Posts for July 2017

Stricter Bail and Parole Laws Won't Curb Terrorism

Tuesday, July 11, 2017 3:12pm

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Following a meeting of State leaders and the Prime Minister, Premier Jay Weatherill announced proposed new laws that would see any person with “links to terrorism” be automatically denied Police bail and be faced with a presumption against court ordered bail or parole.

Without draft legislation or relevant detail the State Liberal Party expressed its full support and without concern for impingement upon civil liberties.

Notably, the Federal Labor Party said we should wait to see the detail of the proposed changes before providing support. That is the better view.

There are important matters to be considered. What is to constitute a “terror link”? What if there is a terror link but no connection between the alleged offence and the link?

In the case of Man Haron Monis, a terrorist link had not been established before the Lindt Café incident and his alleged offences, whilst numerous and violent, had no apparent link to terrorism. Whilst the idea of getting tough on terrorism is superficially appealing, how the proposed new law will operate in practice together with its potential impact on society generally and the section of the community it seeks to target needs to be carefully considered.

Deputy SA Police Commissioner Linda Williams has referred to the risk of a terrorist attack in South Australia as being very small.

Rather than having established links with international terrorist cells, those who have committed what have been referred to as terrorist attacks in Australia have been alienated and isolated individuals. Laws, such as the proposed parole laws, which treat a section of the community differently to everyone else for similar offending may further alienate and isolate those persons. The danger is that the mooted parole laws may have the unintended effect of increasing the risk to the community after the non-parole period.

An important aspect of imprisonment and the setting of a non-parole period is to provide encouragement for rehabilitation and the return to the community. In the case of a 10-year sentence with a non-parole period of seven years even under the current law, if an offender has not demonstrated an appropriate basis for parole, there can be a requirement to serve the full 10 years.

Presumably, the more extreme the conduct the tougher the proposed bail and parole restrictions. However, what difference will stricter bail and parole laws make to persons such as suicide bombers? The real objection of true terrorist organisations is to our way of life. Fundamental to our way of life is the freedom that all our citizens enjoy under the protection of the rule of law. Once we give up freedom under that protection, for even a small section of our community, we provide a victory for the real terrorists.

Prevention is better than the suggested “cure” of the proposed new law. Governments should consider greater emphasis on firstly screening those that we do allow entry to our country and to carefully monitor, if necessary through control orders, those that are demonstrated to pose a risk to our safety.

Tony Rossi


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