National security wrap

The beat

UK backs Taiwan’s participation in Interpol

The UK Foreign Office has expressed support for Taiwan participating in Interpol as an observer. Taiwan was replaced in the international policing organisation by the People’s Republic of China in 1984, and Taipei has since sought diplomatic support to be reinstated. There’s no requirement for nationhood to participate in Interpol. Taiwan has worked closely with South Korea and the Philippines to police transnational crime in the region, but doesn’t have direct access to Interpol’s resources or databases.

NSW police officer under investigation

A New South Wales police officer is under investigation over the arrest of an Indigenous teenager. A video has emerged showing the officer tripping the 17-year-old and then pinning him to the ground in Sydney. NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller said he was concerned about the officer’s actions but indicated that he had a good record and suggested that he ‘had a bad day’. Nearly 30% of prisoners in Australian jails are Indigenous even though they make up only around 3% of the population.

CT scan

ASIO pushes to lower minimum age for terror interrogations

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation has defended its push to lower the minimum age at which children may be questioned on terrorism matters from 16 to 14. The agency says the measure is crucial to enable it to confront threats posed by children who may be radicalised. Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton said authorities had already disrupted plans for attacks by younger people. Some legal advocates say the amendment is ‘highly intrusive’ and could expose young Australians to interrogation without sufficient safeguards.

Concerns over Duterte counterterrorism law

The Philippine Congress has passed legislation that gives President Rodrigo Duterte sweeping counterterrorism powers. The new law allows warrantless arrests and detention without charge for up to 14 days as well as the creation of an ‘anti-terror council’. The opposition and rights groups have argued that is could be used to curb free speech and detain political dissidents.


Pandemic disproportionately affects migrants and refugees

The United Nations has issued a policy brief highlighting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on displaced and stateless people. It says existing vulnerabilities are heightened by lack of access to medical care, work and physical protection. The brief sets out a plan to make life safer for those forced from their homes into dangerous situations. The organisation’s assistant high commissioner for protection, Gillian Triggs, says responding to Covid-19 and protecting human rights are not mutually exclusive obligations.

Shots fired on Kyrgyzstan–Tajikistan border

Guards on both sides of the Kyrgyzstan–Tajikistan border have been shot at in recent incidents, according to local media. Disputes over farmland along the border have increased during the past 10 years. Officials agreed to a land swap in January, but there’s doubt that people will abide by the agreement. The two governments have so far left responsibility for resolving the conflicts to local officials.

First responder

Swedish health official regrets about limited lockdown

After more than 4,500 deaths and 40,000 confirmed cases of Covid-19, Sweden’s top epidemiologist, Anders Tegnell, has admitted that his advice to the government that it should minimise lockdowns was the wrong approach. Swedes were supportive of the lighter restrictions, but the approach was questioned in other nations. Most other countries implemented stricter measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

Covid-19 set to change disaster responses

As nations find themselves having to manage a global pandemic while responding to other emergencies, it’s been argued that more tools are needed for governments to address issues such as law enforcement, disaster relief and humanitarian assistance during crises. Mechanisms governments can use include initiatives like the Global Maritime Operational Threat Response Coordination Center, regional response teams similar to the African Leadership Centre, cooperation agreements, and general global guidance for states to maintain law enforcement and be better prepared for the next emergency.