August 29, 2006 | Graham

AVO for Jihad Jack

There’s been a frenzied reaction from some to the Interim Control Order that has been placed on Jack Thomas, the erstwhile Al Qaeda member dubbed “Jihad Jack” by the media.
It seems out of all proportion to the restraints that have been placed on him. The controls are that he’s not allowed to stay-out after midnight, or to hit the pavements before 5:00 a.m. He also has to report to police three days each week. This regime will last until 1st September, 2006 when the matter will be tried before a magistrate and a Confirmed Control Order may be issued which may or may not have the same terms.
President of Liberty Victoria, Brian Waters SC says in today’s Crikey!:

A magistrate will consider this further, but only a very limited basis. There will be no fair trial of the issues. There will be no proper rules of evidence. There will be no presumption of innocence. We have departed from centuries of hard won democratic tradition under which deprivation of liberty can only follow an accusation of crime, with a trial in which guilt would have to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.

He may be right, but he’s being selective in his outrage. For thousands of people each year a similar process occurs when they are given an apprehended violence order. In many of these cases there is no fair trial of the issues, no presumption of innocence, and no crime. Defendants are often advised to accept the order by consent because they are not criminal in nature. What’s more, magistrates are very prone to award them, preferring to err on the side of caution.
As a result AVOs are a common form of oppression, often applied with much less cause than this control order. That civil libertarians hardly ever raise their concerns about them is presumably because they are supposed to be protecting potential victims – women and children. Ironic that in some civil liberties lexicons the terror suspect seems to have joined the category of victim.

Posted by Graham at 4:43 pm | Comments (6) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. I’d agree with you except those others don’t rate a media mention at all or if they do it is only local to that region. And what is the goal here: to promote this “Liberty” Organisation and that’s it.
    So its action and reactions are perfectly understandable.

    Comment by vee — August 30, 2006 @ 10:54 am

  2. I haven’t had any experience with AVO’s but I would have thought they simply restrict who you can have contact with and perhaps going to certain locations. I don’t think they require reporting to the police 3 times a week. Thomas is also required to give police details of all communication devices eg telephones, computers he has. I think you will find the restrictions put on Thomas are far more severe than an AVO. A person subject to an AVO will still be able to get on with their life. I don’t think that applies to Thomas

    Comment by rossco — August 30, 2006 @ 5:02 pm

  3. I am neither an absolute pacifist nor an absolute civil libertarian (but I am glad there are noisy supporters of both these positions to counterbalance governments). It is very unlikely Thomas is a risk but the risk is not so small as to mean that he should not be watched. I am open to persuasion but some of the order terms seem petty to me and I don’t see their relevance to protecting the community.

    Comment by Geoff R — August 31, 2006 @ 10:19 am

  4. What bothers me about all this is the fact that if Thomas really is a threat to national security, and really could be contacted by militants, than wouldn’t it make more sense to handle the situation covertly, in the hope of snaring a bigger fish?
    I’m quite sure the AFP gets up to a bit of covert mischief, that’s really their purpose for being. If they can’t do that, then they’re not very useful.
    As this order has been widely publicized, I can only assume this is more about politics and less about combating terrorism.

    Comment by TurnRightThenLeft — September 1, 2006 @ 12:07 pm

  5. The difference of course is that the young man was found to be innocent of all charges after the AFP allowed him to be interviewed without lawyers in a foreign country that is renowned for torture and for selling ‘suspects” to the US to be taken to Gitmo Bay.
    The AFP are outrageous and now they want to persecute this man out of sheer spite.

    Comment by Marilyn — September 1, 2006 @ 5:39 pm

  6. rossco
    AVO’s are far worse than you (and most people think). They can have far reaching impacts on your life (and as the blog topic ‘AVO for Jihad Jack’) articulated – all without a wiff of any evidence being heard before a court. But even worse, in Tasmania late last year a ‘presumption against bail’ law was introduced in relation to AVOs. This means that anyone accused (falsely or otherwise) is automatically imprisoned until the matter can be heard in court (some weeks later). But then many men will have lost their jobs, thus unable to afford legal representaion and be tarnished with a forever sticking mud. I dont see any civil liberties people raging against this.

    Comment by PKay — September 5, 2006 @ 11:08 pm

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