New anti-terror laws for Australia

Sep 22, 2014 | News

By Karina Nowysz

New anti-terror laws are on their way in Australia in response to threats by the militant group ISIS.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott plans to introduce these laws into Australian parliament on Wednesday.

Under the new legislation it would be illegal for Australian citizens to travel for any reason to “no go zones” designated by the government, said Abbott.

“The delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift,” said Abbott.

Australia’s new laws come quickly on the heels of last week’s raids in Sydney and Brisbane over an alleged ISIS beheading plot targeting Australians at home.

Professor Kent Roach, an expert in anti-terrorism law at the University of Toronto, told Humber News that Australia’s approach is “an ill advised attempt to prove a terrorist intent.”

“Canada is a bit ahead of the curve on that issue. We have adequate legislative tools,” said Roach. “Canada in 2013 enacted new offences against leaving Canada to facilitate, direct terrorist activities or participate in a terrorist organization,”

However, Canada’s legislative framework is being re-examined following the militant groups ISIS’ audio recording on Sunday, which urged its supporters to kill the ‘disbelievers’ including in Canada.

“I wouldn’t be surprised – Canada following suit with the Australians,’ said Paul Copeland, one of the Special Advocates in the Security Certificate Program in the Federal Court. “The Five eyes, the five national security agencies, including USA, Canada, Australia, UK and New Zealand work cooperatively so I wouldn’t be surprised there would be similarities in the legislation.”

But terrorism expert Christian Leuprecht, an associate professor of politics at the Royal Military College of Canada told Humber News that Canada needs to make sure not to overreact.

Imposing travel restrictions on the population may not prove to be effective at containing the issue and may not be feasible, he said.

“Our charter imposes restrictions on what we can effectively do here,” said Leuprecht.“The challenge in Canada is that if we are going to announce something like that and impose criminal penalties it would likely prove unenforceable because the evidence we would have to gather to that effect would likely be gathered outside of the country.”

“Evidence gathered outside the country especially in non-democratic regimes has proven virtually inadmissible in the Canadian court of law,” he said.

The Australian government’s approach to deal with the ISIS threat is unprecedented among Western democracies to date and has experts watching closely.

“We will have to see how Australia enforces that measure and how the measure will be reconcilable with their constitution,” said Leuprecht.