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Australian PM backs down in face of party revolt on terror laws

[JURIST] Australian Prime Minister John Howard [official profile] on Wednesday bowed to pressure from back-benchers and agreed to several amendments [interview transcript] to proposed anti-terror legislation [text; JURIST report] that will soften several of its provisions. After a day of meetings with members of the Liberal Party, Attorney General Philip Ruddock [official profile] reportedly agreed to most of the changes recommended by a Senate report [text; JURIST report] on the legislation that was put forth earlier this week. Notable among the amendments is a heightened evidentiary requirement to detain those suspected of terrorist activities, as well as an intentional, rather than reckless standard, for laws prohibiting incitement to violence against Australian troops to apply. Ruddock refused, however, to reduce the sunset clause to five years from ten and to completely remove sedition offenses [AAP report] entirely from the bill. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser [official profile] earlier Wednesday villified the government [JURIST report] for reversing "centuries of advances" in human rights and individual liberties with the legislation. The Sydney Morning Herald has more.

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