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Criminal Code Amendment (High Risk Terrorist Offenders) Bill 2016

1. The Law Council of Australia is grateful for the opportunity to provide the following submission to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security’s (the Committee’s) inquiry into the Criminal Code Amendment (High Risk Terrorism Offenders) Bill 2016 (the Bill). 

2. The Bill was introduced into the Senate on 15 September 2016. Relevantly, it amends Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) (Criminal Code) to establish a scheme for the continuing detention of high-risk terrorist offenders (detainees) who ‘pose an unacceptable risk to the community at the conclusion of their custodial sentence’.

3. The Supreme Court is authorised to make a continuing detention order (CDO) for no more than three years. However, a successive order, commencing immediately after a previous order ceases to be in force, can then be made by the Court.

4. The practical effect of these provisions is that an offender whose sentence had been served in full could be held in detention indefinitely after their sentence expires. The legislation does not stipulate a maximum number of CDOs that can be made in relation to each detainee, or the maximum total number of years for such detention. 

5. The Law Council acknowledges that the Bill is aimed at the legitimate objective of protecting the community from harm that may be caused by individuals convicted of terrorism offences who have not been de-radicalised or disengaged from terrorism. 

6. However, the Law Council notes the suite of existing powers in the Criminal Code to impose control orders and preventative detention orders and offences carrying life sentences in the case of those who threaten to carry out further terrorist acts. These are in addition to general parole conditions. 

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