Public hearing on counter-terrorism ‘declared areas’

A parliamentary inquiry on laws restricting entry to high-risk terrorism zones

will hear evidence from the Law Council of Australia, the Australian Human Rights Commission and other expert government witnesses today.

The hearing forms part of an Intelligence and Security Committee statutory review into sections119.2 and 119.3 of the Criminal Code which makes it an offence to enter or remain in an area declared by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. These provisions are due to expire on 7 September 2021.

Committee Chair Andrew Hastie says while there are no areas currently declared, for periods between 2015 and 2017, the al Raqqa province of Syria and the Mosul district of Iraq were both declared due to the prevalence of Islamic State fighters in those regions.

‘Despite travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 response, terrorism remains a considerable threat to Australia, and considering these laws remains an important task for the Committee,’ Mr Hastie said.

The declared areas provisions have been used both to deter Australians from travelling to foreign conflict zones, as well as to prosecute foreign fighters returning home to Australia.

‘It is important to continue to review Australia’s national security and counter-terrorism powers to ensure that we are effectively managing the ongoing security threat posed by returning foreign fighters,’ Mr Hastie said.

To view a full program for the public hearing, details about the inquiry and public submissions received to date, you can visit the inquiry website.

Public hearing details

Date: Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Time: 11.00 am to 4.15 pm AEST

Location: Committee Room 2R1, Parliament House, Canberra and via teleconference

The hearing will be broadcast live at aph.gov.au/live.

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