Internet ban and curfew for potential militants?

Internet ban and curfew for potential militants?
The controversial measures would allow police to strictly monitor people believed to be falling prey to radical propaganda, even if they have not been arrested.

Several states in Australia are planning to introduce "intervention" measures to be imposed on young people deemed at risk of being radicalised, including curfews and bans on Internet use.

The controversial measures would allow police to strictly monitor people believed to be falling prey to radical propaganda, even if they have not been arrested. Currently, the authorities can intervene pre-emptively to detain terror suspects only if they believe an attack is imminent.

The states of Victoria and Queensland - with federal backing - are considering the new measures, which follow the emergence of several alleged terrorist plots by teenagers.

Victoria's Attorney-General, Mr Martin Pakula, said the measures would help to prevent extremist groups from grooming teenagers online.

"It is about ensuring that if we do have young people who are on the margins of being radicalised, that can be dealt with," he told The Australian on Tuesday.

Like many countries, Australia has been struggling to deal with growing numbers of young people being lured by recruiters to head abroad to fight for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or to plot domestic terrorist attacks.

The proposed laws would allow courts to impose orders on individuals deemed likely to fall under the sway of radicals. The orders could include restrictions on whom the individuals can have contact with and could require them to report regularly to police and undergo counter-radicalisation programmes.

The federal government has backed the proposals for court-ordered intervention and reportedly wants all states and territories to adopt them.

But the proposals drew criticism from legal analysts and community groups, who said labelling young people as threats or criminals risked further antagonising them.

The authorities have uncovered numerous plots in recent months involving teenagers allegedly preparing attacks, typically after discussing the plans with radicals online.

The latest plot was exposed last month and involved a 17-year-old in Melbourne who allegedly planned to set off bombs in the city centre. Police said the teenager had dropped out of school and was radicalised on the Internet.

The Muslim community in Victoria expressed reservations about the new proposals, saying it was important to ensure that young vulnerable people received support and mentoring and that they did not feel victimised.

"We want to avoid driving a person further down the path of violent extremism," Mr Kuranda Seyit, from the Islamic Council of Victoria, told ABC News.

Australia has been grappling with ways to deal with the potential threat from Australians returning home after fighting with ISIS.

More than 25 Australians have died fighting for the militants and about 100 are currently fighting for or supporting the movement, according to Australia's domestic spy agency.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has proposed some of the world's toughest laws for dealing with returning militants, including laws to strip dual citizens of their nationality. This would apply to about half of the Australians fighting abroad for ISIS.

The proposals, which are likely to be introduced in Parliament this month, are similar to laws in Canada and France.

This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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