Mandatory sentencing assessed against regional systems for the protection of human rights


This paper addresses the debate on Northern Territory mandatory sentencing laws by surveying the regional institutional structures that have emerged in other parts of the world to bind governments to international human rights laws. These include the American Commission on Human Rights and the American Court of Human Rights, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, the institutions of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights, and European Union institutions. Northern Territory mandatory sentencing laws are alleged to have breached three fundamental human rights norms, concerning the independence of the judiciary, the imposition of arbitrary, cruel, and disproportionate punishment, and racial discrimination, and the article concludes that if mandatory sentencing laws were introduced in their respective jurisdictions, they would be closely scrutinised by all of these regional human rights bodies and doubts would almost certainly be raised about their legality. (Introduction, edited).

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