Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014

October 17, 2014


The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security has today tabled its Advisory Report on the Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment (Foreign Fighters) Bill 2014.

A copy of the report can be found by following the below link:


‘We must be careful’, says ALHR President Nathan Kennedy, ‘that in opposing the criminality of terrorism through Australian legislation we ensure that our laws maintain the highest standards and comply with internationally accepted human rights.’

‘Otherwise it is us ourselves, and not the terrorists, who end up “subverting” our own society through adopting undemocratic standards.’

‘Conversely, it is generally accepted that compliance with human rights while countering terrorism is an indispensable part of any long term strategy to combat terrorism.  ALHR has serious concerns that the Bill adopts extreme measures which should be only a temporary response to an immediate threat and enshrines them as the new norm.’

‘Although the Bill purports to be simply about Australians fighting overseas in terrorist organisations, it also introduces a number of measures which will have a continued impact on ordinary Australians, including the collection of biometric data not just from overseas visitors but from Australian citizens.  While the data will initially be a photograph of the person’s face and shoulders, the Explanatory Memorandum says that: ‘Should the need arise …. other personal identifiers such as a person’s fingerprints or iris scan may be prescribed in the Migration Regulations’ , which is something we find concerning’ said Mr Kennedy, ‘particularly given the lack of information as to what privacy protections will be put in place to delete such data when it is no longer required, and as to whether the Australian government could share such information’.

‘ALHR is also concerned at the extension of control and preventative detention orders, and the lowering of thresholds for such orders and for arrests without charge.  Most of the matters dealt with by the Bill will not be the subject of full judicial review, thus removing checks on excessive government power.’

‘A new offence of ‘being present in a declared area’ requires an Australian who, quite unintentionally, finds themselves in a banned area to prove that they did not intend to be there  – but only on the basis of a narrow list of approved purposes which do not include tourism or legitimate business activities.  In this and other respects the Bill goes far beyond a proportionate response to the real threat.’

ALHR’s submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security is accessible below.