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Australia approves indefinite detention of convicted terrorists

Published: December 1, 2016
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Source: DW

The legislation has provided authorities with the ability to hold convicted terrorists beyond their prison sentences. But opposition lawmakers criticized the new law, saying it undermines the country's civil liberties.

The Global Terrorism Index has shown that deaths caused by terrorism in 2015 increased six-fold in developed nations, with Turkey and France the worst affected.

Australia's government on Thursday approved legislation that strengthens the country's terrorism laws by allowing convicted terrorists to be held without charge after serving a prison sentence.

Under the legislation, the attorney general may ask a court to indefinitely detain a convicted terrorist 12 months before their sentence expires on the grounds that the convict would pose an unacceptable risk of committing an act of terrorism upon release.

The Supreme Court would then have to approve the extended detention given the risk of the prisoner committing a serious terror offense after being freed.

"This bill strengthens the ability of our security agencies to continue to detain somebody if they've committed serious terrorism offenses … and they have not been rehabilitated," said Australian Justice Minister Michael Keenan.

"We are not going to allow people who haven't been rehabilitated in prison to be released and then go on to harm our fellow Australians," he added.

Opposition lashes out

However, the new law was met with criticism by the Greens party and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjel, who argued that the legislation undermines civil liberties in Australia.

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