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Further safeguards needed in Counter-Terrorism Bill: LCA

Further safeguards needed in Counter-Terrorism Bill: LCA

Duncan_McConnel

The Law Council of Australia (LCA) has called for changes to the Counter-Terrorism Bill to prevent "serious intrusions into a person’s private life" and to protect the rights of children.

LCA president Duncan McConnel said the expansion of control orders was of particular concern in the proposed laws.

“Control orders are a particularly intrusive form of restraint on personal liberty without there being any criminal conviction or even charge,” he said.

“The powers in question involve serious intrusions into a person’s private life, but also into the privacy of individuals unrelated to the person who is the subject of a control order.”

The current Bill includes the power to inspect any document on a premises in question or to search the computers of, for example, an educational institution, he said.

Mr McConnel said monitoring warrants should not be issued without reasonable suspicion that the control order is not being complied with or that the individual is engaged in terrorist-related activity.

He also addressed the reduction in age for control orders in the Bill, calling for greater safeguards around such provisions.

“The Bill should ensure that the child’s best interests are a primary consideration in the court’s determination of whether to impose an obligation, prohibition or restriction,” he said.

“This includes not permitting the court appointed advocate to disclose information against the wishes of the child, which would potentially be a serious infringement on the child’s right to silence.”

The LCA also warned against making the powers for preventative detention too broad since this could give rise to a constitutional challenge.

The Bill in its current form would reduce the threshold for which a preventative detention order may be granted to there being reasonable grounds to suspect that a terrorist act "is capable of being carried out, and could occur, within the next 14 days", according to the council.

The LCA said the test should at a minimum require a likelihood or an unacceptable risk of a terrorist act occurring in order to be constitutional.

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