Concerns over terrorist supervision orders

Matt Coughlan
·2-min read

Australia's human rights commissioner has warned a proposal to slap post-jail supervision orders on terrorists goes too far.

Parliament's powerful intelligence and security committee on Friday scrutinised a push to introduce Extended Supervision Orders for high-risk offenders.

Human Rights Commissioner Edward Santow raised a series of concerns with the proposal including the low standard of proof required.

The Law Council of Australia is calling for the criminal standard of proof or at least a high probability of reoffending to grant an order.

The ESO would give courts another tool alongside continued detention orders, which allow terrorists to be kept behind bars beyond their sentences.

Harsh community supervision controls can be slapped on offenders after their release from jail.

The Law Council's David Neal said using the civil standard of proof, which requires the balance of probabilities, was appropriate.

"These really are extraordinary measures to take," he told the committee.

"To describe them as civil is almost fictional. This is so intimately connected with the criminal justice process."

In 2018, the government backed the independent legislation monitor's recommendation but then lowered the standard of proof required for an ESO.

The Human Rights Commission and the Law Council urged the government to return to its original position.

Liberal senator David Fawcett said this year's attacks in the UK, Germany and Austria had been committed by people freed from prison.

"People who had been in custody due to terrorist offences were released and within a very short period of time had gone on to kill or injure citizens in the country where they were living," he said.

He said Australians expected the government to take all steps to stop people causing harm to the community.

"Given their already demonstrated beliefs, inclinations and actions, this is a way to add a layer of protection for the rest of the community who are around them."

Mr Santow is also concerned ESOs can be used for home detention or compulsory participation in deradicalisation programs.

"It's critically important that they be carefully targeted towards people that have a demonstrated capacity to bring about real harm," he said.