Necessity and proportionality must guide assessment as to whether counter-terrorism powers remain appropriate

Protection from threats to national security and the protection and promotion of human rights are complementary goals according to two recent submissions that the Human Rights Law Centre has made on aspects of Australia’s counter-terrorism laws. HRLC’s Director of International Human Rights Advocacy, Ben Schokman, said whilst there are instances where human rights need to be limited to some extent for the purpose of protecting national security and countering terrorism, limitations are only permissible when they are absolutely necessary, are proportionate and rationally connected to the threat posed.

“Governments bear the onus of establishing that any limitation of a human right is reasonable and demonstrably justified. And of course, the more serious the infringement of rights, the higher the standard of proof required,” Mr Schokman said.

On 19 October, the HRLC made a submission to the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) on its review and evaluation of the operation, effectiveness and implications of Australia’s counter-terrorism legislation.

On 19 September, the HRLC made a submission to the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor which reviews the operation, effectiveness and implications of Australia’s national security legislation on an ongoing basis.

Mr Schokman said the extraordinary nature of the powers associated with many counter-terrorism measures, meant there needed to be a corresponding level of procedural safeguards to ensure that such powers are not misused.