LCA concerned for citizenship of terror suspects
The Law Council of Australia (LCA) has expressed serious concerns over current laws that allow terror suspects to be stripped of Australian citizenships.
The federal government’s citizenship renunciation by conduct and cessation provision “sets a low threshold for citizenship loss” and does not align with “natural justice”, according to the LCA.
This comes before the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security hearing, with the laws currently being reviewed.
“Protecting Australians from the threat of terrorism must always be a priority,” LCA president Arthur Moses SC said.
“The government must ensure national security legislation is effective.
“Guilt and innocence should always be determined by a court – this is a cornerstone of Australian democracy and one that must be fiercely protected.”
Mr Moses added that government should not pursue a policy of exclusion that could see potential terrorists shipped to another jurisdiction, which “may not have adequate security infrastructure and respect for the rule of law”.
“When such individuals are outside Australia we lose control of them, which could in effect expose Australians and others to further harm,” he said.
Mr Moses said laws could contravene Australia’s international obligations that require no person is rendered stateless. Given the “low” threshold for proof of dual citizenship, Mr Moses said there is no guarantee a person will get citizenship in another country.
“There needs to be adequate checks and balances in place to ensure that if a person is stripped of their citizenship there is just cause,” Mr Moses said. “This means a person should be convicted of a terrorism-related offence by an Australian court before such a decision is made.”
There are also concerns around the constitutionality of the laws, with power to revoke citizenship vested in the Minister for Home Affairs rather than a court.