Bills Digest 123 1996-97 International Transfer of Prisoners Bill 1996

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This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments. This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.


Passage History

International Transfer of Prisoners Bill 1996

Date Introduced: 21 November 1996
House: House of Representatives
Portfolio: Attorney-General
Commencement: Sections 1 and 2 commence on Royal Assent. The remainder of the Bill commences on Proclamation.


The Bill provides for the transfer of prisoners to and from Australia, and for the transfer of 'tribunal prisoners' (ie prisoners, who have a connection with Australia, and who are serving sentences imposed for war crimes by the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal and the Rwanda Tribunal) to Australia.


In his Second Reading Speech to the Bill, the Attorney-General, the Hon D Williams, noted several advantages in Australia's participation in the international transfer of prisoners.These include:

  • humanitarian and rehabilitation;
  • relieving pressure on Australia consular's posts; and
  • possible financial savings to the States if there is a net outflow of prisoners.

In relation to the transfer of 'tribunal prisoners' to Australia, the Attorney-General noted that the International War Crimes Tribunals Act 1995 allows Australia to assist the endeavours of the tribunals in a variety of ways.Further, he stated:

Persons convicted by the tribunals are to serve their sentences in countries designated by the tribunals from a list of countries which have indicated a willingness to accept such prisoners.

The Attorney-General also stated that Former Yugoslavia Tribunal has asked whether Australia was prepared to accept persons serving sentences imposed by it.

Main Provisions

Proposed section 5 (Part 1) provides that relevant Commonwealth and State ministerial consent is required before a prisoner may be transferred from Australia or to Australia.

Proposed section 6 (Part 1) provides for the prisoner (or prisoner's representative) to consent to the transfer.

The requirements for transferring a prisoner are set out in proposed section 10 and include the necessary ministerial and prisoner consents.Non-tribunal prisoners who wish to be transferred to Australia must be Australian citizens, or be permitted to remain indefinitely in Australia pursuant to the Migration Act 1958 and have community ties with Australia (proposed section 13).

Tribunal Prisoners

A 'tribunal prisoner' is defined in proposed section 4 as one who is serving a sentence for war crimes imposed by either the Former Yugoslavia Tribunal or the Rwanda Tribunal.

The procedures for the transfer of tribunal prisoners are set out in Part 5 of the Bill.The consent of a tribunal prisoner is not required before transfer to Australia.However, the consent of the Commonwealth Attorney-General and the relevant State or Territory is required (proposed sections 36 and 37).Although a tribunal prisoner need not be an Australian citizen nor satisfy the requirements of the Migration Act 1958, the Explanatory Memorandum states that he or she should have some connection with Australia (p 2).The consent of the Minister for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs must also be obtained (proposed section 57).

Contact Officer and Copyright Details

Max Spry
21 March 1997
Bills Digest Service
Information and Research Services

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine whether the Bill has been enacted and, if so, whether the subsequent Act reflects further amendments.

IRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of the public.

ISSN 1323-9031
© Commonwealth of Australia 1996

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 1997.

This page was prepared by the Parliamentary Library, Commonwealth of Australia
Last updated: 9 April 1997

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