National security wrap

The Beat

Report: Australia’s advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty

The Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade released its final report  to conclude the inquiry into Australia’s advocacy for the abolition of the death penalty last week. The report discusses the issue of drug trafficking and law enforcement and recommends that the Australian Federal Police amend its guidelines on international police-to-police cooperation in death penalty situations, in order to prevent the exposure of people—not just Australians—to charges that bring the death penalty. The report’s release comes almost exactly one year after two Australians were executed in Indonesia for drug trafficking. The Committee asked the AFP to examine the UK’s approach to police-to-police information sharing and a formal review has begun to benchmark and inform death penalty governance framework in Australia.

Jailing kingpins mightn’t reduce crime

A recent article from Foreign Policy explores the effect that high-profile arrests of drug kingpins have on the organised crime syndicates they head. Following the recent capture of a number of Latin American kingpins—such as Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman in January and Gerson ‘El Caracol’ Galvez last week—the article argues that kingpin arrests can actually lead to an increase in crime as organisations without a clear successor to continue transnational operations seek to fill the gap with local crime.

CT Scan

New counterterrorism plan for France

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls presented his government’s ‘plan of action against radicalisation and terrorism’ on Monday. One of the major announcements was the creation of 13 deradicalisation centres, which will see radicalised Islamists undergo psychological treatment and re-education classes run by specially trained social workers, psychoanalysts and teachers. The strategic document, which also includes tougher prison sentences for convicted terrorists and support for more university research into modern terrorism, adds 50 new measures to the 22 France adopted in April 2014 and the eight announced in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks last year.

Twitter blocks US intelligence agencies

A senior US intelligence official has confirmed Twitter has cut off US intelligence agencies from accessing a service which sends out alerts in the event of unfolding terrorist attacks, political unrest and other large-scale disasters. The service—which had been provided to US intelligence agencies for the past two years—is provided by Dataminr Inc., a private company that mines public Twitter feeds for its clients. Twitter has a policy of preventing third parties from selling its data to government agencies for surveillance purposes, and told The Wall Street Journal in a statement that the US government can review public accounts on its own.


Slippery when wet (not the 1986 Bon Jovi Album…)

Due to concerns that foreign crews on international vessels are circumventing border security forces, an Australian Senate committee hearing into Flag of Convenience shipping has called for greater scrutiny of the ‘potential security risks posed by flag-of-convenience vessels and foreign crews’. The second interim report of the inquiry has made nine recommendations, with the foremost suggesting a need to review the Australian maritime sector with widespread consultation with the Australian shipping industry. The inquiry comes in the wake of the government’s intention to allow international ships to transport cargo between Australian ports with crews from abroad.

A new visa assessment capability at Australia’s borders

The Coalition’s first funding pledge of the election campaign began yesterday when Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton announced the creation of a new ‘visa risk assessment capability’ within the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. The new system will merge immigration and border data, and link up with Australian law enforcement and intelligence agencies’ databases to bolster the visa processing system. The announcement comes in the wake of the release last week of the department’s budget.

First Responder

New global resilience index

Australia has ranked ninth in the 2016 FM Global Resilience Index (PDF) released on Tuesday. The index ranked 130 countries and territories on a combination of their vulnerability to supply chain disruption (including a dramatic fall in oil prices, natural disasters, corruption and terrorist attacks) and their ability to subsequently recover from the disruptions. Nine drivers of resilience were identified, such as political risk, exposure to natural hazards and commitment to risk management, with the drivers then being aggregated into three broad factorseconomic, risk quality and supply chain. Overall, Switzerland came out on top, while Venezuelafaced with high levels of corruption and exposure to natural hazardswas ranked last.

Pacific islands disappear due to sea-level rise

Five Pacific islands have been completely submerged due to the effects of sea-level rise, a new Australian study (PDF) has found. The paper, published in Environmental Research Letters on 6 May, confirmed the six uninhabited islandswhich ranged in size from one to five hectareswere part of the Solomon Islands. Notably, six other islands saw dramatic reductions in their coastlines, with large areas of land and a number of villages swept away by rising sea levels. To establish their findings, scientists studied aerial images of the islands from 1947 onwards and conducted radiocarbon dating of the area.