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Australia proposes new counterterrorism laws

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 5, 2014 at 2:47 am •  Published: August 5, 2014
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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia's government on Tuesday announced plans to regulate travel to terrorist hotbeds such as Iraq and Syria as part of a raft of counterterrorism measures aimed at addressing the domestic threat posed by war-hardened homegrown Islamic extremists.

The government announced proposed laws and 630 million Australian dollars ($590 million) in additional resources for intelligence and law enforcement agencies to help them to cope with the scores of Australians who return home after committing terrorist acts overseas.

"We don't want to subvert Australian justice," Prime Minister Tony Abbott told reports. "The last thing any of us would choose to do is to defend our system by damaging our system."

"But what we are determined to do is to ensure that where people have been involved in terrorist activities, it is much more readily possible to secure convictions than it currently is, given the difficulty of getting evidence of exactly what might be happening overseas," he added.

Abbott said it was difficult to find witnesses to testify in Australian courts to atrocities in foreign war zones that are often posted on social media websites.

"We've all seen truly shocking imagery of Australians born and bred doing absolutely horrific things to surrendering Iraqi police and military personnel," he said. "What we are now acutely conscious of is the danger posed back here in Australia by people returning to this country who have been radicalized and militarized by the experience of working with terrorist organizations overseas."

Under legislation to be introduced to Parliament in the next few weeks, it would become a criminal offense to travel to designated countries "without a valid reason."

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