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August 8, 2014

Australian government prepares legislation to restrict travel of Australian fighters overseas

Australian government prepares legislation to restrict travel of Australian fighters overseas

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Friday, August 8, 2014

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On Tuesday, the Australian Cabinet approved the “Counter Terrorism Foreign Fighters Bill” which is to be introduced into the Australian Parliament between August 26 and September 4. The bill follows after the “National Security Legislation Amendment Bill” which was introduced into the Parliament on July 16 and is now before the Australian Senate.

Attorney-General George Brandis mentioned at a joint press conference in Canberra on Tuesday, he has “been asked to develop — in consultation with relevant stakeholders, in particular, in the telecommunications sector — a system of mandatory data retention. That legislation has been approved in principle and is in development from today and is to be introduced into Parliament later in the year”. As Tony Abbott mentioned, “the Government’s proposals to change 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act […] are now off the table”.

The proposed legislation would change the “Commonwealth Crimes Act“, to include provisions currently found in the separate “Crimes (Foreign Incursions and Recruitment) Act”. It would expand the definition of armed hostilities, to keep up-to-date with the current terrorist activities, from “The Terrorism, Incursions and Recruitment Act” of 1978. An important provisions of the proposed laws would make traveling to places with active terrorism an offence, as defined by the Minister for Foreign Affairs. With stated intention of “preserving national unity”, Tony Abbott cancelled controversial changes to section 18C of the discrimination act which George Brandis had promoted.

“Not everyone who goes to the Middle East is a bad person”, cautioned Labor Party leader Bill Shorten. “I think we have to be very careful in this complex situation about demonising Australians of Middle-Eastern backgrounds […] So I think we need to be balanced in our approach, maintain our national security but also not try and blame everyone or tar everyone with the same brush.”

“There’s no question that Australia needs to be vigilant against terrorism but we must insist on ways to protect Australians from terrorism without overturning the fundamentals of our justice system”, said Greens Senator Penny Wright. “Clearly we would need to see the detail of any legislation but as it’s been described so far, it seems that this legislation could see Red Cross and other humanitarian workers in declared zones having to face court to prove they’re not terrorists. This law could also see Australian journalists reporting from countries like Syria or Iraq presumed guilty of terrorism.”

Penny Wright also warned against removing the legislation’s sunset clause. “The Australian Greens would be very concerned about any legislation that further restricts civil liberties and removes scrutiny and oversight. There’s a very important balance to strike between security and freedoms, and we would not want to see very legitimate security concerns be used to permanently erode human rights.”

There has been a significant increase in Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) cancellations of Australian passports over the last year. To make it easier for ASIO to complete security assessment of suspected individuals, the government-announced proposals include the power to temporarily suspend an Australian passport, or foreign passport of a dual national, on ASIO request, a change recommended by the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor.



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July 11, 2010

Colombian journalist denied entry into US

Colombian journalist denied entry into US

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe has accused journalist Hollman Morris of being “an accomplice of terrorism” in the past.
Image: Center for American Progress.

The Obama Administration has denied Colombian journalist Hollman Morris entry into the United States, citing violation of the “terrorist activities” section of the USA’s Patriot Act. Morris was attempting to obtain a visa to attend Harvard University’s Nieman Program, which is a fellowship for journalists.

The journalist has called attention to ties between outgoing Colombian president Alvaro Uribe, and right-wing militia groups in the war-plagued South American country. Human rights activists have speculated that Uribe might have influenced the visa denial. Morris’ phone has also been tapped by the DAS, the Colombian state security agency, which is Colombia’s CIA counterpart.

Though the exact reason for Morris’ visa denial is unclear, when Morris went on-site to cover the release of four Colombian security force members’ release by FARC rebels, Uribe called the journalist “an accomplice of terrorism”.

After the news broke that Morris had been denied entry into the US, Robert Giles, curator of the Nieman Foundation and former Gannett newspaper editor, commented that “[w]e were very surprised. This has never happened before.” Also in an interview Friday, Morris said “[i]f you have proof that I am a guerrilla, then why not put me in jail? Why just this campaign to discredit?”



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January 13, 2010

European court in Strasbourg rules UK\’s Terrorism Act in breach of human rights law

European court in Strasbourg rules UK’s Terrorism Act in breach of human rights law

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Crime and law
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An international court in Strasbourg issued a ruling yesterday that powers allowing UK police to stop and search anyone without reason are in breach of European law. The European Court of Human Rights deemed powers contained in the Terrorism Act 2000 denied the human right of privacy.

