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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Terror suspects ‘must be watched’ after release

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Terror offenders must monitored after release from jail despite claims government proposals could cause “unimaginable consequences”, the nation’s counter-terror co-ordinator says.

Parliament’s intelligence and security committee sat on Friday, scrutinising the government’s proposal for Extended Supervision Orders (ESOs) for high-risk terror offenders.

Under ESOs, offenders would be slapped with harsh restrictions after release from terror-related sentences.

Commonwealth Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Chris Teal argues the measures would “provide a less restrictive alternative to continuing detention”.

“Globally, terrorist offenders have in the past year committed fatal attacks after being released into the community … (the ESO scheme) is critical to addressing the threat posed by the cohort of convicted offenders,” he said.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said the community rightly expected the government would do everything within its powers “to prevent hateful individuals from causing further harm when they get out of jail”.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says the measures “prevent hateful individuals from causing further harm when they get out of jail”. Picture: Gary Ramage
media_cameraHome Affairs Minister Peter Dutton says the measures “prevent hateful individuals from causing further harm when they get out of jail”. Picture: Gary Ramage

For an ESO to be imposed, the bill requires a ‘balance of probability’ a convicted offender will commit a serious offence on release.

Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow said the lowered standard of proof could cause “unimaginable consequences”.

“A decision to restrict someone’s liberty is among the most drastic limitations on human rights possible … It’s crucial the decision be made with a high degree of confidence,” he said.

The Law Council has called for the threshold to be increased to a criminal standard, or a “high probability” of reoffending.

Liberal Senator David Fawcett cited this month’s attack in Vienna, committed by a man previously convicted of attempting to join ISIS in Syria, as evidence the laws “add a layer of protection for the rest of the community”.

“People who had been in custody due to terrorist offences were released and within a very short period of time had gone on to kill or injure citizens in the country where they were living,” he said.

The bill would allow courts to mandate offenders undergo a deradicalisation program.

Labor MP Anne Aly argues the Vienna attack shows that measure would be counter-productive.

“(The attacker) scored very highly on expressing willingness and preparedness to die for a cause (when assessed). But he was released because he was placed into a deradicalisation program. It was a condition of his release,” Dr Aly said.

Originally published as Released terror suspects ‘must be watched’

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