27 March 2018Share
Arguing that deaf people should be allowed to serve as jurors was the finding of a research article led by ACU Professor David Spencer who, with a team of researchers, has been awarded The Australian Journal of Human Rights’ Andrea Durbach Award for Human Rights Scholarship.
Professor Spencer from the Faculty of Law and Business at the Australian Catholic University and Professor Jemina Napier from Heriot-Watt University’s School of Social Sciences commenced researching the issue 12 years ago when they were both at Macquarie University.
The award-winning article, Justice is blind as long as it isn’t deaf: excluding deaf people from jury duty – an Australian human rights breach, was inspired by the current research, as well as the thousands of deaf people in Australia who are denied the right to perform their civic duty in every state of Australia.
The Australian Journal of Human Rights article outlined the findings and stated that if deaf people are not offered the opportunity to serve as jury members, it would be a breach of their human rights.
Professor Spencer, himself a lawyer, said, “The ACT Government has recently amended its Jury Act to prevent deaf people and people with disabilities from being excluded from jury duty.”
“The ACT Government are the first government in Australia to make such amendments to prevent deaf and other people from being discriminated against when it comes to the performance of their civic duty.
“Deaf people in the ACT will now be able to participate in an essential function of the administration of justice and this act alone breaks down another discriminatory barrier.
“We ask other state governments and the federal government to follow the lead of the ACT Government.”
In various states of the USA and in New Zealand, deaf people have been serving as jurors for nearly 40 years.