Under the European Convention of Human Rights people in the UK are granted the right to privacy, although their government felt that the threat of terrorism meant that the breach of this was justifiable and allowable under exemptions in the Convention. Previously, the powers have been unsuccessfully challenged before the English and Welsh High Court, upheld by those nations’ Court of Appeals and finally upheld again before the UK’s House of Lords.

Section 44 of the Terrorism Act allows the Home Secretary to designate an area for use of the powers for a certain period. If this period was more than a month then at the end of the month then the Home Secretary can renew them. The entirety of Greater London has spent several years with the powers in effect. Under the Act, the police do not need to have any reason to search whoever they like and have the power to confiscate articles they believe to be of use to terrorists. They can also make arrests if these are found.

Yesterday’s ruling was made in a case brought by Kevin Gillan and Pennie Quinton, both stopped outside a military exhibition in London’s Docklands area. Gillan was stopped while cycling past and kept there for twenty minutes while journalist Quinton was ordered to stop filming even after showing her press card. She claims to have been detained for roughly thirty minutes at the scene, while police claim she was there for five minutes. The court awarded €33,850 (£30,400) to cover the costs incurred by bringing the case.

UK Home Secretary Alan Johnson expressed disappointment at the ruling and stated that an appeal will be launched. Chief Constable Craig Mackey of the Association of Chief Police Officers said that while this appeal was pending Section 44 of the Act would continue to be used by police.

The court found that the humiliation and embarrassment of searching people in public was a clear breach of privacy as well as criticising that the way power was authorised did not require a test that its use be “necessary,” merely “expedient.” The court singled out London’s designation under the Act as an area where the powers could be used continuously since it became law as an example of why this was not appropriate.

Further criticism in the ruling was aimed at the idea that the decision to search could be “based exclusively on the ‘hunch’ or ‘professional intuition’ of the police officer”. The judgement added that “the absence of any obligation on the part of the officer to show a reasonable suspicion made it almost impossible to prove that the power had been improperly exercised,” with no judicial oversight. Racism was a further concern, with the court expressing a fear that the powers could easily be used in a discrimminatory manner. Four times as many blacks and Asians have been searched compared to whites.



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June 2, 2009

Canadian victims of terrorism will be able to sue perpetrators

Canadian victims of terrorism will be able to sue perpetrators

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

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This week new legislation for Canadian courts would enable victims of terrorism to sue anyone who either commits an act of terrorism or funds terrorism acts.

“We will introduce legislation that will give victims of terrorism the power to obtain just compensation from those responsible for their suffering,” said Prime Minister of Canada, Stephen Harper. “By amending the State Immunity Act, this bill will allow victims to sue perpetrators and sponsors of terrorist acts, including foreign states, in Canadian courts.”

The announcement was made at the Canadian Jewish Congress 90th Anniversary lunch hour. The CJC has been lobbying for such legislation for over a decade. “It’s sad to say, the Jewish community is the number one target on most terrorist lists,” said Bernie M. Farber chief executive of the CJC.

The Canadian Coalition Against Terror also supports the proposed legislation. “The idea is to cut off the flow of money to terrorist organizations because that’s what keeps them going. It’s also about exposing them for what they’re doing. A lawsuit can do that,” said lawyer Aaron Blumenfeld representing C-CAT, “The intention is not just to try to get compensation out of those people who sponsored these attacks, but also to expose them for what they’ve done.”

Critics are concerned about Canada’s relations with friendly nations if Canadian citizens sue a foreign state, which would allow the Minister of Foreign Affairs to seize assets under the anti-terrorism bill.



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February 24, 2007

Supreme Court of Canada strikes down \”unconstitutional\” anti-terror legislation

Supreme Court of Canada strikes down “unconstitutional” anti-terror legislation

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Supreme Court of Canada

The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled unanimously 9-0, in favour of a ruling that overturns controversial anti-terror legislation that allowed the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to indefinitely detain suspects without revealing the reason for their arrest or detention.

The judgement, summarised by Justice Beverley McLachlin in the ruling, gave Parliament a one year grace period to create new legislation that will fall within Canada’s constitution and Charter.

The CSIS security certificates have caused five Canadians to spend years in prison since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States – accused of ties to terrorism, but without trial, and not even allowed to be informed of the evidence against them for reasons of national security.

