Our submission responding to the Discussion Paper 2: Women and girls’ experience of the criminal justice system is limited to the following points:
- Queensland’s Human Rights Act 2019 should be used to guide the Taskforce’s considerations and recommendations.
- The Taskforce should focus on women and girls’ experience of the criminal justice system as victim-survivors and particular attention mustbe given to improving laws relating to consent and mistake of fact.
Due to time and capacity constraints, we have not had the opportunity to engage properly with our members in relation to other issues raised in Discussion Paper 2. On that basis, we have limited our comments to the issues outlined above.
The Human Rights Act 2019 requires the Queensland Government to act in a way that is compatible with human rights. We welcome the Taskforce’s commitment to carefully consider human rights. As information in the Second Discussion Paper demonstrates, sexual violence is a gendered crime. It is therefore appropriate that the Taskforce’s human rights consideration be conducted through a gendered lens.
QCOSS is also supportive of the Taskforce’s proposal to focus on the adequacy of current sexual offences in Queensland, particularly in relation to consent, and the operation of the excuse of honest and reasonable mistake of fact in the prosecution of sexual offences.
Unfortunately however, the Criminal Code (Consent and Mistake of Fact) and Other Legislation Amendment Act 2021 was passed in March 2021 without addressing key issues highlighted by the community services sector and leading academics.
Our concern with the current legislation is that it:
- Excludes the affirmative consent model
- Uses a biased human rights analysis
- Discriminates against people with disability
- Has missed an opportunity to include guiding priciples in the Queensland Criminal Code
- Continues to apply the mistake of fact excuse.
Our response to the Second Discussion Paper is limited and we are concerned that many of our members and the broader community may not have had sufficient time to makea submission to the Second Discussion Paper to inform this important discussion.