Control Orders as a constitution of bodies and the state

Miss Helena Gallacher1
1The University Of Melbourne, Carlton, Australia

Prior to the events of September 11, Australia had no national counter-terror legislation or framework and related offences were dealt with under the ordinary Criminal Code. Following those events, there have been over 44 counter-terror laws passed in Australia. There has been a significant shift in the public imagination and national counter-terror rhetoric. But the mechanism which has allowed the suspension of law, as well as civil and human rights remains firmly in place. My work examines the control order, a counter-terror measure introduced in Australia shortly after the London bombings. Control orders are hybrid orders, meaning they are civil court orders which attract criminal punishment. They can be applied to a person who has trained with a terrorist organisation, engaged in hostile activity in a foreign country or if the order substantially helps prevent a terrorist attack. A control order can be enforced on a person as young as 14, restricting travel, imposing curfews, requiring the individual to submit to drug and alcohol testing. My research draws on the work of theorist Giorgio Agamben, who developed his own work on the state of exception. Agamben’s broad contention is that the law operates both inside and outside the juridical form, thereby creating bodies who occupy a space both inside and outside of law. This forms a symmetry which ultimately condemns select bodies to the reduced ‘bare life’. Control orders can be imagined as a ritual which renders the body human by virtue of its regulation.


Helena Gallacher: student in Honours of Criminology at the University of Melbourne.


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