NSWCCL in the media

Counter-terrorism laws could pave way for torture

The NSW Council for Civil Liberties has called for a one-line amendment to ensure the government’s proposed changes to counter-terrorism laws do not leave the way open for ASIO officers to argue they have legal immunity for torture.

The call has been triggered by concern that planned changes aimed at protecting undercover ASIO officers might have the unintended consequence of encouraging them to believe they have legal immunity to engage in torture.

Article: Counterterrorism laws pave way for ASIO to use torture, says Council

Source: The Australian, 19/9/14


NSWCCL accuses Labor of hypocrisy for not opposing controversial changes to bails laws

NSWCCL says it would be an extraordinary manifestation of hypocrisy for Labor to 'not oppose' the legislation, as it has suggested it will do.  CCL Secretary Lesley Lynch says  CCL greatly disappointment with the Government putting forward this bill and argues that if it is bad process and bad law, Labor should oppose the bill. 

Article Labor accused of hypocrisy over controversial changes to bail laws SMH 


NSW Police cyber hacking could be breaking the law, warns civil liberties lawyer

WikiLeaks documents suggest that NSW Police have invested more than $2.5 million on German surveillance software that officers are using to hack into suspects' smartphones and computers. NSWCCL President Stephen Blanks speaks to ABC Radio about NSW Police usage of cyber hacking tools.

Listen now: NSW Police cyber hacking could be breaking the law, warns civil liberties lawyer

Source: ABC Radio, 16/9/14


Revelations that NSW Police use sophisticated hacking software raises serious concerns

Documents published by Wikileaks on Monday have revealed NSW Police usage of sophisticated hacking software to spy on smartphones computers. Police can obtain 'covert' warrants allowing them to gain secret access to suspects devices and data, however the software offers potentially broader spying capabilities leading to concerns that it could be used inappropriately beyond the intended scope of the search warrant.

NSWCCL's Stephen Blanks offered the following comment: "The use of software like this to enable law-enforcement agencies to remotely access computer networks raises particular concerns and it is vital that there is sufficient information made available about the use of [the associated] warrants so that the public can be satisfied that they are not being abused."

Article: NSW Police use hacking software to spy on computers and smartphones: WikiLeaks data

Source: The Age, 15/9/14


Alleged Australian people smuggler stripped of passport over secret ASIO evidence

An Australian citizen has been stripped of his passport on the basis of secret ASIO evidence that allegedly shows he is a people smuggler.

"The extraordinary thing about it is it's not a case involving terrorism, it's a case involving people smuggling," Mr Blanks said.

"So when the Government says that these powers are needed to deal with the terrorist threat, that's actually quite misleading when they use them in relation to people smuggling cases.

"Certainly threats to border and territorial integrity were inserted into the definition of security in 2010, but it's not clear that people smuggling is within that definition or should be."

Article: Alleged Australian people smuggler stripped of passport over secret ASIO evidence

Source: ABC News, 5/9/2014



Alleged Australian people smuggler's passport cancelled

ASIO has cancelled the passport of an Austrlalian citizen believed to be involved with people smuggling. This is based on a secret assessment and without opportunity for the accused to challenge the allegations in court, under Australia's recently toughened 'anti-terror' national security laws .

NSWCCL President Stephen Blanks spoke to ABC Radio's AM:

"Accusing somebody of people smuggling is accusing them of a criminal offence. If they charged the person with the criminal offence they would have to produce evidence that could be revealed in open court and the accused would have his day in court to answer it. This way there is no idea of what the evidence is and the accused has no fair opportunity to answer the accusation."

Listen now: Alleged Australian people smuggler's passport cancelled

Source: ABC Radio AM, 5/9/2014


Timor-Leste spy scandal demonstrates need for greater whistleblower protections

The attorney general, George Brandis, has denied referring lawyer Bernard Collaery and a former intelligence officer to the Australian federal police after they revealed that Australia spied on Timor-Leste during negotiations over a lucrative oil and gas pipeline.

The head of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties, Stephen Blanks, said the lack of a public-interest defence available to Collaery or the agent was “a gaping hole in Australia’s legal system”.

“Some of the most important breachers of classified info have been totally justified because of those being in the public interest,” he said.

“What this prosecution will do is have a chilling effect on potential whistleblowers and the media and if it continues, there will be self-censorship and the media will not live up to its obligation of being a fearless investigator and reporter on matters of national importance.”

Article: Timor-Leste spy case: Brandis denies referring lawyer to police

Source: The Guardian 1/9/2014


No response on indefinite detention: Stephen Blanks speaks to ABC's Lateline

Twelve months after the United Nations Human Rights Tribunal criticised the indefinite detention of more than forty refugees with negative security assessments from ASIO, the Abbott government has failed to respond to the tribunal's report.

"Australia's Government is thumbing its nose at the UN, saying, 'We're not interested in what you think about human rights.' "

Video: No response on indefinite detention

Source: ABC 'Lateline', 21/8/2014


Changes to Australian Security Laws Will Make Illegally Obtained Evidence Permissible in Court

ASIO is pushing for the new laws which are being sold to the public as necessary to guard against terror. Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Attorney General George Brandis and ASIO director general David Irvine have been keen to link the laws to the threat of Australian jihadis fighting overseas.


Article: Changes to Australian Security Laws Will Make Illegally Obtained Evidence Permisable in Court

Source: VICE, 19/8/2014


Privacy advocates criticise far-reaching ASIO surveillance powers

New digital surveillance powers for Australia's top security agency have been described as 'too expansive' by leading civil liberties advocates.


Article: Privacy advocates criticise far-reaching ASIO surveillance powers

Source: CNET, 18/8/2014