Who could forget the 9/11 World Trade Center attack in the United States?
It left the entire world at the edge of their seats. And since then, almost all countries around the globe, including Australia, reevaluated their existing laws on terrorism. Many amended, modified and added new provisions to strengthen their stance against terrorism.
What is the act of terrorism?
Under the Criminal Code Act of 1995, an “act of terrorism” is defined as acts or threats to commit the following:
- Advancement of a political, religious or ideological cause;
- Induces death or serious harm, or endangers a person;
- Causes severe property damage;
- Renders serious peril to the health or safety of the people; and
- Seriously intrudes or interrupts with essential infrastructure.
These acts are done with the intent of coercing or influencing the government, public or a section of the country with the use of intimidation.
Note that the term does not include activities that encourage the public to join a protest, advocacy or industrial actions that are not aimed at causing harm to persons or properties.
What is meant by “advancement of a political, religious or ideological cause?”
The phrase “advancement of a political, religious or ideological cause” pertains to the promotion of activities, beliefs or a set of conduct different from the established social norm. In most cases, it would otherwise affect the peace and order of a given locality, state or country.
The “political, religious or ideological cause” is the element that makes a bombing or other serious crimes different from an offender who planted a bomb in a building because he wanted mere revenge from being embarrassed and fired at work.
When a person causes harm or endangers the public because he wanted his religious affiliation to dominate a certain locality, this becomes an act of terrorism.
What is meant by “advocacy, protest, dissent and industrial action?”
The phrase “advocacy, protest, dissent and industrial action” is centred on the idea that there is no intention of causing danger to the public nor influencing the government to adhere to their “advocacy, protest, dissent and industrial action.”
Let’s say you were raising a protest outside the building of your employment for a fair salary. Whether it is lawful or unlawful, it cannot be considered an act of terrorism. This is because there is no political, religious or ideological cause aiming to intimidate and influence the public or government.
What are the offences associated with the act of terrorism?
Here are some offences that may be considered as acts of terrorism:
- Committing any terrorist acts defined under Division 101 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act 1995;
- Preparing and/or planning to commit an act of terrorism;
- Financing any terrorist or act of terrorism;
- Receiving or providing any form of training that will lead to terrorist acts;
- Possession of things and properties that are in connection with a terrorist group or for the purpose of committing a terrorist act.
- Securing and creating documents for the purpose of facilitating any act of terrorism;
- Becoming a member of a known or unknown terrorist organization; and
- Training, supporting, funding or being associated with a terrorist or any organization thereof.
In some cases, the following may also be considered as offences relating to acts of terrorism:
- Entering or making preparations to enter a foreign country while having the intention of engaging in hostile activities; and
- Remaining in or entering a currently declared area as engaging in a hostile activity.
What happens if you are charged with an offence associated with acts of terrorism?
If you are being charged with an offence related to acts of terrorism, you will be detained and summoned in court. You have the burden to prove that your acts do not constitute an act of terrorism.
It helps to hire a professional legal team that will hear you, investigate your case and defend your cause in court. Being charged with an act of terrorism is no ordinary case, hence, engaging the services of a criminal defence lawyer can help you get the best outcome in court.
What happens if you are found guilty of an offence associated with acts of terrorism?
Generally, if you are found guilty of committing any act of terrorism, you could be sentenced to imprisonment. The length of the sentence varies on the gravity of actions and the resulting consequences of your acts. However, many cases associated with terrorist acts are penalised with life imprisonment.
What is the focus of the Australian law on counter-terrorism?
The counter-terrorism law of Australia is focused on providing a clear and conclusive definition of “acts of terrorism.” It aims to avoid ambiguities to ensure the rights of every person – whether or not you are charged and/or found guilty of the crime.
The law also focuses to prevent the formation and/or facilitation of a terrorist organisation. This includes offering or providing support and funding to said terrorists or organisations of such nature. The Australian laws aim to have full control over the occurrence of any acts of terrorism.
Contact Smith Criminal Law to learn more!