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Counter-terrorism and information: The NSI Act, fair trials and open, accountable government

Journal Article


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Abstract


  • This paper investigates Australia’s National Security Information (Criminal and Civil

    Proceedings) Act 2004 (Cth) (NSI Act) focusing on its provisions for protecting

    national security information. The investigation highlights the broad and encompassing

    definitions of ‘national security’ and ‘information’ used in the Act and considers the

    measures it prescribes for the protection of so-called ‘security sensitive’ information in

    Federal civil and criminal proceedings. The paper then examines the implications of the

    definitions and measures for a suspect’s prospects of receiving a fair trial in terrorism

    cases. Here, the paper highlights the serious restrictions the Act places on a legallyaided

    person’s right to engage a legal representative of their own choosing. These

    restrictions are then compared with those obtaining in some comparable jurisdictions.

    As important as the NSI Act’s definitions and measures are for the way in which they

    limit a terrorism suspect’s chances of a fair trial, their significance extends well beyond

    this very serious issue to even deeper concerns. These relate to the secrecy and lack of

    transparency surrounding the conduct of terrorism cases, the opaqueness of the

    processes for classifying and protecting information, and the potential for tendentious

    or improper use of information by the political executive and national security agencies

    enabled by the dearth of avenues for external, independent scrutiny. At the core of these

    concerns, then, are issues of the accountability and integrity of the government and of

    the agencies under its direction. Using the experience of Mohamed Haneef as a case

    study, the final section of the paper investigates the important role that defence counsel,

    the media, and other independent parties can play in facilitating public scrutiny of the

    conduct of terrorism investigations and trials and in exposing the improper use

    sometimes made of protected information by the political executive in attempting to

    influence the conduct of these cases.

Publication Date


  • 2011

Citation


  • Rix, M. (2011). Counter-terrorism and information: The NSI Act, fair trials and open, accountable government. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 25 (2), 285-297.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-79954578988

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1035&context=gsbpapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/gsbpapers/33

Number Of Pages


  • 12

Start Page


  • 285

End Page


  • 297

Volume


  • 25

Issue


  • 2

Place Of Publication


  • http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2011.554059

Abstract


  • This paper investigates Australia’s National Security Information (Criminal and Civil

    Proceedings) Act 2004 (Cth) (NSI Act) focusing on its provisions for protecting

    national security information. The investigation highlights the broad and encompassing

    definitions of ‘national security’ and ‘information’ used in the Act and considers the

    measures it prescribes for the protection of so-called ‘security sensitive’ information in

    Federal civil and criminal proceedings. The paper then examines the implications of the

    definitions and measures for a suspect’s prospects of receiving a fair trial in terrorism

    cases. Here, the paper highlights the serious restrictions the Act places on a legallyaided

    person’s right to engage a legal representative of their own choosing. These

    restrictions are then compared with those obtaining in some comparable jurisdictions.

    As important as the NSI Act’s definitions and measures are for the way in which they

    limit a terrorism suspect’s chances of a fair trial, their significance extends well beyond

    this very serious issue to even deeper concerns. These relate to the secrecy and lack of

    transparency surrounding the conduct of terrorism cases, the opaqueness of the

    processes for classifying and protecting information, and the potential for tendentious

    or improper use of information by the political executive and national security agencies

    enabled by the dearth of avenues for external, independent scrutiny. At the core of these

    concerns, then, are issues of the accountability and integrity of the government and of

    the agencies under its direction. Using the experience of Mohamed Haneef as a case

    study, the final section of the paper investigates the important role that defence counsel,

    the media, and other independent parties can play in facilitating public scrutiny of the

    conduct of terrorism investigations and trials and in exposing the improper use

    sometimes made of protected information by the political executive in attempting to

    influence the conduct of these cases.

Publication Date


  • 2011

Citation


  • Rix, M. (2011). Counter-terrorism and information: The NSI Act, fair trials and open, accountable government. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 25 (2), 285-297.

Scopus Eid


  • 2-s2.0-79954578988

Ro Full-text Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1035&context=gsbpapers

Ro Metadata Url


  • http://ro.uow.edu.au/gsbpapers/33

Number Of Pages


  • 12

Start Page


  • 285

End Page


  • 297

Volume


  • 25

Issue


  • 2

Place Of Publication


  • http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10304312.2011.554059