Brandis presumption of terror guilt could trap journalists, aid workers

Friday, August 1, 2014

New anti-terror laws outlined by the Coalition today could see humanitarian workers and journalists in war zones having to prove they are not criminals, say the Australian Greens.

Australian Greens spokesperson for Legal Affairs Senator Wright said Attorney-General George Brandis's plans to reverse the onus of proof added to concerns the wide-ranging legislation would severely restrict human rights.

"There is no question Australia needs to be vigilant against terrorism, but there must be ways to protect Australians from terrorism without overturning the fundamentals of our justice system," Senator Wright said.

"As it's been described so far, it seems this legislation could see Red Cross and other humanitarian workers in declared zones having to face court to prove they are not terrorists.

"This law could also see Australian journalists reporting from countries like Syria or Iraq presumed guilty of terrorism."

Senator Wright also expressed concern over Senator Brandis's proposal to remove the sunset clause from the legislation, which guarantees laws are reviewed after a period of time.

"The Australian Greens would be very concerned about any legislation that further restricts civil liberties and removes scrutiny and oversight.

"There's a very important balance to strike between security and freedoms, and we would not want to see very legitimate security concerns be used to permanently erode human rights."