Legal bodies and community organisations today joined forces to call on the Commonwealth Attorney General to complete the statutory reviews of existing counter-terrorism laws before the introduction into Parliament of any new counter-terrorism laws.
The Government’s calls for new laws ignore the raft of expansive laws passed since 2001. It is imperative that the adoption of any new counter-terrorism laws be preceded by proper consideration of existing measures and their efficacy, said a Vicky Sentas, a spokesperson for the coalition.
Under the Security Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Act 2002 (Cth), the Attorney General is required to ’cause a review of the operation, effectiveness and implications’ of several key terrorism laws as soon as practicable after 5 July 2005.
In addition the Parliamentary Joint Committee on ASIO, ASIS and DSD is to conduct a review as soon as practicable after July 2005 of various counter-terrorism laws.
The laws to date represent some of the most serious erosions to the rule of law and criminal justice standards in western democracy. Accountability measures such as statutory review were implemented as a limited safeguard. For the government to rush to consider new laws without deliberating its own accountability frameworks is a foolhardy move, said the Vicky Sentas.
The existing counter-terrorism laws were commonly acknowledged by Government and concerned community organisations as exceptional when they were introduced. It is time to reconsider their utility before building on them, and making them a part of the furniture in Australia, particularly in the new political environment where the Government holds both Houses of Parliament in its hands, said the Jane Stratton, a spokesperson for the coalition.
The broad coalition of groups making the call on the Government includes Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, the Public Interest Advocacy Centre, the National Association of Community Legal Centres, the Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network, the Islamic Council of NSW, the Islamic Council of Victoria, the NSW Civil Rights Network and the Civil Rights Network of Victoria, the Muslim Council of NSW and the Islamic Society of Victoria, with the support of Liberty Victoria.
MEDIA CONTACT: Dominic O’Grady, Media and Communications Officer,
Public Interest Advocacy Centre. Ph: 02 8898 6532 or 0400 110 169