“Terrorism” suspects as young as 10 could be detained for up to two weeks without charge under a new anti-terrorism law, Australia’s justice minister has confirmed.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said if children were detained under the new law, there would be protections in place, such as having an adult present.
New South Wales’ Premier Gladys Berejiklian said: “Unfortunately minors do get manipulated.
“We need to make sure we take every step we can to prevent any violent acts from occurring.”
WA Labour Premier Mark McGowan said: “Obviously if you don’t have this and if people are released they can go and destroy evidence, or even worse, they can go and detonate whatever material might have, so you have got to have proper precautions.
“We are dealing with the civil liberties of terrorists and I don’t particularly care about the civil liberties of terrorists or potential terrorists, so I think these are appropriate safeguards or precautions.”
The new counter-terrorism measures have sparked outrage among civil liberty and privacy groups.
Justice minister Michael Keenan told the ABC it was “deeply regrettable” that children could be held under the new counter-terrorism law, approved by federal and state governments at a special Council of Australian Governments meeting in Canberra on Thursday.
But he said ISIS specialised in the radicalisation and recruitment of children.
Keenan confirmed the new legislation would apply to children “as young as 10”, but said minors would be subject to “an enormous level of safeguards”.
“I’m very happy for these laws never to be used,” Keenan added, but law enforcement agencies needed to be given authority to deal with all situations when it came to national security threats.