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State-sanctioned killing

8 May 2015

The different legal and moral justifications for state-sanctioned killing between citizen/criminal/internal/law enforcement and alien/armed conflict/overseas/military contexts have become increasingly blurred as the state has struggled to respond in a measured and effective way to the threat of extreme and indiscriminate ideologically-motivated violence against members of the community, sometimes by its own citizens. Now widely referred to as terrorism, the use of fear and propaganda to intimidate the community and elicit a repressive state reaction is a phenomenon that has been enabled by new technology and universal connectivity.

The Australian Government's attitude towards citizens travelling to participate in overseas armed conflicts potentially poses significant moral and policy dilemmas. The Government has recently expressed implacable opposition to the imposition of the death penalty in Indonesia, and the Australian Federal Police were criticised for alerting the Indonesian authorities to the impending drug importation given the possibility of the death penalty for those apprehended in Indonesia. In contrast, the Australian Government has pre-emptively criminalised participation by citizens in overseas conflicts, and has reportedly agreed to share intelligence on nationals travelling overseas with countries like Turkey and Iran. The sharing of intelligence on Australian citizens with authorities overseas clearly has the potential to facilitate their targeted killing as terrorists.

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