Law students help defend Roe 8 protest teenagers

Murdoch University director of Clinical Legal Programs Anna Copeland (second from left) with students Ferhan Siddiqi,  Shauna O'Neill and Lisa van Toor.
Murdoch University director of Clinical Legal Programs Anna Copeland (second from left) with students Ferhan Siddiqi, Shauna O'Neill and Lisa van Toor.

MURDOCH University law students have played a key role in the legal defence of eight teenagers charged for offences committed while protesting against the now shelved Roe 8 project.

Six students from the university’s Clinical Legal Program helped represent the teenagers – aged 14-17 – and negotiate with prosecutors at the Children’s Court.

In some cases, the Murdoch team helped to get charges, such as obstruction and trespass, dropped for their clients.

Some of those charged were put on good behaviour bonds and some were dismissed with no further action.

The students were led by director of Clinical Legal Program Anna Copeland who became involved following a call out for legal assistance that was issued by activist groups fighting Roe 8 before the protests ramped up.

“Because of my experience in youth law, I was sent many of the under 18 protestors who were arrested and charged,” she said.

“It has been a very interesting experience for myself and the undergraduate and postgraduate students involved.

“Most of the students were very supportive of the children and could not believe the police went ahead with prosecutions.

“However, not all of our students agreed. One in particular expressed concern that ‘the teenagers and some of the parents were not taking the charges seriously enough and they should not have been proud of the criminal behaviour’.

“This challenge gave us an opportunity to talk to the students about the democratic right to protest peacefully, the freedom to assemble and the freedom to express political dissent.”

Ms Copeland said the teenagers and their families were grateful for the students’ assistance and had sent personal messages of thanks.

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