Turning the detention centre inside out: Counterveillance of state-organised crimmigration in Australia

A/Prof. Greg Martin1
1University Of Sydney, Camperdown, Australia

This paper proposes crimmigration in Australia should be seen in the broader context of criminalisation that has occurred in other areas since September 2001. Key features of crimmigration in Australia include increased militarisation and secrecy surrounding immigration operations and border control. By outsourcing immigration detention in offshore facilities run by private companies, the paper argues the Australian regime is analogous to Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib; both described as ‘black sites’, or closed institutions, where the rule of law is suspended and external monitoring of conditions and treatment of detainees is absent. Insofar as cruel and inhumane treatment of refugees violates international law, and is part of a deliberate system of bureaucratically administered mistreatment, abuse, and ultimately torture, the paper proposes crimmigration in Australia amounts to ‘state-organised crime’. However, despite efforts to keep conditions in Australia’s offshore detention centres secret (e.g. by criminalising disclosure), information about camp conditions has slowly leaked out. The paper conceives of these actions as examples of ‘counterveillance’, which aim to turn the detention centre inside out in order to hold officials to account and make human rights violations visible in accordance with democratic principles.


Greg Martin is Associate Professor of Socio-Legal Studies in the Department of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney, Australia. He has published widely in criminology, law and sociology, and is sole author of Crime, Media and Culture (Routledge, 2018) and Understanding Social Movements (Routledge, 2015), and co-editor of Secrecy, Law and Society (Routledge, 2015). He is an Editor of The Sociological Review, Associate Editor of Crime Media Culture, and a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Social Movement Studies.


Julian Assange and state crime

Prof. Scott Poynting1
1Western Sydney University, Newtown, Australia

For over six years Australian journalist and WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange has been subjected in breach of international law to what the UN Human Rights Council has twice determined to be arbitrary deprivation of liberty. If he leaves the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he is a refugee with well-founded fear of persecution, he faces arrest by UK authorities for absconding on bail six years ago, because of a European arrest warrant which Sweden has long since withdrawn. If arrested, Assange risks extradition to the US to a similar fate to Chelsea Manning. The same danger from the Swedish state was why Assange declined six years ago to travel to Sweden to be interrogated in the conveniently timed and contrived assault and sexual misdemeanour case which has since been dropped. Assange has committed no crime under British law, or indeed Australian law.

The WikiLeaks Afghan war logs, the Iraq war logs and the ‘Cablegate’ documents, all published by WikiLeaks in 2010, revealed war crimes including the knowing and deliberate or reckless killing of civilians, among them children, by US forces in Afghanistan, and then torture, rape and murder of civilians in Iraq, and then (among other crimes) massive and unlawful spying by US and UK states on their own citizens. This paper argues that Swedish, UK and US state threats against Assange are because of his revelations of state crimes.


Scott Poynting is Adjunct Professor at Western Sydney University and also in the School of Justice at Queensland University of Technology. He was Professor in Sociology at Manchester Metropolitan University 2007-13, then Professor in Criminology at the University of Auckland 2013-16. His best known (joint) books are Kebabs, Kids, Cops and Crime (2000) and Bin Laden in the Suburbs (2004). His jointly edited Media, Crime and Racism was published by Palgrave in 2018.

Corruption in the Criminal Justice System in Ghana: Perspectives of Criminal Justice Officials

Mr Moses Agaawena Amagnya1,2
1School of Criminology and criminal Justice, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia, 2Griffith Criminology Institute, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia

Corruption is a topical issue across the world, especially, in developing nations. Criminal justice institutions, which are to ensure compliance with the law, are often the last resort for the public to address corrupt practices that occur in other parts of the economy. Yet, such institutions and their officials are affected by corruption or accused of engaging in corruption. Several studies reported that citizens of developing countries in Africa and elsewhere perceived their countries’ criminal justice institutions, especially, the police and judiciary, to be the most corrupt public institutions. However, little research has addressed the views of criminal justice officials themselves regarding corruption within their institutions. This study is based on expert interviews with judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and high ranking police officers within Ghana’s criminal justice system. I will present results focusing on officials’ opinions and assessment of corruption in the justice system.


Moses Agaawena Amagnya is a full time PhD Candidate at Griffith University on international scholarship. He is also a Tutor at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Griffith University and a member of the Griffith Institute of Criminology. Moses has a Master of Philosophy in Criminology from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom, which was a full funded by Cambridge Commonwealth Shared Scholarship. He was previously educated in his home country, Ghana, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Law and Sociology from the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST). He has over eight years of banking experience.


‘Deepening Reform’ in Xi Jinping’s China: the case of China’s criminal trial reforms

Susan Trevaskes1
1Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia

Reform has been the central feature of discourse, governance and legal practice sustaining China’s criminal justice system in China for over forty years. This still holds today, with ‘Deepening Reform’ as one of the four pillars of President Xi Jinping’s ‘Four Comprehensives’ political theory which is his strategy for China’s national rejuvenation. A second pillar of this strategy is yifa zhiguo or ‘governing the nation in accordance with the law’. One important criminal justice system reform introduced under the umbrella of yifa zhiguo is ‘making the trial hearing central to the criminal process’. It is usually referred to in English translations as ‘trial centeredness’ and its procedural justice goals have now emerged as a major agenda of Xi’s justice system reform drive.  The central rationale behind this reform is to prevent miscarriages of justice. In this paper, I examine the political utility of trial centeredness as a reform concept. I seek to identify how it serves to embody a particular notion of reform in China’s authoritarian state. I argue that whereas the trial centeredness concept is indeed to signal and induce reform, the nature of the reform intended through trial centeredness is beyond what we might conventionally understand to be procedural justice reform. Xi Jinping aims to reform hearts and minds to prevent miscarriages of justice, rather than reforming the structures of power that facilitate and enable its abuse.

Susan Trevaskes is professor of Chinese Studies in the School of Humanities, Languages and Social Sciences at Griffith University, Australia. Her China-related research interests include criminal courts, policing serious crime, the death penalty, justice and the political nature of criminal justice in China. She has published sole-authored books in the area of Chinese criminal justice studies: Courts and Criminal Justice in Contemporary China (2007), Policing Serious Crime in China: from ‘strike hard’ to ‘kill fewer’ (2010) and The Death Penalty in Contemporary China (2012). Her co-edited volumes include The Politics of Law and Stability in China (2014), Legal Reforms and Deprivation of Liberty in Contemporary China (2016) and Justice: the China Experience (2017).


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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