ALA spokesperson and barrister Greg Barns says the safeguards built into the Australian legal system to ensure fairness to all individuals were being damaged by media coverage of the raids.
“The presence of media at this morning’s raids by police and ASIO on homes in Sydney and Queensland is undermining of the presumption of innocence and fairness,” says Barns.
“Every time there are raids and arrests made by police and ASIO in so called ‘terror cases’ the media is always there to film proceedings.
“Further images of individuals in handcuffs and of their homes are designed to create an atmosphere of guilt and suspicion.”
Barns says it shouldn’t be forgotten that previous raids have come attached with “grossly inaccurate claims”, citing the implications of a proposed terrorist threat in 2005 as an example.
“We need also to remember that when previous raids have taken place, inflammatory and grossly inaccurate claims have been made by politicians and police about those arrested or raided,” he says.
“In 2005, for example, Victoria’s Police Commissioner and some media outlets made claims that an imminent terrorist attack was thwarted and iconic Melbourne buildings were targeted, because some young men were arrested.
“The evidence at the trial of these men in 2008 showed that these claims were utterly false.
“No matter how serious the allegations of criminal conduct, we do not abandon fundamental principles of our legal system so that police can have press coverage.
“What separates us from those who would create terror is our fundamental belief in a fair trial.”
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