'De-programming' same as torture Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 March 2006


CIVIL libertarians have said a proposal by the Federal Police chief to "de-program" terrorists is tantamount to torture, but Muslim groups say it may have merit.


Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty has said Indonesia is using a former Jemaah Islamiah leader, Malaysian-born Nasir bin Abbas, to help in the deprogramming of convicted terrorists.



The cleric attempts to turn extremists to a more moderate faith and provides information on terrorist operations to Indonesian authorities.


The process is also understood to have been used in Singapore, the United Kingdom, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.


Mr Keelty said the idea, which he likened to drug rehabilitation, has been raised at a policy level in Australia during talks about anti-terrorist control orders.


But Australian Council for Civil Liberties spokesman Terry O'Gorman compared the practice to torture.


"These countries the police commissioner mentions are involved in torture," Mr O'Gorman said.


"This deprogramming is part of the same basket of procedures."


Mr O'Gorman said there was no evidence to suggest that the practice, which was better described as "brainwashing", was effective in deterring terrorism.


"Mr Keelty draws the analogy with drug traffickers becoming informers, the reality is that someone in prison who becomes an informer knows that they face the risk of severe bashings in prison and that risk continues when they re-enter the community," he said.


"And, further, the reality is there is no inducement for this to happen, they are not going to get a discount for their sentence for participating in the exercise."


Mr O'Gorman said the proposal also failed to address the root cause of terrorism, political or ideological discontent and victimisation.

Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network spokesman Waleed Kadous said a voluntary scheme had merit.


"It's important to highlight that already many respected scholars in the Muslim community are informally deconstructing terrorism and condemning terrorism to their congregations already," he said.


"If it's voluntary we have no objection to it, but the problem once you make is compulsory is it just won't work because religious leaders who do so will be seen as instruments of the government and will lose credibility to those people.", 9 March 2006

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