Former Law Council of Australia president Alexander Ward has been elected as the president of the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association.
“The role is one of leadership in one of the most diverse groups in the world,” Ward said of the Association, which is responsible for promoting the rule of law throughout the 53 Commonwealth member counties.
“The best part is meeting my legal colleagues from around the world who hold these values and advocate for them, often when to do so places them a great personal risk,” he said.
The death penalty, attacks on judges and courts, abuse of sedition laws, abuse of blasphemy laws, sexual discrimination, LGBTI discrimination, child brides, and attacks on lawyers for representing clients are all examples of issues that the Commonwealth Lawyers’ Association covers.
“The laws being abused are the English laws that were introduced in the colonised countries of the old Empire, such as anti sodomy laws and sedition and blasphemy laws.”
In his new role, Ward will work to encourage the repeal outdated laws, such as the death penalty for homosexuality which still exists in a number of Commonwealth jurisdictions.
“We need to deal with laws that the English have abandoned long ago [that are] still flourishing in their former colonies. We must deal with this in a respectful and courteous way,” he said. “In Malaysia, which is a quite progressive and successful country, there is a growing use of sedition laws to crack down on any anti-government commentary. It would be beyond conception in Australia and most other countries with a free press.”