The Abbott authorities has now introduced the next tranche of its own national security alterations that the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014 to the Senate.
As its name implies the Bill’s main goal is perceived risks to Australia’s security posed by “foreign fighters” Australians who participate in conflicts in overseas nations and might try to come home. This would heighten the dangers of a terrorist action on Australian land.
Particularly, the memorandum indicates that the “escalating terrorist scenario in Iraq and Syria poses a growing threat to the safety of Australians” and existing legislation doesn’t adequately cover national dangers.
The Bill, through a collection of suggested changes to different Commonwealth functions, aims foreign fighters in 2 manners. It attempts to inhibit prospective fighters out of traveling overseas to combine conflicts.
Secondly, it places foreign fighters and people who’ve been in battle areas to a range of augmented controls upon their return to Australia.
Limits On Traveling Overseas
Individuals are restricted from traveling to overseas conflicts in two manners.
It empowers the minister for foreign affairs to suspend a individual’s travel records in which ASIO suspects on reasonable grounds the individual “may leave Australia to participate in behavior that may prejudice the safety of Australia or a foreign nation”.
Current laws permit a individual’s passport to be cancelled in case ASIO suspects on reasonable grounds the individual “will be prone to engage in behavior that may prejudice the safety of Australia or a foreign nation”.
These modifications adopt recommendations from the Independent National Security Monitor (INSLM), who proposed temporary suspension steps would facilitate the struggle for ASIO of finishing full security examinations on suspected people until they travel.
The suggested suspensions would prevent affected people from travelling to a significantly lower threshold than the present provisions.
However, the suspension will work for 14 days only. There’s not any potential for renewal unless ASIO finds further info. Next, to stop somebody from travelling, an ASIO petition for their records to be cancelled, fulfilling the greater threshold necessary for thisparticular, is needed.
Second, the Bill empowers Customs officers to detain someone when they are feeling satisfied on reasonable grounds the individual “is, or will be very likely to be, involved in an activity that’s a danger to national security or the safety of a foreign nation”. This substantially widens present forces.
The Bill targets returning overseas fighters with three distinct kinds of management. It keeps the basic structure of the present offences, which criminalise involvement in “hostile action” in overseas countries and traveling abroad for this use.
But it slightly broadens the offences and considerably raises their greatest penalties. The designation electricity is broad. It permits the prescription of whole nations, or areas spanning a couple of states.
Additionally, it leaves individuals who might have travelled to specified areas for a variety of different reasons including seeing relatives, doing humanitarian aid work, or job official or journalistic responsibilities vulnerable to prosecution.
A comprehensive defence to the charge is where a individual’s sole reason for seeing the designated place was to get a “legitimate purpose” for example the above mentioned explanations.
Nevertheless, this still puts the onus on people to meet an evidential burden which traveling was for a valid function. This leaves open the chance of certainty where a individual fails to discharge this burden, even when their journey was for a valid function.
The offence is very likely to have the chilling effect of discouraging people from traveling to specified areas, even if they don’t have any intent of engaging in overseas conflicts.
Second, the Bill allows people who return to Australia after participating in “hostile actions” abroad to be subjected to control orders, like the ones levied on David Hicks and Jack Thomas.
Under the Bill’s enlarged scheme, a management order could be applied for in which the AFP “supposes” on reasonable grounds that it could substantially help in preventing a terrorist action.
The needs of control orders could be invasive for example Thomas and Hicks were exposed to instantly curfews, reporting requirements and significant telephone and net limitations.
The growth of management orders was executed in response to information from law enforcement agencies that the current thresholds for program are overly onerous.
Other specialists have expressed an alternate view. As an example, the INSLM has explained control requests at the lack of criminal conviction as “not successful, not suitable and not mandatory”.
Ultimately, the Bill amends several exemptions to permit for the cancellation of welfare payments for people whose passports or visas are cancelled or denied on national security reasons.
Mandatory cancellation of welfare will use where the attorney-general problems a optional security note about someone to the ministry for social services.
The Explanatory Memorandum says that the cancellation of welfare was made to occur just where denying welfare itself is suitable or justified on safety grounds. But, no such limitations emerge in the Bill itself. It confers a wide executive discretion to issue safety finds, without the obligation to supply reasons.
The Ideal Equilibrium?
The Bill adopts a selection of steps which make it hard and unpalatable for people to travel abroad to take part in conflicts. It imposes onerous effects on people who return to Australia.
The job remains to make sure that the ideal balance is struck. Many elements of this Bill, like the passport suspension periods, reach this, construction in protections that are recommended.
Others, particularly the new travel offences, are more intense, putting a significant burden on individuals who must see designated areas for benign motives.