The certificates only target Canadians who do not hold citizenship, such as landed immigrants and refugees.

The three Canadian detainees who took their cause to the Supreme Court last June include Algerian-born Mohamed Harkat from Ottawa, Syrian-born Hassan Almrei from Toronto and Moroccan-born Adil Charkaoui from the University of Montreal. The ruling also applies to Egyptian-born Canadians Mahmoud Jaballah and Mohammad Mahjoub, both residents of Toronto.

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November 13, 2006

UK to step up anti-terror legislation

UK to step up anti-terror legislation – Wikinews, the free news source

UK to step up anti-terror legislation

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Monday, November 13, 2006

New measures to counter the threat of terrorism in UK are expected in the Queen’s Speech.

Sir Ian Blair, Metropolitan police chief, in a speech in Berlin, highlighted the scale of disaffection among the Muslim community, pointing to reports that between 40,000 and 120,000 Muslims believed that the London bombings, when four British suicide bombers killed 52 civilians, were justified. He believed that this disaffection was related to the very negative way in which many in the Muslim community perceived the country’s foreign policy. This view had been expressed last month by Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett and by the Head of MI5, Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller, earlier in the week. However, Prime minister Tony Blair contested the strong connection to foreign policy, saying that the problem has “grown up over a generation”.

Sir Ian outlined where he thought new legislation was needed. Despite the fact that the measure had caused the Government to be defeated in the last session of Parliament, he wanted the extension of the 28 days suspects can be held without charge to be reconsidered. He wanted the law restricting the reporting of court proceedings relaxed to let people, particularly in the communities from which those on trial come, to see justice being done. As things stand, once they have charged a suspect, the police have no right to continue questioning; this should be changed, he said. He also wanted phone tap evidence to be allowed in court and flag burning to be made illegal. Home Secretary John Reid will have an opportunity of introducing new legislation in the Queen’s Speech.

Following Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller’s statement that MI5 has the task of keeping track of 1,600 suspects engaged in 30 known terrorist plots with a staff of 2,800, and that disaffection is increasing as never before, it is expected that more resources will be provided to support her department’s work. Patrick Mercer, the shadow homeland security minister said that both the intelligence and security servcies needed a substantial increase in resources. Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has said that his first priority as Prime Minister would be to head anti-terrorism measures personally. In his present post he has responsibility for the allocation of resources to government departments.

The opinion poll findings quoted by Dame Eliza are questioned by the 1990 Trust (a charitable trust supported by the Rowntree Trust, Comic Relief, CRE and others). Introducing an internet survey conducted between the 8th and 27th September 2006, Karen Chouhan of the 1990 Trust said “This (referring to Dame Manningham-Buller’s speech) is nothing short of irresponsible politicking and journalism which is designed to create a moral panic to pave the way for renewed legislative assaults on civil liberties and can only serve to fuel fears and hostility towards Muslim communities in the UK”. The specific criticism of the use being made of the ICM/Sunday Telegraph Poll, that has been widely reported, is that “some sections of the media have conflated Muslim respondents answering positively to the question of whether they have sympathy ‘with the feeling and motives of those who carried out the attacks’ (20% of those polled in the same ICM/Telegraph survey of February 2006 answered affirmatively) with the violence itself. To understand the motive behind an action cannot be equated with violence itself, and the media have a responsibility to create a clear demarcation”.

A Report from the Joseph Rowntree Trust, by Professor Stuart Weir, Director of Democratic Audit at the University of Essex, Dr Andrew Blick and Tufyal Choudhury was published today November 13, 2006. It concludes that “the government’s counter terrorism legislation and rhetorical stance are between them creating serious losses in human rights and criminal justice protections…and so are prejudicing the ability of the government and security forces to gain the very trust and cooperation from individuals in those communities that they require to combat terrorism.”

Parliament resumes its work next week when the Queen’s Speech will indicate what new anti-terrorist and anti-racist legislation the Government intends to propose.

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December 6, 2005

Australian Government passes new terror laws

Australian Government passes new terror laws

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Tuesday, December 6, 2005

The Australia Federal Government has passed wide-ranging new counter-terrorism laws that civil opponents warned will disintegrate civil liberties. The federal parliament has agreed to laws aimed at stifling home-grown terrorists. The terrorism legislation was rushed through the Senate yesterday evening after the Government gagged debate on the bill.

