Terrorist jail powers called into question

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The Law Council of Australia has argued that it is a slippery slope to detain people because they may commit a future offense under current terrorism laws.

Council President Tass Liveris told an inquiry into the laws that it was impossible to assess such a threat.

“The Law Council is not aware of any empirically validated methodology that would help courts and judges accurately assess this risk,” he said Thursday.

The Independent Monitor of National Security Legislation examines laws that allow high-risk terrorists to be held in prison beyond their sentence.

Representatives from the Home Office, the Attorney General’s Office and the Australian Federal Police also appeared before the hearing in Canberra on Thursday.

The detention orders are unnecessary and not proportionate to the risks posed, and the legislation should be allowed to expire in December 2026, Liveris said.

“What could be considered is an extended fixed-term sentencing regime,” he said.

“This would require a decision by the court at sentencing to add a discreet and additional element of protection known as an ‘extension period’.”

Any extension of the continuous detention regime would require significant changes, including raising the standard of proof to “beyond a reasonable doubt” from the current “high degree of probability”, the board argues.

“Minimizing the risk of harm to our community is vitally important, but this must be balanced against individual rights,” Liveris said.

AFP Assistant Commissioner for Investigations Ian McCartney told the hearing that the orders provide police with recourse against terrorist offenders who still pose a risk to the community at the end of their sentence.

“The AFP is responsible for protecting the Australian community against the threat of terrorism. Unfortunately, in our experience, some terrorist offenders continue to hold extremist beliefs even after they have completed their sentence,” he said. .

“From AFP’s perspective, although still a relatively new framework, post-sentence orders serve an important function in managing the … risk posed by high-risk terrorist offenders to the Australian community.

However, he said the review would ensure the scheme remains fit for purpose and transparent.

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