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Extensive Media Coverage of Booklet Launch Print E-mail
Tuesday, 27 July 2004

 

There has been extensive media coverage of the launch of the Terrorism Laws: ASIO, the Police and You booklet by Justice John Dowd and Sen Kerry Nettle. The launch was covered in all media formats, including print, radio, web and even the evening TV news. Media appearances were made by members of both AMCRAN and also other organisations such as the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

 

Stephen Gibbs of the Sydney Morning Herald wasted no time, penning a very clear article entitled Guide to law on terrorism aimed at all in the morning edition on the day. Cameron Murphy of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties did a number of morning breakfast shows around Australia.

 

Waleed Kadous was interviewed by Michael Vincent for the ABC Radio Current Affairs program The World Today entitled Guide to terrorism laws aimed at all Australians.

 

There were also interviews with SBS radio in Melbourne, the Afternoon Show in Sydney with James Valentine, and James Fletcher of Triple J did an interview for Hack, the Triple J current affairs program. Agnes Chong also did an interview with ABC radio.

 

The Greens Web site featured an article detailing Kerry Nettle's participation in the launch and the hosting of the event by Lee Rhiannon.

 

There was also news coverage of the launch on both SBS and TEN News, featuring Philip Ruddock suggesting that "if the guide is as has been reported then it may be seen as somewhat simplistic."

On Tuesday, Stephen Gibbs of the SMH returned to the topic once again, discussing the timely retirement of Justice Dowd in an article entitled PM, Carr attacked as judge pulls plug.

 

Guide to law on terrorism

What would you do if the knock at the door did come one morning - if the agents in dark suits from ASIO wanted to talk to you about terrorism?

 

Remain calm for a start. Ask for identification, and what the officers want. Record their names, the date and the time of their arrival. Ask to see a search warrant, check it has not expired, note exactly what it authorises and make or get a copy.

 

Contact a lawyer, or have someone else in the house contact one. If you have trouble understanding the officers, ask for an interpreter. In the meantime, do not provide information other than confirming your name and address.

 

This advice appears on a checklist in Terrorism Laws: ASIO, the Police and You, a booklet privately funded by Muslims and to be launched today at State Parliament by Justice John Dowd, a former Liberal attorney-general and one-time NSW leader of the opposition.

 

Its authors stress all Australians should be familiar with its contents, and suggest it be kept near the Federal Government-supplied tip sheet on spotting a terrorist and who to call.


"Stick it next to the fridge magnet," recommended the president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Cameron Murphy.

 

Prepared by the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network with Mr Murphy's council and the University of Technology Community Law Centre, the 42-page booklet is "a practical guide to people's rights and responsibilities under the terrorism laws", its authors say.

 

The co-convenor of the network, Waleed Kadous, said the booklet was "of particular relevance to Muslims", but was not aimed at them. "We tried to deliberately target the booklet at non-Muslims," Dr Kadous said. "It's meant for a wider populace."

 

The only section directed specifically at Muslims tries to answer the question "Can [ASIO or police] order me to remove my head covering if I am a Muslim woman?" (The law is unclear).

 

The rest of the booklet asks and answers such questions as: "What is a terrorist act?", "What if I unknowingly end up involved in a terrorist act?" and "What are the different types of terrorist act crimes and the penalties for them?" It covers issues such as "Do I have a right to silence?" and "Can I be compelled to testify against myself?"

 

(You do not have the right to silence if you are detained by ASIO. Refusal to answer questions risks five years' jail, but any information you give ASIO is not admissible against you).

 

The booklet also lists which organisations are considered "terrorist", according to Australian law, and what penalties apply to committing offences - knowingly or not - with a terrorist group.

 

The booklet explains how to deal with an approach by ASIO or the Australian Federal Police, the two main bodies empowered under anti-terrorism legislation.

 

"It is very important to understand the difference between ASIO and the AFP," it states. "For example, ASIO officers can only search, question or detain you if they have a warrant to do so."

 

AFP or state police can detain you without a warrant if they have a reasonable suspicion about your capacity to cause an incident.

 

Stephen Gibbs
Sydney Morning Herald, July 26, 2004

 

Guide to terrorism laws aimed at all Australians

ELEANOR HALL: The producers of a new booklet on how to deal with the country's terrorism laws, say it's not designed to stop people cooperating with intelligence and anti-terrorism authorities.

The Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network say the booklet, which is being launched today and is intended to be widely distributed, is instead designed to inform people about their rights and their responsibilities.

And the producers say its not just aimed at Muslims, but at the wider population and that Federal Police officers will be in attendance when it's launched today by a former New South Wales Attorney-General.

Michael Vincent reports.

MICHAEL VINCENT: For anyone wishing to question the motives of the publishers of the Terrorism Laws booklet, convenor of the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network Dr Waleed Kadous is adamant.