The new laws enable police and intelligence agencies to detain suspects without charge for up to 14 days in solitary confinement. Authorities can also restrict and control movements of suspects, including fitting them with electronic tags for up to 12 months.

Prime Minister John Howard introduced the package after the July 2005 bombings in London. Federal Justice Minister Chris Ellison told the Senate the laws would give authorities the necessary tools to tackle terrorism, while being consistent with international human rights obligations.

John North, president of the Law Council of Australia, an outspoken critic of the package, said lawyers would monitor the government’s use of its new powers. “We want governments to know that almost 50,000 lawyers will be watching closely to make sure the new laws are not implemented at the expense of our civil liberties,” Mr North said. He also said in a letter addressed to Prime Minister John Howard that “The legal profession believes that the ramifications of these laws have the potential to be as terrifying as terrorism itself.” This following a media campaign launched by the Law Council in newspapers vilifying the new legislation as “draconian”.

The package, broadly supported by the opposition Labor Party, gives police tougher powers to stop, search and seize evidence from suspects and enables more close circuit television cameras to be used to monitor public places. The new legislation also updates sedition laws and allow greater use of security cameras.

The Australian Greens, the Democrats and the Law Council accuse the Labor Party of selling out civil rights by supporting the bill, which will give unprecedented powers to police and spy agencies. Australian Greens leader Bob Brown condemned the laws. “We are in a new period of McCarthyism and we need to know that, and understand it, and worry that this time it won’t be turned around, that citizens, using a law like this, will be brought before courts for political reasons, not security reasons,” he told parliament.

Following some amendments, the Commonwealth Ombudsman will be given more power to oversee detention, detainees will have greater access to relatives and police will need to satisfy a greater number of grounds to impose limits on who a suspect can contact. The Australian Law Reform Commission will review the sedition provisions next year.

Civil libertarians and people who oppose Australia’s involvement in Iraq also have protested. The proposed laws are “horrific for journalists,” senior Fairfax journalist David Marr said. “Firstly, there’s a completely secret new regime of putting people in preventive detention — that’s entirely secret,” he said. “If we report it, if we report that people have gone into preventive detention, we’re going to go individually to jail for five to seven years, something like that. Even if we report what happened to people in detention, we go to jail. “

Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission president John Von Doussa says the proposed counter-terrorism laws are the first step towards a police state. The legislation gives police extraordinary powers to detain people without charge, but does not set out means by which the application of those powers can be checked or appealed, he said.

Prime Minister John Howard rejects suggestions the Government acted in undue haste by pushing a range of striking new laws through parliament before Christmas, despite public outcry over inadequate scrutiny and the gagging of parliamentary debate on many of the bills.

Defence Minister, Senator Robert Hill says the government has a responsibility to protect Australians. “Out of the British bombing, we went back and looked at our laws. We believed that we needed further powers to protect Australians, said Mr Hill. “Obviously, we want to put them through as quickly as possible because we are addressing a terrorist threat.”

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November 11, 2005

Blair could face inquiry into terror vote

Blair could face inquiry into terror vote

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Friday, November 11, 2005 British Prime Minister Tony Blair could face a House of Commons inquiry into claims that chief police officers were pressured to support a political agenda during Wednesday’s vote to extend detention without charge.

Chief police officers were asked to lobby MPs wavering over the introduction of a controversial new law allowing police to detain a terror suspect for 90 days without charge. Although the proposal was rejected by the House of Commons, the lobbying has provoked criticism from senior members of the opposition Conservative Party, who are pushing for an inquiry into the behaviour of government ministers towards the police and for ’embroiling them in politics’.

Former Tory cabinet minister Peter Lilley said: “Every chief constable knows their job is up for re-selection in the next year or so. That puts great pressure on them.”

Home Office minister Hazel Blears denied the claims: “It is entirely proper that the police were there to make their case and for Parliament to consider it.”

“Certainly, as a Member of Parliament I would want to have the benefit of the best professional advice I could get before reaching my decision.”

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November 5, 2005

Nationwide rallies against anti-terror laws held in Australia

Nationwide rallies against anti-terror laws held in Australia

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Saturday, November 5, 2005

Protester demonstrates concern that new laws will gag dissent

A coordinated set of Australian protests against proposed anti-terror bills and calling on the withdrawal of troops from Iraq began in Sydney today. Approximately one thousand people gathered in Belmore Park in the center of the New South Wales capital for a rally and march through the city.

