This article was originally posted on Govora in 2017. It is presented here without editing or modification from the version which was published.
Terror needs to be dealt with. With the presumption of innocence intact.
Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called for special courts to be established to deal with foreign fighters returning home to Australia.
The courts can already deal with IS terrorists. As the so-called Islamic State have — without dispute — declared war on the governments of every single nation on the planet. Laws, both state and federal, declare treason to be an offence that carries life imprisonment with little variation as to what treason means.
A person who assists by any means whatever, with intent to assist, an enemy at war with the Commonwealth of Australia, whether or not the existence of a state of war has been declared; shall be guilty of an indictable offence, called treason. (Crimes Act 1958, Vic.)
The Victorian Act used in this example does not define ‘enemy’ and a court could easily opine that a terrorist group counts as an enemy, since Australia is involved in the war against the group Abbott famously referred to as the ‘death cult’.
Dual citizens over the age of 14 who participate in terrorist activities are deemed to have renounced their citizenship under 2015 amendments to the Migration Act 2007.
It seems redundant to establish new courts if the current courts already have the authority to enforce the law. It also sounds like these courts would presume all defendants to be guilty, which is counter to centuries of judicial tradition. It’s not like it would be difficult to prove whether or not someone declared allegiance and/or provided assistance to the enemy.