Saturday, June 28, 2003

New secret police powers in Australia: "The new bill applies to everyone, man and woman, citizen and non-citizen, from the age of 16. Nobody is immune from arrest, at any time, anywhere, by special warrant issued by a judge, to be 'detained' for a maximum of seven days and 'interrogated' for a maximum of 24 hours (made up of three blocks of eight hours). And if ASIO can produce new, agreed information on which to request a new warrant, the same person, once he or she has been released, can be detained a second time, again for a maximum seven days, still without charge, and subject to a further maximum 24 hours of supervised interrogation... you have no right to silence. You must answer ASIO's questions. If you don't know the answers you must prove you don't know ("a defendant bears an evidential burden in relation to [these] matters")...

"If you're picked up on one of these special ASIO warrants and refuse to appear before a supervising judge for questioning by ASIO, you can be jailed for five years. No ifs, buts, maybes. No lesser penalty, either. Refuse to answer questions and you face the same penalty: five years' jail. If you knowingly give a "false or misleading" answer, again five years' jail. If you fail to produce "any record or thing" you're asked to produce, five years' jail. The penalty is the same all round: five years in the slammer."

The Howard government through participation in the illegal war against Iraq has deliberately increased the risk of terrorist retaliation to Australia and Australians; and at the same time materially and dramatically weakened our civil liberties. Part of a political strategy that being 'tough on terrorism' will get them re-elected.

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