Baird's proposal to tighten bail laws a 'knee-jerk' reaction, say legal experts | Law

Baird's proposal to tighten bail laws a 'knee-jerk' reaction, say legal experts

Professor Alex Steel comments in The Sydney Morning Herald (22 February 2015) on NSW Premier Mike Baird's proposal to tighten bail laws for people identified as a terrorist risk. 

Professor Alex Steel, said no magistrate would be likely to grant bail to a person accused of a serious violence offence and if the prosecution produced strong evidence the person is a likely terrorist.

"[T]he more pertinent questions are how to ensure that local prosecutors know of this information, and how credible it is," Professor Steel said.

"We have to be very careful to allow courts to assess for themselves – and not just rely on an assertion from authorities – whether the intelligence amounts to evidence of a terrorist risk and not other forms of disaffection."

"The question of bail also has to be linked to the offence charged. It's not appropriate to detain a person charged with only an offensive language offence on a ground they might be a terrorist.  Detaining a person who might be a terrorist should be based on an offence that is related to terrorism."

Professor Steel said a person identified by authorities as a terrorist risk so great as to warrant detention in custody should be charged with an appropriate terrorism offence. 

"If none can be identified this would suggest that at this stage, they have not done anything that should infringe their liberty," he said.

Read the full story here.