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Australia AG says changing terror laws could compromise national security

[JURIST] Australian Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock [official profile], responding Friday to a independent review of new security laws, defended the government's power to define which groups are terrorist organizations subject to criminal penalties. The Security Legislation Review Committee [materials], a public and independent body charged with reviewing the Security Acts dealing with terrorism, released a 262-page report [PDF text] Thursday recommending that the governmental process of black-listing terrorist groups be more transparent so that the groups may respond to the charges before condemnation, and that the definitional criteria be made public. Ruddock, however, who established the committee last October as required by Section 4 of the Security Amendment Legislation (Terrorism) Act of 2002 [text], said that the government could compromise information received from other nations or the safety of intelligence agents if forced to reveal why groups have been identified as terrorist organizations.

The report also criticized the new terror laws for not having sunset provisions, recommended that the current practice of imposing strict liability for several criminal actions carrying heavy penalties be eliminated, and said that the crime of "advocating the doing of a terrorist act" should be restricted in scope for clarity. AAP has more.

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