THE LAW Council of Australia has warned that Australian Security Intelligence Organisation’s (ASIO’s) questioning and detention powers have the potential to infringe upon the rights and freedoms of Australians.
President of the Law Council John North on Monday told a Parliamentary Joint Committee inquiring into ASIO’s questioning and detention powers that the ASIO legislation represented “a significant inroad into long hard-fought for human rights”.
“It allows people to be detained for questioning over extended periods well in excess of those permitted by criminal law,” he said.
When the legislation was introduced in July 2003, the Law Council expressed concern that it would not only mean people could be detained for excessive periods of time, but also that they could be detained without being suspected of criminal behaviour.
“This creates a regime where the basic liberties of a person are seriously infringed,” North said.
The danger of the legislation was that it could be misused in the wrong hands, he added.
“If Parliament is hell-bent on entrenching these excessive powers, they should remove the clauses in the legislation that allow ASIO to go further than the existing criminal law.”