It defines two general categories of information that are to be regarded as secret:. Inherently harmful information means any information that has a security classification attached to it, or belongs to one of the intelligence services, or relates to the operations of an intelligence service or a law-enforcement agency. It is an open-ended catch-all that is used to go after public servants who leak and the journalists who publish those leaks.
Read more: Media raids raise questions about AFP's power and weak protection for journalists and whistleblowers. The effect is to leave it open for the government to decide what information can be used to form the basis of prosecutions.
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This means the law is vulnerable to abuse through arbitrary enforcement of the kind that the Australian Federal Police has come to specialise in. It states that anyone who receives, deals with or publishes the classes of information described in the law are also liable to be prosecuted, along with the leaker.
First, who is a journalist? Everyone engaged in doing news journalism, including bloggers and citizen journalists?
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Or only those employed by big media organisations? Finally, the onus is on the journalist to prove his or her innocence beyond reasonable doubt. That is the reverse of the usual practice in criminal law where the onus is on the prosecution to prove guilt. The entire Part 5.
The public interest needs to be defined; the act needs to make it clear that anyone doing journalism is presumed to be entitled to the public-interest defence. There is not space here even to scratch the surface of the repressions built into the 75 or so national security laws that Australia has enacted, the overwhelming bulk of them since the terrorist attacks of September 11 However, they need to be comprehensively reviewed against a set of principles concerning freedom of the press. These are a subset of the national security laws and are contained in the notorious Telecommunications Interception and Access Amendment Data Retention Act , which caused such a public outcry when it was enacted in May Metadata tells anyone who looks at it who called whom, when, where, for how long and on what device.
Read more: Infographic: Metadata and data retention explained.
Examples of Charter-related cases
Recognising this, parliament included in Division 4C of the act some window-dressing to give the impression there is some protection for journalists and their sources. Again, it is unclear if this includes bloggers and citizen journalists, and their sources. In some circumstances, the director-general of security gets one through the minister in charge of the security services. If that minister cannot be reached, the director-general can try the prime minister, the foreign minister or the defence minister.
The first exclusion protects the existence of an ongoing criminal law enforcement investigation when the subject of the investigation is unaware that it is pending and disclosure could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings. The third exclusion is limited to the FBI and protects the existence of foreign intelligence or counterintelligence, or international terrorism records when the existence of such records is classified.
Records falling within exclusion are not subject to the requirements of the FOIA. The FOIA applies only to federal agencies and does not create a right of access to records held by Congress, the courts, or by state or local government agencies. The words create beautiful moral norms — dignity, liberty, equality, inalienable rights. But these words have little binding effect if they are not incorporated in law and backed by society.
Laws vary according to the government, culture and values of a particular country, but the yearning for self-determination remains constant. Implanted in every human heart is the desire for respect, humane treatment and the space to practice beliefs alone or in a community of believers. In this way religious freedom has the force of a fundamental human right, grounded in human expectations even before laws are made.
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Religious freedom is not absolute. Today and throughout history some people have done terrible things in the name of religion — terrorism, racial violence, murder, theft, abuse.
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The law rightfully prohibits such activities and puts safeguards in place to prevent them. Religious freedom does not include the right to be violent, endanger public safety or health, steal or damage property or prey on the weak. Fortunately, such abuses are an exception to the generally decent behavior of religious people and groups, most of whom desire only the freedom to live out their beliefs in dignity and peace. Legal limits on religious exercise should be imposed only when necessary to protect truly vital interests.