Opinion: Shoot-to-kill legislation has no place in our society

On Thursday, June 8 the NSW government pledged to introduce strengthened shoot-to-kill legislation for terrorism incidents. 

This pledge came after the recommendations from the Lindt Cafe coronal inquiry, which heard that snipers hesitated when they thought they had a clear shot of Man Haron Monis, partially because they did not have the legal justification to shoot him. 

This could have potentially saved the lives of Tori Johnson and Katrina Dawson. 

I truly do understand that both of the victims families want some form of justice for what they have endured.

But shoot-to-kill laws are not the answer.

Man Haron Monis was on bail when he committed the Lindt Cafe atrocity.

There has been huge criticism by the NSW public of the current NSW bail laws.

Yet in 2013, an amendment to the Bail Act saw the number of unsentenced prisoners held on remand increase by 22 per cent from 2015 to 2016. This follows a 21 per cent increase from 2014 to 2015.

We are already holding more people than ever on remand, even though we live in a society where you are deemed innocent until proven guilty.

Do we really now need to give the police strengthened shoot-to-kill powers? 

You can look at the Lindt Cafe siege which left two people dead, you can look at Yacqub Khayre who recently terrorised Brighton in Melbourne, leaving one person dead. 

In 2015 at the NSW Police headquarters in Parramatta, 15-year-old Farhad Khalil Mohammad Jabar shot dead Curtis Cheng. 

But can you honestly tell me that the actions of three people is justification for shoot-to-kill legislation?

An expanded roll out of rapid-fire, high-powered weapons for NSW Police officers will see the police commissioner able to trigger a shoot-to-kill directive during terrorism incidents. 

But what’s to say they won’t accidentally shoot a hostage or someone who gets in the way. How much power will we give police until a child playing with a water pistol is shot? 

If you do not want to give in to terrorism, do not give in to shoot-to-kill legislation. 

If our society truly wants a system of guilty until proven innocent, then for sure, implement the shoot-to-kill laws. 

And while you’re at it – why not bring back capital punishment. 

  • Mikaela Mahony is a reporter with Fairfax Media in north-west Sydney.