Government Wants Laws to Allow Thorough Checks of Foreign Fighters Before They Return to Australia

By AAP

Reports that many foreign fighters have returned to Australia emphasises the need for parliament to pass legislation to temporarily prevent such dual-citizens heading home from war zones, a federal cabinet minister says, as Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton prepares to push through the legislation in Parliament this week.

News Corp newspapers reported 40 Australians who joined ISIS and other extremist groups fighting in Syria and Iraq are now back home.

It says federal government authorities believe some of the fighters, who are among 230 Australians who have travelled to the war zone since 2012, pose a “significant” security concern.

“I think it is important that we proceed to the temporary exclusion orders,” Industry and Science Minister Karen Andrews told Sky News on Sunday.

Dutton says the temporary exclusion order would allow the government extra time to investigate individuals and access how, if, and when they should return to this country.

He will be looking to pass the temporary ban on dual-citizen foreign fighters from returning to Australia during the next sitting fortnight.

“Our number priority as a government, and it’s a number one priority for every government, is to keep its citizens safe,” Andrews said on Sunday.

The temporary exclusion order modelled on legislation from the United Kingdom would be valid for up-to two years, with the possibility for extension.

Earlier this year, U.S. President Donald Trump called on European allies to repatriate and prosecute the hundreds of ISIS terrorists that had been captured by the United States and its allies in Syria.

“The United States is asking Britain, France, Germany, and other European allies to take back over 800 ISIS fighters that we captured in Syria and put them on trial. The Caliphate is ready to fall. The alternative is not a good one in that we will be forced to release them,” Trump wrote on Twitter in February.

After some initial resistance, Euronews reported this month that some European governments are starting to reconsider repatriating their citizens after encouragement from the United States.

By Colin Brinsden. With additional reporting by NTD News staff writers.