According to the protestors the new legislation may, if passed, may be used to suppress important civil liberties.

“These new laws are against dissent” said David Bernie, a speaker from the NSW Council for Civil Liberties. “We are seeing a big change. Now, ASIO questioning warrants, people subject to those are not allowed to talk about it for two years. Now, this is automatic, and it is automatic irrespective of whether there is any need for secrecy or not. So ASIO doesn’t have to apply for any gag order, the gag order applies automatically. Its stops not only that person talking about it, but their lawyer talking about or the media talking about it.”

Mr. Bernie said that under the laws, it may be a criminal act for family members to discuss the fact that a member of the same family had been secretly detained. “Would John Howard, if he was told by his son, ‘I am safe but I can’t tell you where I am’, not tell Janette about it? It just is a ridiculous situation.”

The Prime Minister has said that the new anti-terror legislation is justified because of the threat to Australia. Mr Howard said in an interview with John Laws on November 3 that he won’t enjoy enacting laws that restrict civil liberties, but that it is necessary under the current circumstances.

“Now I don’t like the fact that we have to do this. I don’t like it at all. In many ways it’s as distasteful to me as it is to the most rampant civil libertarian in the country. But we are living in different times, and anybody who thinks that we’re not, is frankly, out of touch with reality. This country is not immune from the possibility of a terrorist attack. It is not. And people who think it is are just kidding themselves,” Mr Howard said.

Protest enters Elizabeth Street

The rally was addressed by several other speakers including the Greens party Senator Kerry Nettle before setting out on a police escorted march through the streets of Sydney.

On return to Belmore Park further speeches took place, and the rally was concluded with a speech from Paul White from the Muslims for Peace organisation. He suggested that the notion that it was necessary for foreign troops to stay in Iraq to prevent civil war was false. “The historical fact is that Iraq has never had a history of sectarian conflict. Never, never, never. Sunnis and Shi’tes live all over Iraq, not just in the South and in fact they are heavily inter-married.” he said. He suggested that most of the violence in Iraq was directly or indirectly the result of foreign intervention. “The real leaders of Iraq’s Muslims are unanimous, Sunni and Shi’ite, in denouncing sectarian violence”. He concluded, “The only solution to the chaos in Iraq is for all foreign troops to leave Iraq.”

Media

  • David Bernie’s complete speech (Vorbis)
  • Paul White’s complete speech (Vorbis)

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  • “Sydney residents protest anti-terror laws” — Wikinews, November 2, 2005
  • “Anti-terror amendments to be rushed through Australian parliament because of new ‘potential threats'” — Wikinews, November 2, 2005

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November 2, 2005

Anti-terror amendments to be rushed through Australian parliament because of new \’potential threats\’

Anti-terror amendments to be rushed through Australian parliament because of new ‘potential threats’

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Wednesday, November 2, 2005

New terror amendments are to be rushed through Australian Federal Parliament based on new threats recently revealed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). The government claimed in a media release today that it has this week received specific information about a terrorist threat to Australia.

“The Government has received specific intelligence and police information this week which gives cause for serious concern about a potential terrorist threat. The detail of this intelligence has been provided to the Leader of the Opposition and the Shadow Minister for Homeland Security,” the release said.

The government claims that the new bill is intended to improve the ability of intelligence services and the police to counter this threat.

“The Government is satisfied on the advice provided to it that the immediate passage of this bill would strengthen the capacity of law enforcement agencies to effectively respond to this threat,” the release said.

The opposition leader, Kim Beazley, has been briefed by the Prime Minister on the nature of the threat, and has pledged that Labor will support the amendments.

The amendments are separate to the proposed anti-terror legislation.

Some commentators noted that the nation’s security alert level had not been escalated as a result of the new information and remained at “medium” and a subsequent interview with the Attorney-General, Philip Ruddock on Lateline appeared to indicate that there was in fact no information about a specific imminent threat.

Greens’ Senator Bob Brown noted that there are already laws that could deal with a specific imminent threat: “Whoever these unnamed people are, they can be arrested, they can be interrogated for up to seven days, they can be charged under the current crimes act.” he said.

The government has a track record of presenting misleading information to the public for political ends as in the infamous children overboard affair when refugees where vilified by ministers of the Australian government, including the Prime Minister, on the basis of false evidence.

Sources

  • Press Release. “ANTI-TERRORISM BILL” — Prime Minister of Australia website, November 2, 2005
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