Charting War on Terrorism
Amnesty NOW magazine, Summer 2002
Antiterrorism legislation before the Federal Parliament includes
proposals to allow the attorney general to proscribe certain groups
and reduce rights for suspects in custody. Stricter asylum legislation
was expedited after 9/ll.
In October a Vienna court ordered the extradition of an Egyptian
asylum-seeker at serious risk of torture if repatriated. The Austrian
Supreme Court had refused his extradition in 1999.
A law passed in December permits search of homes and offices
without prior judicial authority. It allows the head of an antiterrorist
operation to regulate media activities near such operations.
The government extradited six Algerians to the U.S., defying
a ruling from Bosnia's Human Rights Chamber. Troops from the international
Stabilization Force reportedly detained incommunicado men of Middle
The December antiterrorism act improved on earlier drafts,
but risks of criminalizing peaceful activity and of unfair trials
remain. Another new law hinders asylum applications. On April
z9 the government presented a bill on public safety under which
the armed forces could declare "controlled access zones"
wherever military equipment is kept.
After 9/11 Beijing intensified its crackdown on Uighur opponents
of Chinese rule in Xinjiang, claiming they are linked to "international
terrorism." Officials have reportedly detained thousands
and placed new restrictions on the religious rights of Muslims.
On December 29 China amended its criminal law to "punish
terrorist crimes, ensure national security and uphold social order."
In February President Andres Pastrana resumed the
civil war in which all sides have committed atrocities. He
announced that rebels would be treated as terrorists "[a]nd
in that, the world supports us." The Constitutional Court
ruled as unconstitutional an August national security law that
would have strengthened impunity by giving police and judicial
powers to armed forces in conflict zones. Candidates in the May
z6 presidential election proposed further measures, and new security
legislation is likely.
An expanded antiterrorism law passed on December 20 reaffirmed
the death penalty in the most extreme
Under a proposed amendment to the penal code, lawyers and
counselors of suspects risk being seen as assisting terrorism.
Proposed amendments to the Aliens Act would permit refusal of
residence permits on grounds not only of state security but also
of public order, security, and health.
Since 9/11 more civilians have been referred to military courts
that violate fundamental requirements of international law and
standards for fair trial. Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Abeid said,
"After these horrible crimes committed in New York and Virginia,
maybe Western countries should begin to think of Egypt's own fight
against terror as their new model."
Two Islamic radicals were deported to Algeria, where they
may face severe abuse. The October Law on Everyday Security strengthens
government search and surveillance powers.
New legislation expands grounds for rejecting asylum claims
and enables banning groups that "support organizations in
or out of Germany that cause, threaten or practice assaults against
persons or things or if they are a danger to public order and
Greece Denial of access to asylum procedures.
After 9/11, Afghan asylum seekers were removed from open reception
centers to special high security detention facilities.
The March Prevention of Terrorism Act allows police to hold
suspects for three months without charge- and for three additional
months with approval from a special court. It contradicts the
Indian Evidence Act by making confessions to a police officer
admissible at trial. It also criminalizes journalists or other
professionals for meeting with any member of a "terrorist
organization," whatever the purpose.
The Minister of Justice and Human Rights announced that a
proposed antiterrorism bill to be submitted to the House of Representatives
includes sentences that range from five years to death for disrupting
security and damaging public facilities.
After 9/11, Israeli forces stepped up military operations
in the Occupied Territories. On Sept. 14 Defense Minister Binyamin
Ben Elizier said, " It is a fact that we have killed 14 Palestinians
in Jenin, Kabatyeh and Tammum, with the world remaining absolutely
A planned reform of the security services includes authorization
for agents to break the law during operations authorized for reasons
of state security by the head of government.
Amendments to the penal code in October expanded "terrorism"
to include damaging the environment; public, private, or international
organizations; or diplomatic missions. The amendments also strengthened
powers to shut any publication deemed to have published false
or libelous information that could "undermine national unity
or the country's reputation."
