Action Alert: Make a submission to review of ASIO powers
Friday, 11 March 2005

 

The Federal Government is reviewing some parts of the anti-terrorism legislation it introduced three years ago. In particular, they are reviewing the powers ASIO has to detain people that are not even suspected of being involved in terrorist activities for seven days.

 

YOU can make a submission that will have an impact on this legislation; but you must move quickly. Making a submission is as easy as putting your thoughts in an e-mail or a fax.  If you are unsure what to write, we have also a pro-forma submission that you can use.

 

DEADLINE for submissions: 24 March 2005

 

When the anti-terrorism legislation was first introduced in 2002, it granted the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) certain powers. These powers were very far-reaching. These powers include:

  • the power to detain a person for up to 7 days. You don't have to be suspected of being involved in terrorism. You can be detained simply because ASIO thinks you might know something.
  • the power to question a person for up to 48 hours if they need an interpreter (24 without an interpreter).
  • If you are detained, you can't tell anyone about it for two years; not even your spouse, parents or family members or your employer.
  • As soon as ASIO seeks a warrant for you to be detained, you have to surrender your passport.

The danger is that these powers are not just used against criminals, but may be used against innocent people, intentionally or unintentionally. When the legislation was originally introduced, a review of the legislation The Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network (AMCRAN - http://amcran.org/) is an organisation dedicated to providing a Muslim perspective in the civil rights arena in Australia, and defending the civil rights of Australian Muslims. It is working with other civil rights organisations like the Civil Rights Network in Sydney and Melbourne and the UTS Community Law Centre in encouraging people to make submissions to a review of the powers granted to ASIO. The review is being conducted by the ACTION We urge every person to write to the Committee to let them know our opposition to these laws.

The Prophet (SAWS) said: "He who amongst you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand; and if he has not strength enough to do it, then he should do it with his tongue, and if he has not strength enough to do it, (even) then he should (abhor it) from his heart, and that is the least of faith."

 

Islam has a rich civil rights heritage -- whether it be in the areas of justice, equality, freedom or privacy. Preventing innocent people being detained -- whether they be Muslim or non-Muslim -- is fulfilling part of the obligation to enjoin good and prevent evil.

 

Writing to the committee is very easy. It doesn't have to be formal or legalistic. It would be best if you write your own letter to the committee.

 

The UTS CLC has produced a very useful kit to help with the process. The information sheets give a good overview of the legislation. Information Sheet 6 on Page 17 is particularly useful for submissions -- it suggests some of the different issues to outline.  The kit is available to download from the AMCRAN website (http://amcran.org/files/BeInformed.pdf).

 

For a comprehensive description of the anti-terrorism laws, have a look at AMCRAN's "Terrorism Laws: ASIO, the Police and You" booklet: http://amcran.org/booklet/TerrorLawsV1.pdf

If you do not have time to prepare a letter of your own, we have prepared a pro-forma letter that you can use as is, or cut, copy and paste to suit your needs.

 


All you need to do is add your address, sign it and send it.  If you are e-mailing your submission, you will need to include your name and address so they can verify you are a real person.  However if you want your submission to remain confidential you can ask them to keep it confidential.

 

Note: You do not need to be scared about making a submission. Submissions are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is an offence for anyone to try to stop you from making a submission by threats or intimidation. It is an offence for anyone to harass you or discriminate against you because you have made a submission.

 

There are only about 2 weeks to respond. Act now! Make a submission 24 March 2005 by e-mail, fax or letter to:

 

Committee Secretary
Parliamentary Joint Committee on ASIO, ASIS and DSD
Parliament House
CANBERRA ACT 2600
AUSTRALIA

Phone:  (02) 6277 2360
Fax:      (02) 6277 2067
email:   pjcaad@aph.gov.au

 

If you would like to find out more about the inquiry, visit http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/pjcaad/asio_ques_detention/index.htm

 

If you have any other inquiries please feel free to e-mail us at amcran@amcran.org.