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Aust.: Video Link evidence for terrorism cases

Video Link evidence for terrorism and related cases

Legislation passed by Parliament today will enhance the Australian Government’s continuing efforts to combat terrorism by assisting the prosecution of terrorism and related offences, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has announced.

The Law and Justice Legislation Amendment (Video Link Evidence and Other Measures) Act 2005 creates new video link evidence provisions in the Crimes Act 1914 so that, wherever possible, important evidence from overseas witnesses unable to travel to Australia can be put before the court using video link technology.

“It is becoming clear to successfully prosecute a terrorist, it will often be necessary to rely on evidence from witnesses who are living overseas,” Mr Ruddock said.

“The new video link evidence provisions strike a balance between facilitating the use of video link evidence while ensuring fundamental safeguards are maintained.”.

The new provisions will require a court to allow a witness to give evidence by video link, as long as the defendant’s right to a fair trial is not infringed.

The Bill also makes complementary changes to the Foreign Evidence Act 1994 to facilitate the use of foreign material as evidence in proceedings for terrorism and related offences.

“These changes do not alter the substantive rules that govern the admissibility of evidence, and the normal protections which apply under the rules of evidence will continue to apply to terrorism proceedings,” Mr Ruddock said.

“This legislation assists in the prosecution of the laws we have put in place to target terrorist activity.”

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