As a law firm committed to promoting knowledge and contributing to legal scholarship, Birchgrove Legal and its team regularly contribute to the national and legal conversations through considered writing and commentary.

We’re excited to share that one of our team’s solicitors, Rita Jabri Markwell, has recently published a paper in the International Journal on Crime, Justice and Social Democracy.

The paper addresses important issues in the field of criminal justice and offers insightful analysis and recommendations.

Religion as a Motive – Does Australian Terrorism Law Serve Justice?

The paper examines whether the category of religiously motivated terrorism serves justice in Australia, considering its lawfulness from a human rights perspective and examining its operation in the courtroom in two cases adjudicated by Justice Fagan.

This paper finds that efforts to establish a ‘religious cause’ were stifled by complexity and ambiguity about the difference between Islamic adherence and violent extremism. Bias prone assumptions had observable implications for the judicial assessment of the defendant’s culpability and rehabilitation prospects. 

The paper concludes that judicial education could help. Still, those measures would not fix the core of the problem. By removing the motive element, the issues would be avoided while focusing attention on the remaining intention elements. An alternative option is to remove ‘religious cause’ so that terrorism cases must demonstrate ‘ideological or political cause’, encouraging more precise and comparable reasoning across offending contexts.

Download the paper in full

The paper is a significant contribution to the legal discourse on this issue. We believe all legal professionals will benefit from our research and analysis, and encourage the community to engage with the paper.

It can read in full by downloading here.