorian Law Reform Commissioner and is a former Convenor of the Women Barristers Association.


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