Counter-Terrorism, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Counter-Terrorism, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Crossing Legal Boundaries in Defence of the State

Edited by Aniceto Masferrer and Clive Walker

The initial responses to 9/11 engaged categorical questions about ‘war’, ‘terrorism’, and ‘crime’. Now the implementation of counter-terrorism law is infused with dichotomies – typically depicted as the struggle between security and human rights, but explored more exactingly in this book as traversing boundaries around the roles of lawyers, courts, and crimes; the relationships between police, military, and security agencies; and the interplay of international and national enforcement. The contributors to this book explore how developments in counter-terrorism have resulted in pressures to cross important ethical, legal and organizational boundaries. They identify new tensions and critique the often unwanted outcomes within common law, civil law, and international legal systems.

Chapter 9: Critical perspectives on the evaluation of counter-terrorism strategies

Susan Donkin and Simon Bronitt

Subjects: law - academic, criminal law and justice, human rights, terrorism and security law


The events of 11 September 2001 (9/11), as well as subsequent inter- national terrorist attacks in Bali, Madrid and London, have had a profound effect on political and law enforcement priorities in Australia. The 9/11 attacks led to significant increases of expenditure on counter- terrorism (CT), with the adoption of new coercive legislative powers, the reprioritising and reorganising of police and security agencies and an expanded capability of the military to take action against terrorist threats at home and abroad. This investment in CT has been staggering. For instance, it is estimated that the Australian Federal Government spent over $8 billion (AUD) on counter-terrorism efforts (excluding military spending) in the first five years post 9/11. By comparison, the US Department of Homeland Security expenditure between 2003 and 2011 totalled $286,781 million (USD). Of course, the cost of the so-called ‘war on terror’3 is measurable not only in financial terms. CT legislation and policies have eroded many fundamental liberal ideals, principles and doctrines, spawning an extensive human rights critique which we do not intend to rehearse here. Notwithstanding the substantial human and financial cost of the ‘war on terror’, governments rarely justify the adoption or evaluate the effects of new CT initiatives by reference to scientifically informed research. The sensitive nature of CT casts a shroud of secrecy over the activities of those agencies responsible for developing and implementing new policy initiatives. Although the justifications for confidentiality in terms of national security are comprehensible, some have suggested that secrecy may also serve as a cloak for incompetence.

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