A human rights watchdog has reacted with alarm to calls for police to
be protected from civil suits that may arise as a result of the new
The Police Federation of Australia says the laws will inevitably lead to racial profiling of the Muslim community.
It is calling on the Federal Government to legislate to protect police
officers from any civil action that may come from focusing their
investigations on any particular group.
But the president of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Simeon Beckett, has urged caution.
"To enact laws that would prevent the civil suits against the police would be of considerable concern," Mr Beckett said.
Muslim organisations have also voiced concerns about the laws.
They say the admission is proof that their community is at risk under
the laws, despite assurances to the contrary from Prime Minister John
Waleed Kadous, from the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy
Network, says there is no doubt the application of the new laws will
unfairly single out members of the Muslim community.
"What we are specifically concerned about, what I think will have a
day-to-day impact on Muslims is the stop and search powers," he said.
"Because what will happen is the police will obviously go on the street
and if they think someone is suspicious, someone might be doing
"The people that they're going to be suspicious of are people who look Islamic - whatever that means."
ABC News Online, 27 September 2005