ICJ Victoria Position Paper on Australia’s Counter-Terrorism Strategy
ICJ Victoria is pleased to publish our position paper on the need to augment the current counter terrorism strategy with context-specific deradicalisation, rehabilitation and prevention programmes.
The International Commission of Jurists Victoria (ICJV) calls on the Governments of Australia to support alternative means of countering violent extremism and work with community-based organisations to implement non-violent counter- terrorism strategies. The current strategy of imposing increasingly severe restrictions on fundamental rights, increasing the severity of police powers and relying on overly broad criminal offence provisions will not protect society against the threat of terrorism.
An effective strategy to counter violent extremism will include preventive, pre- trial and post-conviction aspects. To prevent the need for militaristic law enforcement operations, community-based prevention programmes should be implemented to identify and reintegrate at-risk youths. Individuals who are charged with a terrorism offence should be released on bail with the condition that they participate in a specifically developed rehabilitation and reintegration programme. Such a programme would offset the risk of radicalisation if the individual is acquitted, or, if the individual is convicted, would serve the court in sentencing by providing a more accurate understanding of risk the individual posed to society. Finally, if an individual is convicted, any prison sentence should be accompanied by a rehabilitation programme, and reintegration programme following release.
It is the responsibility of the Australian governments to provide funding to organisations best equipped to develop non-coercive means of re-integrating at- risk youth and those charged or convicted of terrorism offences. The current federal government strategy of strengthening law enforcement and broadening the application of the criminal law to capture non-culpable conduct fails to offset the causes of extremist violence. The discriminatory application of the current laws by law enforcement and the courts risks aggravating violent extremism by promoting social division along ethnic and religious lines.
Australia must implement a comprehensive and rights-based strategy to counter the threat of violent extremism. Such programmes are necessary to enable the proper administration of justice with regards to terrorism offences, and will better serve to protect all members of the public.