URGENT ALERT: Australia to Pass Draconian Anti-Terrorism Laws based on UK models.

Islamic Human Rights Commission

URGENT ALERT: Australia to Pass Draconian Anti-Terrorism Laws based on UK models.

1. Background
2. Requested Action

1. Background

The following press release from the Islamic Council of Victoria highlights the above issue as a major concern. Please protest the introduction of these laws. (See 2. Requested Action)

Press Release

66-69 Jeffcott St.,
West Melbourne. 3003
Email: icv@ozemail.com .au
20 February 2002

Islamic Council calls for re-consideration of “anti-terror” laws
The Australian government has indicated that it will pass “security legislation” based on the UK Terrorism Act 2000 and Anti-Crime and Security Act 2001.

The Muslim community shares the concern of the Law Council of Australia and of Amnesty International over the proposed laws, which will give the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation the power to detain people not suspected of committing a crime for 48 hours, without access to their family or a lawyer.

Yasser Soliman, President of the Islamic Council of Victoria, has expressed his worries about the proposed laws. “In the light of the experience of the Muslim community in the United States, where some 6000 individuals were caught up in the post-September 11 “security net”, many Australian Muslims fear that they will bear the brunt of this legislation. Racial profiling in the USA has resulted in an American-Arab member of the US Secret Service, a guard of President Bush, being removed from an aircraft because he was considered “dangerous looking”, based on his ethnicity alone.

“To give the ASIO such powers as are envisaged in forthcoming legislation, which includes the power to detain people not suspected of committing a crime for 48 hours, without access to their family or a lawyer, constitutes a real threat to the liberties of the Australian people” Mr Soliman said.

Their apparently ruthless and inept handling of the various issues relating to refugee issues has seriously damaged public trust in some sections of the Federal Government. Against that background the Australian people will now be very nervous about giving the Government any enhanced powers which may be used to further restrict their rights and freedoms.

The Islamic Council joins with other Australians of goodwill who concerned to protect the democratic liberties which brought so many to these shores.

We insist that there be open public discussion of the provisions of these proposed laws. We demand that when the draft legislation is introduced in parliament it be open to full scrutiny and debate. If, after rigorous examination and discussion, it is clear that the proposed bills would represent a threat to the liberties of Australian citizens, we call on our Senate representatives to reject the legislation when it comes to the Upper House.

2. Requested Action

Write to the following asking them to seriously consider the civil and political rights implications of the proposed legislation. The UK experience has already shown that serious human rights violations occur under such legislation. People arrested post-September 11 have been eventually released after months in detention, without charge. Others have been offered a choice between internment and deportation.

This type of legislation is simply fuelling the marginalization and criminalization of already marginalized communities, and the perception amongst these communities that Western governments have double standards when it comes to human rights and non-Western communities.

Please address polite letters to:

The Hon John Winston Howard,
Prime Minister
Level 9, Charterbridge House
56-70 Phillip Street
Sydney NSW 2000

(02) 6273 4100(Fax)

The Hon Alexander John Gosse Downer,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
76 Mount Barker Road
Stirling SA 5152

(02) 6273 4112(Fax)

The Hon Simon Findlay Crean,
Leader of the Opposition.
Level 4
4 Treasury Place
East Melbourne Vic 3000
(03) 9650 5593 (fax)
(02) 6277 8495(Fax)