More police powers won’t keep us safe from terrorism

The Turnbull government is ramping up fearmongering about terrorism as it struggles in the polls with an unpopular, anti-worker agenda.

Turnbull has stepped up his rhetoric, talking of the “growing threat” of “Islamist terrorism”.

He is using the attack carried out by Yacub Khayre in Brighton as an excuse for bringing in further draconian measures.

Following a meeting with the state premiers, Turnbull said laws would be strengthened to create a presumption against bail and parole for people who have “demonstrated support of, or links to, terrorist activity.”

Spy agency ASIO will share information about “radicalised inmates” with prison authorities to keep them locked up.

Turnbull’s response opened the door to even more extreme calls. Pauline Hanson took the opportunity to call for the internment or deportation of all those who are on “terror watchlists”. Alarmingly she received backing from retired general Jim Molan and sections of the media.

Hanson also mimicked Donald Trump’s call for a total ban on Muslim migrants, declaring again that “Islam is incompatible with Australian values”.

Australian politics is following the same pattern of attack and then increased repression characteristic of France and the UK.

None of the waves of repressive “anti-terror” legislation have made people safer or prevented future attacks. In fact it has just meant Muslims have been further harassed and discriminated against, increasing the resentment within the Muslim community. This only makes it easier for the Jihadist groups to recruit new people.

France has been under a state of emergency for almost two years now, meaning police can ignore normal civil liberties like issuing warrants when raiding homes and only detaining people when they have been charged with a crime.

But none of this prevented the truck attack in Nice seven months after the state of emergency was declared or a number of other deadly incidents.

Likewise, in the UK successive governments have implemented ever more punitive policies against Muslims such as the hated Prevent programme, which is a spying operation on children and teenagers. This did not prevent the Manchester or London bridge attacks occurring.

More measures

Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews is pushing for an even harsher response from Turnbull and will be proposing more measures at a terrorism summit later this year.

Andrews said police should be handed “some tools and some powers that they don’t enjoy today”, conceding this could curtail the “rights and freedoms of a small number of people”.

Andrews wants to ramp up preventive and post-sentence detention, meaning people can be jailed without having committed a crime, or forced to stay in jail even after completing their sentence.

Both these measures go against basic legal principles like being innocent until proven guilty, and not having your liberty deprived if you have served a punishment.

Andrews is also arguing for the bar to be lowered for the use of repressive control orders that restrict movement and impose curfews. He wants bans on associating with certain groups, and potentially bans on internet access or certain search terms. All of these laws have been almost exclusively used against Muslims.

There are also calls for people who have “supported” terrorism to be stripped of citizenship, and to force internet companies to decrypt messages sent by suspects.

These policies have been branded a “threat to democracy” by civil rights lawyers, but Andrews wasn’t too fussed by that.

One barrister said: “It’s completely unwarranted and presupposes the existence of a police state”. “These kinds of authoritarian measures do nothing to affect the crime rate but carried forward into legislation they threaten our democracy.”

Not to be outdone, NSW Premier Berejiklian will introduce a ‘shoot-to-kill’ policy to allow police to murder terror suspects with impunity. She is also arming riot police with high-powered assault rifles that are normally only used by the military. In addition, there are plans to segregate Muslim inmates away from non-Muslim inmates in the Goulburn supermax prison.

We don’t need more draconian laws and police powers. These create more of the anger that fuels terrorism in the first place.

To deal with terrorism we need to tackle its underlying causes. This means ending the racism against Muslims in the West and a withdrawal of Western troops and Western bombs from Muslim countries.

By Miro Sandev


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