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Australian lawmakers to give police extra powers after Sydney race riots

[JURIST] Members of the Parliament of New South Wales [official website] have been recalled and will convene Thursday to consider new laws granting police extra powers to react to the ongoing Sydney race riots [ABC Australia report]. NSW Premier Morris Iemma [official profile] said Tuesday that lawmakers in the Australian state, of which Sydney is the capital, will triple the jail sentence for riot offences to 15 years, give police power to confiscate vehicles driven by those participating in the riots, and establish "lockdown zones" allowing police to take command of an area. Opposition lawmakers have said they will support the legislation. The racial violence, perpetrated largely by white men and youths against individuals of apparent Middle Eastern descent, began Sunday and so far has led to more than 25 arrests. Australia's federal police commissioner said Monday that the violence could undermine [JURIST report] Australia's strict new anti-terror law [JURIST report], though Prime Minister John Howard earlier denied [JURIST report] that the country's anti-terror policies were to blame for the riots. Last month, France experienced three weeks of rioting [JURIST report] in immigrant Muslim communities across the country, prompting the country's parliament to approve emergency powers [JURIST report] in order to control the violence. AP has more.

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