Australia’s contribution to the ICJ’s Report on terrorism, counter-terrorism and human rights.
May 14, 2009

On February 16th 2009 the Eminent Jurists Panel released their report ‘Assessing damage, Urging Action’ to enable governments “to re-examine laws and ensure that the high standards of Australia’s rule of law has not been unnecessarily trampled by the political imperative to be seen to be doing something” according to John Dowd AO QC, President of the International Commission of Jurists Australia. Work to compile the report commenced in the wake of the 9/11 attack on the US to restore, as much as possible, human rights standards set aside by such laws.

The Eminent Jurists Panel is comprised of some of the most prominent figures in international law. Including former Irish President and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson and is chaired by Justice Arthur Chaskalson, former Chief Justice of South Africa. It is the first group to undertake an investigation of this scope, with sixteen hearings covering forty countries.

The final report is available on the Keith Suter side here: Assessing Damage, Urging Action.

Australia played a key part in the research and compilation of the above report. A list of submissions follows below and includes links back to their source.

1. ACT Department of Justice and Community Safety

(This submission focuses on 2004 and 2005 laws introduced by the Commonwealth and the States and Territories dealing with detention to prevent terrorist attacks and to preserve related evidence in the process. It also makes reference to the role played by the ACT to allow public exposure of the draft of the 2005 Terrorism Bill)

2. Amnesty International Australia

(This submission discusses the scope of the counter-terrorism legislation adopted in Australia after 9/11 and analyses its consequences in the lights of the human rights instruments to which Australia is a party. Moreover, it answers thoroughly to the questionnaire provided by the EJP in relation to the anti-terrorism measures adopted and their effects on different areas)

3. Attorney-General’s Department, “Security Legislation Review,” February 2006

(This submission discusses the origin and rationale for Special Terrorism Laws and makes a detailed explanation of the most relevant pieces of legislation adopted in Australia to counter terrorism since 2002.)

4. Australian Lawyers for Human Rights, “Monitoring the Impact of Terrorism Laws on Muslim and Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Communities”

(This submission discusses the impact of several counter terrorism measures adopted in Australia on human rights and, specially, on Muslim and other linguistically diverse communities. It focuses on preventative detention orders, control orders, detention for questioning by ASIO, sedition, and proscription of terrorist organizations)

5. Australian Muslim Civil Rights Advocacy Network

(This submission provides an overview of the ways in which counter-terrorism laws and police practice operate to discriminate against Muslim and culturally and ethnically diverse constituencies. This report identifies three key issues: anti-terrorism legislation contributes to the normalization of Islamophobia in government policy and in general community; the discretionary use of the legislation in targeting so called Muslim “extremism” licenses the over-policing of Muslim people; and specific offences, such as terrorist organizations related offences, disproportionately criminalize the political and religious activities of Muslims)

6. Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Faculty of Law, Monash University

(This submission analyses different aspects of Australia’s legal, political and cultural responses to the threat of terrorism. It makes a detailed study of the debate on human rights and anti-terrorism in Australia, focusing on the effects of the lack of a Human Rights Bill. Moreover, it also refers to the role of the judiciary, discrimination issues, and lessons from Australian legal history)

7. Combined Community Legal Centres Group (NSW) Inc.

(This submission discusses the impact of the enactment of anti-terrorism legislation on the community and summarizes the object of each piece of anti-terrorism legislation adopted in Australia between 2002 and 2005)

8. Barbara Hocking

(This submission focuses on the adverse consequences of the ASIO’s detention and questioning powers on human rights as well as its detrimental effect on democracy)

Submission Part A

(Submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on ASIO, ASIS and DSD: An Advisory Report on the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Legislation Amendment (Terrorism) Bill 2002)

Submission Part B

9. Jenny Hocking

(The submission makes an overview of the legislative process of the Anti-Terrorism Act (No. 2) 2005, and then focuses on the offence of sedition and its effects on democracy, dissent and debate)

10. Dr Andrew Lynch, Dr Ben Saul and Professor George Williams, University of New South Wales

(This submission reflects their answer to the questionnaire suggested by the EJP in relation to anti-terrorism measures and their impact on human rights)

11. Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission

(This submission discusses the role of the HREOC as the National Human Rights Institution. Moreover, it makes a detailed explanation of the preventative detention orders; control orders; the proscription of terrorist organizations regime; sedition offences; police powers to stop and question people in relation to terrorist acts; and the powers granted to the Australian Security Intelligence Organization; all in the light of Australian human rights commitments)

12. New Matilda

(This submission focuses on the deficiencies which the recently enacted anti-terrorism legislation exposes in the Australian human rights framework. It mainly reflects the deficiency of the legislative process of the Anti-Terrorism Act (No. 2) 2005 and the effects of the provision adopted therein on human rights)

13.New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties

(This submission discusses the threat of terrorism in Australia since 2001 and the government’s response; the protection of human rights in Australian law; and makes a thorough explanation of the existing Australian anti-terrorism legislation, including offences relating to “terrorist acts” and “terrorist organizations”, sedition, control and preventative detention orders, and their impact on human rights)

14. Rights Australia

(This submission discusses the provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act (No. 2) 2005 and outline three areas of concern: too much haste; too much reliance on trust; and absence of human rights protections)

15. Sydney Centre for International and Global Law

(This submission focuses in three main issues: the inadequacy of the consultative processes and lack of procedural transparency in the enactment of the Anti-Terrorism Act (No. 2) 2005; the consistency of this Act with Australia’s obligations under International Law; and the existence of a state of emergency exception in terms of the ICCPR)