The Australian federal police is losing its independence and integrity and must be separated from Peter Dutton’s home affairs portfolio, police union leaders have warned.
The AFP was subsumed into the behemoth home affairs portfolio in late 2017, placing it under Dutton’s direct responsibility.
But the Australian Federal Police Association, which represents 6,500 AFP members, now wants the change reversed, saying it has compromised the AFP’s organisational integrity and its ability to carry out investigations without government influence.
Australia continues to assist in international prosecutions where the death penalty is an option, while underpinning its bid for a seat on the United Nation’s Human Rights Council with a call to abolish capital punishment worldwide.
A Sydney man facing a terrorism trial in Bulgaria says he’s outraged that Australian authorities have “sold him out”.
None of the politicians are talking about it, but threats to freedom of speech have emerged in three different guises in the first three weeks of the election campaign. First there was the assailing of…
A TRUTH SELDOM TOLD> SCOTT RUSH’S DAD RANG THE AFP AND ASKED THEM TO STOP HIS SON GOING TO BALI. THEY LIED SAID THEY WOULD BUT DIDN’T. THEY WILL HAVE BLOOD ON THEIR HANDS AND SHOULD BE INVESIGATED, NAMED AND SHAMED. LITTLE SATISFACTION FOR THE TWO YOUNG MEN WHO MADE A MISTAKE AND ARE FACING EXECUTION
ABBOTT HAS INCREASED AFP POWER
One of the lawyers involved in the Bali Nine drug case says Australian police should never have cooperated with Indonesia given the likelihood of death sentences being imposed.
Brisbane lawyer Robert Myers said the Abbott Government should cite the role played by Australian Federal Police (AFP) in providing intelligence on the trafficking conspiracy when it makes a bid to save the lives of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran.
The pair are set to face the firing squad this year after a decision by the Indonesian government to go ahead with executing all 64 death row drug traffickers.
Mr Myers became involved in the case after receiving a phone call from his friend Lee Rush, the father of now convicted drug trafficker Scott Rush who is serving a life sentence, before his son left Australia.
“He called me one evening before the boys, well, particularly before Scott left Australia, with a concern that he had received a call to say Scott had an overseas ticket, he had a passport,” Mr Myers said.
“And so I said, ‘Well look, if you’ve got a concern, I’ll call a friend of mine in the Federal Police’. I knew a police officer who was on secondment and that really started the entire thing.”
The AFP’s liaison officer in Bali, Paul Hunniford, then wrote a three-page letter to the Indonesian police.
“It really said words to the effect of whatever action you see fit to take is quite alright with us, and it seemed to be an open-ended invitation to the Indonesian authorities,” Mr Myers said.
“If they wanted to take it beyond surveillance, if they wanted to arrest these people, even wanted to charge them, even wanted to subject them to Indonesian law, that the Australians weren’t going to have any problems with that.”
Australia in a ‘terribly embarrassing situation’
Mr Myers said the AFP’s involvement could help assist in saving the lives of Chan and Sukumaran.
“I suspect it may be their only hope now because, as I understand it, the Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister have appealed to Indonesia; it sounds as if the appeals have fallen on deaf ears,” he said.
There was no doubt that by allowing the Indonesians to really have cart blanche in relation to the Bali Nine, that all of the Bali Nine were being exposed to the death penalty.Robert Myers, lawyer
“It just struck me as though if the Government, if the Prime Minister could say on behalf of the Australian Government, [that] we find ourselves in a terribly embarrassing situation because this should never have happened in the first place.”
He said had the AFP asked for cooperation from the Indonesian authorities about the groups’ movements and when they were returning to Australia, the matter could have been dealt with on home soil.
“And if there’s an appeal made on a personal basis you’d hope that the president of Indonesia might say, ‘Look, I can see you’re in an embarrassing situation where our countries are allies… we’d hate to see the Australian Government terribly embarrassed by really a very bad error, a gross error on behalf of the AFP’, which was completely contrary to its own restrictions and guidelines.
“There is no doubt that the Attorney-General would have to personally approve the cooperation between foreign entities that could result in the death of Australian citizens, and there was no doubt that by allowing the Indonesians to really have cart blanche in relation to the Bali Nine, that all of the Bali Nine were being exposed to the death penalty.”
Mr Myers said he did not know at what level the AFP’s decision was made.
“[Mick] Keelty was obviously the officer in charge of the entire show at the time.
“I don’t even know if this decision was made by Keelty but one would have thought the buck would have stopped with … well, the buck stops with the Attorney-General and my understanding is the Attorney-General knew nothing about it.”
NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive.
Crucially, the laws allow the Australian Federal Police to issue control orders on people suspected of “aiding or facilitating” foreign fighters like those currently in Iraq and Syria. Control orders let police detain someone without charging them, a process the Australian Human Rights Commission describes as having the potential to “impact on fundamental rights and freedoms including the rights to liberty, privacy, freedom of association, freedom of expression and freedom of movement”.
Considering the scope of powers the new laws give to intelligence officials who already wield great authority, and given even supporters of previous anti-terror laws believe they become law without sufficient scrutiny, it’s reasonable to expect lawmakers to ask questions of a bill of this magnitude so they can fully understand what they’re about to vote on.
Two nights ago Greens national security spokesperson Penny Wright attempted to do exactly that, grilling Attorney-General George Brandis on crucial aspects of the bill like what “aiding and facilitating” might be taken to mean, or who might be included in a “class of Australian persons”.
Unfortunately, Brandis decided he didn’t feel like answering questions that day. Like, at all. Instead of responding to questions about major anti-terror laws, or even giving a snarky non-answer like he often does, Brandis just sat in the Senate and ignored them like he was waiting for a bus.
On one level, this is bad because it’s just not done. Questions put to a government minister, especially one with the seniority that the Attorney-General has, should be (and almost always are) provided with some form of answer. If a person in government just decides they don’t have to answer questions in the Senate, they could just as easily decide as much about journalists or members of the public in general.
On another level, though, Brandis’ attitude is genuinely frightening. Laws that give security agencies the power to deprive people of their rights and operate overseas, even when they might be overwhelmingly necessary, deserve rigorous oversight and clarity so they aren’t abused. At the very least, people deserve to know what’s in laws like that before they come into effect. We now have anti-terror legislation on the books that Australia’s most senior lawmaker either can’t or won’t explain the purpose and effects of.
You can watch the whole exchange here (skip to about eight minutes in), or watch one of the highlights below.