National security wrap

The beat

Demands to reform US policing

Minneapolis City Council’s decision todismantle’ its policing system has provided momentum to the ‘defund the police’ movement in the United States. Proponents advocate major changes to policing methods and the adoption of community-based approaches. Police funding would be reallocated to social and health services, coupled with community-led policing or community assistance programs. Such systems are already in place in some parts of Australia, either as a complement to traditional policing or, in some remote areas, as the only form of law enforcement.

Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians treated differently

Data from the NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research reveals that Indigenous Australians are far more likely to end up in court over low-level drug offences than other Australians. Non-Indigenous Australians are four times more likely to be let off with a warning for similar offences. This difference in treatment has also been found with offences such as driving without a licence and driving an unregistered vehicle. Experts say these instances aren’t isolated and are indicative of systemic racism in the criminal justice system.

CT scan

‘ISIS bride’ challenges Australian citizenship law in High Court

Zehra Duman, who was stripped of her Australian citizenship for alleged ties with the Islamic State terror group in 2016, has lodged a High Court challenge to the decision from Syria. Duman, who was born in Australia and also has Turkish citizenship, claims legislation that allows for the removal of Australian citizenship from dual nationals does not apply to her. She is believed to have become Australia’s first ‘ISIS bride’ when she travelled to Syria to marry Melbourne man Mahmoud Abdullatif in 2014. The Australian Independent National Security Legislation Monitor has warned that such laws fail to protect human rights and may breach international law.

‘Miss Hitler’ contestant among four far-right extremists jailed

Four Britons, including a young woman who entered an anti-Semitic ‘Miss Hitler’ beauty pageant, have been jailed for being active members of the far-right terrorist group National Action. It was the first far-right group to be banned as a terrorist organisation in the United Kingdom after it celebrated the politically motivated killing of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016.


US rejects Beijing’s claims in South China Sea

The US has written to the UN secretary-general supporting Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia over their maritime claims in the South China Sea. China has rejected both a recent Malaysian submission and a joint Vietnamese–Malaysian submission seeking to extend their exclusive economic zones based on the continental shelf. The US letter also urges China to comply with an international tribunal’s 2016 decision and to cease its ‘provocative activities’ in the region.

Flare-up on Ethiopia–Sudan border

Attacks on Sudanese troops have escalated tensions along the border between Ethiopia and Sudan. Ethiopian farmers were historically allowed to plant crops in Sudan’s al-Fashqa region, but the new Sudanese transitional authority has deployed troops to the region and sought a deal with Ethiopia that would see the farmers leave the area. It appears that Sudanese security forces were responding to incursions by Ethiopian farmers when the clashes occurred.

First responder

Democrats propose pandemic response fund for US defence bill

Democrats in the US House of Representatives want to allocate US$1 billion to strengthen the Defense Department’s ability to buy or manufacture vital medical supplies in a crisis. The US National Defense Authorization Act 2021 is scheduled to be considered by a congressional committee on 23 June, and the Democrats will include a pandemic response fund in their proposal. Clashes between Democrats and Republicans over the administration’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic continue.

Brazil reopens despite high Covid-19 death toll

Brazil has started allowing businesses to reopen and is easing isolation measures in big cities, despite the country having the second highest number of Covid-19 cases and third highest number of deaths worldwide. Experts are worried that opening up will worsen the situation, which is already exacerbated by Brazil’s high levels of poverty and inequality, limited access to healthcare and overcrowding. Meanwhile, President Jair Bolsonaro’s decision to stop publishing coronavirus-related data has been overturned in the courts.