International watchdog Human Rights Watch has reprimanded the Australian government over its police raids on journalists in its latest annual report.
In the 652-page World Report 2020, Human Rights Watch said Australia’s national security laws had a “chilling effect” on journalists and their sources and the nation’s “overly broad” national security laws could be misused.
An example of this is the Australian Federal Police raid of News Corp journalist Annika Smethurst in June 2019, as well as the ABC Sydney’s headquarters after they published stories containing classified information.
The raids caused an inquiry by the parliamentary joint committee on intelligence and security, which is due to hand down its findings in the next few months into the effect of national security laws on Australia’s press freedoms.
Human Rights Watch Australia director Elaine Pearson said: “The government seems intent on sending a message to officials not to share information with journalists.”
Offshore processing of refugees, new encryption laws, the repeal of the medevac laws and the over-representation of Indigenous Australians in the criminal justice system were also raised as issues in the report.
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