Lawyers condemn ‘draconian’ move to hold 10-year-old terror suspects without charge

7th Oct 2017

Lawyers have sounded the alarm bells over an agreement allowing children as young as 10 to be held without charge for up to two weeks on suspicion of terrorism offences.

The Turnbull government and the states and territories agreed to the new pre-charge detention regime at a meeting in Canberra this week at which Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews derided civil liberties concerns as a “luxury”.

But Fiona McLeod, president of the Law Council of Australia, said such concerns should not be so lightly dismissed, and condemned the decision to lock up children without charge as “draconian”.

“It’s the combined shock of having a combination of a pre-charge detention of up to 14 days and the revelation they’re going to seek to have this extended to the age of 10,” Ms McLeod told Fairfax Media.

“We’re talking about draconian steps there and we believe that’s crossed the line of intruding on civil liberties too much.”

The federal Labor opposition also hit out at the agreement. “It’s a shocking and drastic step to propose, without charge, the detention of
a child of 10 years old,” shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus said.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan on Saturday made the case for extending the regime to include 10-year-olds, arguing it was regrettable but necessary because Islamic State deliberately recruited children.



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