A 20-year-old Australian who alleged he was tortured by a foreign intelligence agency was forced to undergo a coercive interrogation before the Australian Crime Commission and questioned more than five times by Australian Security Intelligence Organisation operatives.
The ACC can compel people to attend hearings in secret and force them to answer questions.
After refusing to answer a series of inquiries to the ACC’s satisfaction, ZZ was charged and found guilty of contempt by the federal court and imprisoned for a month until he agreed to answer questions.
The president of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, told Guardian Australia the “draconian powers” of the ACC were of great concern.
“There is almost no scrutiny or accountability with how the ACC works. And it is entirely possible that its activities are a significant factor in deterring people in the Australian community from cooperating with law enforcement agencies because of the fear that draconian powers will be used against them,” he said.
“We need to return to a system where people cannot be forced, against their will, to give evidence which incriminates themselves or their spouses, children or parents. The privilege against self-incrimination is a fundamental freedom. Any government concerned with fundamental freedoms would turn their attention to the operation of the ACC and reduce its powers.”
Source: The Guardian