He says they are not questioning the work of ASIO, the Federal Police, nor any other law enforcement agency.

WALEED KADOUS: That's certainly not the intention of the booklet. The intention of the booklet is merely to let people know what their rights and responsibilities are. And it's not meant as an attack on ASIO or an attack on the AFP by any way. In fact, an officer from the AFP will be attending the launch.

MICHAEL VINCENT: The 24-page booklet covers the Federal Government's anti-terrorism laws, which terrorism groups are outlawed, and the penalties for various offences.

It also covers the rights and responsibilities of both the intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the people they may question, whether those people are Muslim or not.

However, as Dr Kadous points out, Islamic organisations are the focus of most of Australia's anti-terror laws.

WALEED KADOUS: Well we would argue that in the current context, Muslims seem to be the group that are most experiencing the effects of this legislation. If you want examples of that, all of the 17 proscribed organisations are Muslim, and that's kind of a bit unusual. Even in the United States, only over slightly half of the proscribed organisations, or their equivalent, the foreign terrorist organisations, are Muslim.

So it seems like especially in the Australian case, the people who bear the brunt of the legislation are the Muslim community.

MICHAEL VINCENT: But as you say even though you produced this booklet, "Terrorism Laws, ASIO, the Police and You", you're saying it is not specifically aimed at Muslim youth?

WALEED KADOUS: That's absolutely correct. It's a guide for all Australians, regardless of their backgrounds. There is one question and one question alone that might be of specific relevance to Muslims regarding the veil and whether ASIO have the right to ask you to remove your veil.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Do you have concerns about the way in which ASIO, the Federal Police or state terrorism police are attempting to gain information in intelligence in the Muslim community, the way they approach different members of the Muslim community in Sydney, for example?

WALEED KADOUS: Although there have been efforts by the AFP, for example, through community liaison officers and so on, I still think that it's an adversarial environment, rather than a cooperative one. And I think there should definitely be a more towards greater cooperation between ASIO and the AFP to track down the real terrorists, if they exist at all, in our community. And I doubt that they do, I really… I haven't come across anything like that, that indicates there is any kind of support for terrorism in Australia.

MICHAEL VINCENT: What would you say to people who would see you issuing this booklet today and think that because you're telling anyone, but in particular Muslim youth, how to deal with ASIO or the Federal Police and on occasions not speak to them, that you're helping to prevent information flow which otherwise might prevent a terrorist attack?

WALEED KADOUS: I think knowledge of the law is the foundation of healthy democracy. I can't see that people knowing what both their rights and responsibilities are is actually counterproductive. In fact, it might actually have the opposite effect on people who might have, when they've seen the punishments and realise how severe the punishments are, and the consequences of their action, might choose not to indulge in terrorist offences, if they were ever considering it in the first place, which is doubtful to begin with.

MICHAEL VINCENT: But what about the effect of cases where cooperation by suspects has actually led to them being charged.

The case of Sydney medical student Izhar-ul-Haque is one example.

During his successful bail appeal it was revealed by the Crown that they were relying on his own admissions – that when he came back from Pakistan after allegedly receiving terrorist training, that he admitted as much to authorities when they questioned him.

This was used by the medical student's defence lawyers, who said that he'd "quite voluntarily assisted police" with a four-hour and a two-and-a-half-hour interview, only to be arrested three months later.

(to Waleed Kadous) Do you believe that there are people in the community who will be afraid of talking to ASIO or the Federal Police because they've seen other cases where significant cooperation has actually led to people being charged?

WALEED KADOUS: I can't question ASIO and AFP's operational procedures. But I think at times it may be that there are other forces involved, in particular political forces, that may actually intervene in ASIO or AFP's actions and we don't know if that's the case or not, it's just possible. And it's very difficult to understand why if you have a cooperative person why you'd then go off and charge them.

ELEANOR HALL: The Convenor of the Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network, Dr Waleed Kadous, speaking to Michael Vincent.

 

Reporter: Michael Vincent

The World Today - Monday, 26 July , 2004  12:22:37


PM, Carr attacked as judge pulls plug

Justice John Dowd, the former attorney-general and state opposition leader, is quitting the Supreme Court bench, citing personal attacks made by the Premier and the Prime Minister 20 months ago.

The 63-year-old guarantees himself a lifetime pension now worth about $155,000 a year, for which he became eligible on Sunday.

 

Yesterday Justice Dowd blamed Bob Carr's and John Howard's attacks on his stance against anti-terrorism legislation for his resignation.

 

The pension comes with 10 years' service and is set at 60 per cent of a NSW Supreme Court judge's salary, now $258,960, and linked to all future rises. If Justice Dowd had resigned at the time of the criticism he would not have received the full pension, which also carries six months' long service leave (on top of six months' long service leave for five years).

