Mon, Jun 12, 2017 - Page 4 News List

NSW to isolate militants in prison

Reuters, SYDNEY

Australia is to build its first prison aimed at isolating militants and stopping the spread of radical beliefs through the prison system as part of efforts to eliminate terrorism, the premier of New South Wales state said yesterday.

The unit will be housed within a maximum-security prison and have capacity for 54 inmates, who will be isolated and intensely monitored, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.

New South Wales, which is home to about a third of Australia’s 24-million-strong population, has been the site of two terror attacks in recent years, including a cafe siege in 2014 where two hostages were killed.

“We’ll be giving A$47 [US$35.4] million over the next three years to have the extra capacity to isolate those prisoners who are likely to try a spread radicalization through the prison network,” Berejiklian told reporters in Sydney.

“We are in new territory. The incidents of terrorism activity we’ve seen in Australia and around the world has been unprecedented in modern times,” Berejiklian said.

There are 33 people within the New South Wales’ prison system who have been jailed for terrorist offences, the state government said.

Australia has seen a series of “lone wolf” militant Muslim-inspired attacks recently, prompting a review of police tactics and the powers of state and federal authorities.

“We’re a government taking nothing to chance, we’ll be making sure we continue to have the toughest position in the nation in relation to reducing and eliminating terrorism activity,” Berejiklian said.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last week signaled a drive to reform parole laws, including a ban on parole for violent offenders with links to militancy, following a deadly siege claimed by the Islamic State group on Monday.

Police shot dead gunman Yacqub Khayre, who was on parole for a violent home invasion, in Melbourne after he killed a man in an apartment block and held a woman hostage for several hours.

Turnbull and Australian Attorney General George Brandis launched stinging criticism of state governments, which are responsible for parole laws, after the Melbourne attack.

Australia passed laws last year allowing the indefinite detention of anyone convicted of terror-related offences if authorities believed that person posed a threat after their release.

New South Wales police on Thursday were authorized to shoot suspects in terrorist-related incidents even if the attacker does not pose an imminent threat.

They previously had to wait until a suspect demonstrated an imminent threat to others.

The change comes after questions were raised about the police strategy of “contain and negotiate” in hostage situations.

A coroner said last month police had failed to act quickly enough to tackle a 2014 siege in a Sydney cafe that left three people dead. Additional reporting by AFP

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