UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Inquiry into anti-terror laws
Wednesday, 26 April 2006
 
The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Counter-Terrorism sought submissions for his report on Australia’s counter-terrorism legislation and measures with a view to identifying the compliance of these with human rights standards.

 

A joint submission was prepared by the Combined Community Legal Centres Group (NSW) Inc., NSW Young Lawyers Human Rights Committee, AMCRAN, and the Federation of Community Legal Centres (Victoria).

 

With regard to Australia's counter-terrorism measures, the submission made key observations divided into the following parts:


  • Part I: Addresses the context in which Australian counter-terrorism laws have been introduced and examines how the Australian context has particularly influenced Australia's counterterrorism laws.


Since 2002 the Australian Government has introduced new anti-terrorism laws each year, citing a changed security environment, and without making an adequate case for their necessity. The Australian public has been asked to accept increasingly problematic legislation, that cuts at key human rights and undermines Australia's international obligations, in the name of a threat that has never been fully discussed.


  • Part II: responds to the specific questions posed by the Special Rapporteur for this study, focusing on the implications of counter-terrorism legal and policy developments on the protection of human rights in Australia.


This part addresses the 7 questions posed by the UN Special Rapporteur to guide reporting by State parties.


Question 1 asks State parties to list anti-terrorism legislation currently in force. Question 2 asks parties to state any intention to become a party to the Convention on the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism.


Question 3 asks State parties to identify legislative provisions by which ‘terrorism' is defined. The Report addresses the definitions contained in the Crimes Act 1914 (s1A3(1), Part 5.3).


Question 4 asks parties to identify whether and how such definition(s) meet with the characterisation of terrorism identified by Security Council Resolution 1566 (2004) paragraph 3.


Question 5 asks parties to identify all means by which Australia has responded to Security Council Resolutions 1373 (2001), paragraphs 2(g), 3(f) and 3(g).


Question 6 asks parties to report on how the measures discussed in Question 5 above impact upon the unrestricted enjoyment of rights under various international instruments, and the reasons for and legality of such limitations or impacts.


Question 7 asks parties to identify the existence of any bilateral and regional arrangements on counterterrorism to which Australia is party and the means by which such arrangements provide for compliance with human rights.


  • Part III: Highlights the impacts of the terrorism laws on Muslim and culturally and linguistically diverse communities in Australia.


This section was prepared by AMCRAN and the Federation of Community Legal Centres in Victoria. It was submitted that Australia's anti-terrorism laws have a profoundly disempowering effect on the Muslim community.


Particularly, it was argued that the legislation contributed to Islamaphobia and social exclusion amongst the Muslim community; that discretionary uses of the legislation lend themselves to overpolicing of the Muslim community and Specific offences relating to financing, training and the terrorist organisation offences disproportionately criminalises the political and religious activity of Muslims.


The submission concludes with an extensive annexure of current Commonwealth and Anti-terrorism laws in Australia (also available through www.nationalsecurity.gov.au).

 

To download the joint submission, click here.

To download the attachment, click here.

 

A Report by the Special Rapporteur Martin Scheinin was released in 2006 and entitled Australia: Study on Human Rights compliance while countering terrorism.