MEDIA RELEASE: Lawyers, academics and community groups unite in opposing proposed anti-terror laws
SYDNEY, 26 Sep 2005 – A Coalition of community lawyers, policy workers, advocates and legal academics sent a report on the Prime Minister’s 12-point proposal to strengthen the anti-terrorism laws to State leaders ahead of the COAG meeting on Tuesday 27 September 2005.
The 46-page report, "Laws for Insecurity? A Report on the Federal Government’s Proposed Counter-Terrorism Measures", details various concerns regarding the Federal Government’s proposals. It highlights the lack of justification for the laws. Among other concerns emphasised are the substantial departures from key principles of a liberal democracy, the constitutional problems, and the lack of safeguards. Each of the 12 proposals is also analysed.
The Report calls for the immediate withdrawal of the proposals and urges the Federal Government to defer adoption of any proposals until key reviews of current anti-terrorism laws have been completed.
“If adopted, these new counter-terrorism laws will mark serious departures from key principles of a liberal democracy, in particular the presumption of innocence,” said Ms Annie Pettitt, a co-author of the Report and Co-convenor of the National Human Rights Network of the National Association of Community Legal Centres (NACLC). “They will lower the threshold for the use of coercive powers, which will mean that a much wider range of individuals could be subject to detention, restrictions on movement and compulsory questioning.”
“These laws take away the rights of all Australians, but those in the firing line are Muslims,” said Mr Joo-Cheong Tham, Law Lecturer, Melbourne University and Liberty Victoria Committee Member. “All of the homes raided by ASIO have been of Muslims, and the vast majority of those raids have not led to arrests. The removal of existing safeguards and broad and uncontrolled powers such as stop and search open the door for even greater discriminatory application against Muslims.”
"The Federal Government is pressuring the State Governments to implement a regime for preventative detention that would enable them to detain people who have not been charged or tried of any offence, for up to 14 days,” said Vicki Sentas, Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria). “The Prime Minister himself has acknowledged that there may be constitutional problems if these powers were introduced by the Federal Government. We say that if it’s unconstitutional, then it’s inappropriate to circumvent the constitution.”
The Report is available here.
For more information, contact:
Annie Pettitt: 0416 123 077
National Association of Community Legal Centres
Joo-Cheong Tham: 03 8344 7030
Law Lecturer, Melbourne University and Liberty Victoria Committee Member
Vicki Sentas: 0414 906 830
Federation of Community Legal Centres Victoria
Waleed Kadous: 0403 440 586
Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network
To download a pdf version of this Media Release, click here.