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Anti-terror laws: international legal concern grows

By Margo Kingston
Created 13/10/2005 - 00:44


12 October 2005

International Legal Concern Grows re Anti-terror Laws

The Law Council says that there is an escalating groundswell of opinion in the international legal profession against draconian anti-terror laws - there is a rapidly growing international view that more faith needs to be shown in our traditional legal protections.

Speaking at a national legal conference in Canberra today, Law Council President John North said, "Any change that affects our right to live in peace and to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention must be subject to the utmost scrutiny. Do these laws actually make us safe or just makes us feel safer? They are arming our police and intelligence services with powers that history shows will likely lead to abuse and misuse."

From recent international conferences, it has become overwhelmingly clear that the erosion of human rights is of international concern.  "At recent conferences of the American Bar Association, the International Bar Association, the Commonwealth Lawyers' Association and at last weekend's LawAsia conference, the prevailing theme has been the need for lawyers to act now to halt the march of executive power", Mr North said.

As former Chief Justice of the High Court, Sir Anthony Mason said last week "In a climate where there is apprehension about security, there is a risk that the importance of protecting individual rights will be sacrificed or underestimated".

Mr North said, "Australia stands apart as a western liberal democracy without a Charter of Human Rights".  The Law Council believes there are many other local human rights concerns such as the treatment of people including many children in immigration detention, the exclusion or restriction of judicial review of administrative decisions, and the failure to advocate for the provision of basic and fair judicial processes in cases where Australian citizens are detained overseas.

"Some fifty people died in the London bombings notwithstanding control orders and preventative detention laws.  An innocent young man was shot dead by London police in the aftermath to the bombings.  Cornelia Rau was mistakenly imprisoned and Vivian Alvarez was mistakenly deported by agencies of the Australian government.  David Hicks and Ahmed Aziz Rafiq remain in foreign custody without the prospect of judicial review.  Executive power is deservedly everywhere under the microscope but not least in Australia", Mr North concluded.

Media Contact: Elenore Eriksson,
Director Public Affairs - 02 6246 3716/0419 269 855

www.lawcouncil.asn.au [1]
The Law Council of Australia exists to represent the legal profession at the national level, to speak on behalf of its constituent bodies on national issues, and to promote the administration of justice, access to justice and general improvement of the law.

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