Anti-terrorism control orders in Australia and the United Kingdom: a comparison

1 May 2008

Control orders have been part of Australian anti-terrorism legislation since December 2005. A control order is issued by a court (at the request of the Australian Federal Police) to allow obligations, prohibitions and restrictions to be imposed on a person, for the purpose of protecting the public from a terrorist act. The types of obligations, prohibitions and restrictions may include a curfew at a particular address, wearing of an electronic monitoring tag, restrictions on use of telecommunications, regular reporting to police, and a range of other measures. Two control orders have been issued in Australia to date, those applying to Jack Thomas and David Hicks.

Australia’s control order scheme is in part based upon the United Kingdom model, however there are significant differences. Criticisms of the Australian control order regime include concerns about the ex-parte nature of court hearings for interim control orders, reporting and accountability mechanisms, and questions surrounding whether the restrictions which may be imposed by control orders are sufficiently balanced with human rights protections.

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