TANYA NOLAN: The Premiers may largely be in agreement over the new
terrorism laws, but police and Muslim groups are raising their voices
The Police Federation of Australia says the new
laws will inevitably lead to racial profiling of the Muslim community
and it wants the Federal Government to legislate to protect police
officers from any civil action that may come from focussing their
investigations on any particular group.
say the admission from the Police Federation is proof that their
community is at risk under the new laws, despite assurances to the
contrary by the Prime Minister.
Edmond Roy reports.
ROY: The Prime Minister said it wouldn't happen but Muslim groups have
all along been warning that it'll be members of their community who
will be targeted under the new laws.
This morning, the Police
Federation of Australia agreed. Muslims, the Federation's Chief
Executive Mark Burgess said, would inevitably be in the spotlight,
leading to charges of racial profiling against his officers.
BURGESS: Look, what we're concerned about is that intelligence
generally will identify the type of person who might be under suspicion
for a terrorist attack. That person by and large are not going to be
60-year-old women and 70-year-old men. Unfortunately, more often than
not, the profile will be young men of Middle Eastern appearance.
that's what's happened in the United States, that's what's happening in
the United Kingdom, and we just want to make sure that there's
protection for police officers in Australia if that sort of thing
EDMOND ROY: How can you be covered?
BURGESS: Well, it's a very difficult area. We're just saying to the
Government they need to take into account the concerns that we're
It's inevitable that there will be unintended
consequences of this legislation, and we just want to make sure that
there is some protection for police officers.
EDMOND ROY: While
welcoming the new anti terror laws and the new powers it would grant
its members, the Police Federation was concerned not by the arguments
raised by several human rights experts, but by the fact that they could
be sued for racial profiling.
According to the Federation, the
Government needed to put in place new legislation that would protect
police officers if they were sued.
It's a development that concerns the President of the Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, Simeon Beckett.
BECKETT: One has to be realistic about these sorts of things. I mean,
clearly the main threat seems to be… everybody is conceiving the main
threat is coming from people who are associated with fundamentalist or
extremist forms of Islam, so it's clearly going to be that form, those
people, who are following those extreme forms of Islamism that are
going to be targeted.
EDMOND ROY: Now, if that were the case,
and the Government, as the Police Federation now warns, will have to
legislate to protect police officers from being sued later on, how is
that going to come about?
SIMEON BECKETT: Well, I'd like to see
what the proposals are. I mean, the first we've heard of those concerns
from the police is this morning. I'd be interested to see what they're
proposing in that respect.
I mean, to enact laws that would prevent the civil suits against lawyers, against the police, would be of considerable concern.
ROY: Also causing considerable concern within the Muslim community is
the wide-ranging powers being proposed within the new anti terrorism
Waleed Kadous is one of the founders of the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network.
WALEED KADOUS: The applications of these laws would have a severe impact upon the Muslim community.
me give you some examples from existing legislation to show you how
that happens. There have been dozens of homes raided, and all of those
homes that have been raided have been people of Muslim faith.
the same time, they've only led to a handful of arrests. That means
that there are whole bunches of innocent Muslims whose homes are being
raided, and they're not leading to convictions or anything like that.
Surely that should raise a flag to us that things are going wrong.
example is the listing of terrorist organisations. All of the
organisations listed by the Australian Government are linked, or
self-identified as Muslim groups. That's not the same as in the US.
it seems that at the current time the application of these laws is
having a particular impact upon the Muslim community, and I respond to
the Prime Minister's challenge yesterday and that's what I'd like to
say. They are having an impact. People's homes are being raided, people
of the Muslim faith, and then they're being found not to have done
TANYA NOLAN: Waleed Kadous of the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network.
The World Today , ABC Radio, 27 September 2005