Monday, 21 December 2009

Australia: Police guidelines announced

Media Release
18 December 2009

Hon Robert McClelland MP

Minister for Home Affairs
Brendan O'Connor MP

Attorney-General, Robert McClelland and Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor, today announced a new policy to govern law enforcement cooperation with countries that may apply the death penalty.

Successive Australian Governments have maintained a long-standing policy of opposition to the death penalty and it is appropriate that this position is reflected in our law enforcement practices.

From today, new Australian Federal Police (AFP) guidelines governing police-to-police assistance in possible death penalty cases will take effect.

The new guidelines will require senior AFP management to consider a set of prescribed factors before providing assistance in matters with possible death penalty implications, including:
* the purpose of providing the information and the reliability of that information;
* the seriousness of the suspected criminal activity;
* the nationality, age and personal circumstances of the person involved;
* the potential risks to the person, and other persons, in providing or not providing the information; and
* Australia’s interest in promoting and securing cooperation from overseas agencies in combating crime.

The new guidelines will also require:
* Ministerial approval of assistance in any case in which a person has been arrested, detained, charged with, or convicted of, an offence which carries the death penalty; and
* the AFP Commissioner to report biannually to the Minister for Home Affairs about the number and nature of cases where information is provided to foreign law enforcement agencies in potential death penalty cases.

These changes follow a thorough examination of existing policy and represent a balanced and responsible approach that provides greater clarity and accountability, while maintaining our commitment to combating transnational crime.

A copy of the new AFP Practical Guide on International Police-to-Police Assistance in Potential Death Penalty Situations is attached and available at

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