 

Justice Dowd, who took most of his parliamentary pension in a lump sum, has not said what he will do in retirement, but it is understood he will remain in public service.

 

He will not return to the bar, where top quality senior counsel can earn much more than a judge's pension. Justice Dowd is also chancellor of Southern Cross University.


In November 2002, as chairman of the International Commission of Jurists, he told a Senate inquiry "it is patently clear" that proposed anti-terrorism legislation "is aimed at Muslims".

His submission said the new laws would be "subverting [liberty] more effectively than terrorism could ever do".

 

He also told the ABC: "You remember the hysteria just before the Olympics ... all we heard were these terrible stories of terrorists were going to come ... Nothing happened. The sky didn't fall in."

In response, Mr Carr described Justice Dowd as "utterly irresponsible", "extraordinarily insensitive" and "divisive".

 

"For goodness sake, can't John Dowd get into his thick head that Bali occurred, that we have a problem here, that these threats are real, and, when triggered, police ought to have the powers to arrest people, to question people, to search people?" Mr Carr said at the time.

 

Mr Howard also accused Justice Dowd of ignoring the separation of powers between government and judiciary by attacking the legislation "in a very partisan way".

 

"Well, you know, you can't have it both ways," Mr Howard said then.

 

At the time, Justice Dowd did not respond.

 

"I took the view that to make any comment would be to involve the [Supreme] Court in an inappropriate discussion," he said last night.

 

"And therefore I elected then not to make further comment."

 

Earlier yesterday, at the launch of a booklet about Australian citizens' rights under anti-terrorism legislation, Justice Dowd had said publicly for the first time that he was retiring because of the attacks 20 months ago.

 

"I gave evidence before that select committee about a year or so ago and decided then when I was attacked by the Prime Minster and the Premier that I would retire from my position as judge, which I do in under three weeks' time to be free."

 

Justice Dowd was unaware of Sunday's 10-year anniversary, but he had set his resignation at August 13, "knowing that that date would be after the time he would be eligible for his full pension", his associate said.

 

By Stephen Gibbs
Sydney Morning Herald, July 27, 2004

 

"What would you do if your house was raided?"

ASIO, the Police and You
Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network
38 pages

 

This pamphlet is big news, if the audience at its July 26 launch is anything to go by. The inspector-general of intelligence and security, Ian Carnell, was there, as was a representative of the Australian Federal Police, and reportedly one of the heads of ASIO. The room was also packed with members of AMCRAN, the Civil Rights Network, the NSW Council for Civil Liberties (NSWCCL) and community legal centres.

 

ASIO, the Police and You seeks to explain what Australia’s “anti-terrorism” laws are and what powers they give ASIO and the AFP. It describes what to do if your house is raided, what to do if you are arrested or detained, where to go for help and how to lodge a complaint.

 

According to Waleed Kadous, co-convener of AMCRAN: “The complexity of these laws has meant that most people — Muslim or otherwise — are unaware as to their rights and responsibilities under these laws as well as the avenues of complaint. It is this gap in understanding amongst the wider community that [we] hope to address with this guide.”

 

NSWCCL vice-president David Bernie told the launch that the powers given to ASIO under “anti-terrorism” legislation are “a threat to all of us”. “On the face of them, the laws don’t discriminate. But their application in the short term may always discriminate.”

 

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle told the launch that “the `war on terror’ is taking away our rights, and it’s not bringing security to us or the region”. She added that Muslim Australians had told her that they were advising their children not to go to rallies or political meetings, and not to donate to Muslim charities.

Vicki Sentas from the UTS Community Law Centre told the audience: “The `war on terror’ has normalised discrimination and racist attacks on Muslim and Arab people around the world.” In Australia, Sentas said, “the laws rely heavily on police and ASIO discretion and religious and racial profiling”, which must be “challenged as a matter of urgency”.

 

Justice John Dowd, president of the International Commission of Jurists and soon-to-retire member of the NSW Supreme Court, officially launched the booklet. He told the audience: “I recently went to a Tamil fundraising function. I went to a similar function a year ago, and I didn’t check that the money didn’t go directly to buying bullets. This function was to buy ambulances.”

 

Referring to the fact that it is an offence punishable by 15 years’ imprisonment to unknowingly give funds to a listed terrorist organisation, Dowd said: “I bought $40 worth of raffle tickets, because I wanted to make a point. I’m appalled that I have to audit my dollar back to Jaffna before I can agree to donate.”

Much of the booklet’s first print run of 4000 has been distributed, but AMCRAN is currently seeking funding to produce a second edition, which they also hope to translate into a number of different languages.

 

Sarah Stephen, Sydney

From Green Left Weekly, issue #592, August 4, 2004.

 
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