The Australian government has bent to public pressure by proposing a specific prohibition on secret service officers torturing suspected terrorists.
The government had planned to indemnify Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) against all criminal offences committed in the course of their undercover work except for murder, causing serious injury, sexual assault and serious damage to property.
But attorney general George Brandis announced today that torture would be added to the list, after the opposition and other critics complained that ASIO officers should not be protected from legal liability for torturing suspects.
Mr Brandis says because torture is against Australian law, no operation involving torture could ever be authorised.
ASIO’s secretary-general Duncan Lewis says torture is contrary to Australia’s international obligations and his organisation had never tortured suspects.