The High Court has ruled that the Australian Crime Commission cannot require someone charged with an offence to answer questions before his or her trial on the subject matter of the charges, because that would interfere with the fundamental right to remain silent and not incriminate oneself. By a majority of 3:2, the High Court found that it could not have been the intention of the legislators to take away this fundamental right.
In an article in The Australian, RoLIA President, Robin Speed, applauded the decision of the majority for upholding this underlying principle of the rule of law:
‘Our whole process of criminal justice, starting with the investigation of crime and culminating in the trial is accusatorial. This process has evolved to balance the power of the government and the protection of its citizens.
As seductive as the argument may be that compulsory questioning causes no harm because the answers are required to be kept secret and cannot be used by those responsible for investigating and prosecuting the matters charged, the majority was not seduced.’