Heightened Screening and Security for People Arriving at Australian Airports

by Ray Clancy on March 18, 2015

in Australia, Australia Travel

People arriving at airports in Australia are experiencing heightened security and screening because of the threat of terrorism is growing, according to immigration minister Peter Dutton.

He revealed that more than 400 travellers are stopped and questioned every day by special teams at Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Cairns, Gold Coast, Adelaide and Darwin airports.

australiaAIRPORTThis means that almost 76,000 people have been quizzed between August last year and February 2015 as part of a crackdown on those who might be sympathetic to extremists.

Customs officers are asking ‘persons of interest’ a series of questions to determine their risk to national security and whether further action is required and Dutton said that they are acting in accordance with the law and respect cultural sensitivities.

Officers screen all inbound and outbound passengers and use a range of indicators to determine which passengers are questioned and it is successful, according to Dutton who pointed that earlier this month the authorities intercepted two teenage brothers at Sydney airport who they believed were planning to join fighting in the Middle East.

The Australian brothers aged 16 and 17 were believed to be attempting to travel to conflict zones in the Middle East and were stopped at Sydney Airport by Customs and Border Protection officers.

The teenagers had return tickets to a destination in the Middle East but officials determined that they were intending to travel without the knowledge of their parents. Searches of their luggage further raised suspicions of their intent. The brothers were later allowed to leave the airport with their parents.

Dutton said the brothers initially aroused the suspicions of two alert Customs and Border Protection officers. ‘’What we have here are two teenagers who have been intercepted on their way to a potentially very dangerous situation,’ he explained.

‘This highlights afresh the need to work within communities and with parents to disrupt attempts to brainwash our young people. It is yet another reminder of the need for parents to remain vigilant against this type of threat,’ he pointed out.

‘’This event also showcases the critical work of Australian Customs and Border Protection officers operating around the clock at our borders to prevent people travelling in this way,’ he added.

It comes as significant legislative changes are being undertaken to strengthen Australia’s borders. The new Foreign Fighters Act allows Customs officers to detain people where the officer has reasonable grounds to suspect that the person is intending to commit a Commonwealth offence or is a threat to national security or the security of a foreign country.

Once detained by a Customs officer an individual or group is made available to the appropriate law enforcement agency as soon as practicable. Dutton said that the new law plays a crucial role in Australia’s defence against foreign fighters, as it prevents individuals from travelling outside of Australia where their intention is to commit acts of violence.
He added that this not only assists in the prevention of terrorist acts offshore, but also prevents these individuals from returning to Australia with greater capacity to carry out terrorist attacks on Australian soil.

Legislation to establish the Australian Border Force and to collect biometric data at air and seaports has been introduced into Federal Parliament. Dutton said it was important that the Parliament recognises the need to progress the legislation without delay.

 

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