Monday 25th July 2016 - 5:44 pm

Australia ” must not abandon” the rule of law:government urged

by Alan Thornhill

Lawyers are urging the Federal government to proceed cautiously with its plan to keep dangerous terrorists in jail after their sentences have expired.

 

The plan is to be discussed by the Federal and Sate governments this week.

 

The Law Council President, Stuart Clark, acknowledged  that the Federal Government has a clear responsibility to ensure the nation is safe and secure.

 

However he added:  “.. it is crucial we do not compromise Australia’s commitment to the rule of law in the process.”

 

Mr Clark said “… if Australia abandons its rule of law principles then the forces of global terrorism will have secured a significant victory over our nation.”

 

He warned that the appropriate balance must be struck between ensuring national security on one hand and safeguarding the fundamental legal rights that are central to our democracy on the other.

 

“Applications for post-sentence controls must always be put before a court, and orders but must only be made by a judge exercising his or her own discretion.

 

“There must be a proper hearing before the court where the person who is the subject of the application is given the opportunity to answer the material on which the application is based.

 

“Any order must be periodically reviewed and the scheme monitored by those responsible for its administration, the Parliament and the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor,” Mr Clark said.

 

“The person who is the subject of the order must also be able to apply to the court to have their case reviewed should their circumstances change,” he added.

 

“The legislation itself should also be reviewed within three years of its commencement.”

 

The Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, said the proposed scheme would: “… of course only apply to individuals who as they approach the end of a sentence of imprisonment, continue to pose an unacceptably high risk to the community because of the failure to – their failure to be rehabilitated as a result of a penal sentence.”

 

He said :  “this system will enable a continuing period of imprisonment for high risk terrorist offenders.

 

“It will be supervised by the courts similarly to the arrangements that apply in a number of our jurisdictions for sex offenders and extremely violent individuals.”

 

The Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, offered Labor’s support for the plan.

 

He said:  “Labor’s approach on matters of national security, as it has always been, is to work in a bipartisan fashion with the government to keep Australians safe.

 

“This is an approach which has worked very successfully through the last Parliament and I hope will work equally successfully during the 45th Parliament. Labor is committed to the thorough scrutiny of any new legislation that is proposed by the Government through the processes of the Parliament and in particular of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security to ensure that the balance between security and our precious freedoms and liberties is maintained.”

 

 

 


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