Kazakstan expelled more than l,000 Tajik and Kyrgyz migrants
after September 11. Local human rights monitors are concerned
that many deportees had no access to due process.
Authorities, citing security reasons, stepped up efforts to
deport undocumented residents. As of October z, they had expelled
300 people, mostly Tajiks and Afghans. Some had been living in
Kyrgyzstan for 20 years or more; some were refugees from the Tajik
civil war of the 1990S.
The Interior Ministry announced that seven men of South Asian
appearance killed by the Macedonian police on March z were Pakistani
Islamists who died in a shootout. The ministry offered no conclusive
evidence for its claims that the men were planning attacks on
Western embassies and were linked to local Albanian organizations.
Other government sources told reporters that no police were injured
in the incident, no cartridges or bullets were found at the site,
and the weapons allegedly seized there showed no sign of having
Since September 2001 the Internal Security Act of 1960 has
been used to detain at least 40 Malaysians accused of links to
"international terrorism." The act allows detention
"Acts of terrorism" as defined in new legislation
may be interpreted to undermine fundamental rights. The law also
allows authorities to deny asylum to those suspected of "international
After the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) withdrew from
peace talks with the government and attacked police and army posts
in November, the government declared a state of emergency and
promulgated the Terrorism and Disruptive Activities Ordinance.
Dozens of people, including lawyers, students, teachers, and journalists
have been arrested under the law, which allows preventive detention
for up to go days, or 180 days with Home Ministry approval.
Local human rights organizations are concerned that the draft
antiterrorism bill could criminalize legitimate protest, designate
people as terrorists without a trial, and give the authorities
more power to spy on citizens.
The January Antiterrorism Amendment Ordinance will undermine
judicial independence by bringing military officers onto panels
of judges trying "terrorist" offenses. These antiterrorist
courts impose most of Pakistan's death sentences. Since 9/11 the
government has attempted to suppress demonstrations by religious
Human rights groups report indiscriminate mass arrests and
torture of suspected members of and sympathizers with the Abu
Sayyaf Group, which allegedly has links to Al Qaeda. After an
April 21 bombing killed 15 people, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
asked Congress to pass the pending antiterrorism bill.
Currently, foreign "terrorist" suspects are detained
indefinitely under old immigration law.
Officials cited the global fight against "terrorism"
to counter criticism of summary executions, torture, and arbitrary
arrests in Chechnya. Since 9/11 at least one person a week has
disappeared in Chechnya after arrest by Russian forces.
Thirteen suspected Islamic militants received two-year detention
orders under the Internal Security Act, which allows detention
without charge or trial.
The draft antiterrorism bill could criminalize strikes and
attempts by non-violent demonstrators to deliver a petition to
a foreign embassy. The bill also provides for detention without
trial and for wider police powers to search vehicles.
The Terrorism Prevention Bill would extend the death penalty
to leaders of a "terrorist organization." It could also
deny asylum-seekers a fair and satisfactory appeals procedure.
A government-proposed law regulating political activism could
ban political parties that encourage "hatred, violence, and
social confrontation"; challenge the legitimacy of democratic
institutions; or "promote a culture of civil confrontation."
The law is aimed at Batasuna, the political wing of the Basque
separatist movement, ETA.
Two Egyptian asylum-seekers were forcibly returned to Egypt
in December 2001 after their claims were rejected in an unfair
In March Thai police detained 25 foreigners at the request
of U.S. agencies. A senior police officer said the U.S. had requested
more arrests as part of a joint operation against "international
terrorism." Initial investigations showed the 25 detaineees
had no connection to "terrorist networks."
The March Antiterrorism Act introduces a mandatory death sentence
for convicted terrorists. Publishing news "likely to promote
terrorism" can lead to a 10 year prison sentence.
The Antiterrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 permits indefinite
detention of non-UK nationals without charge or trial if the home
secretary reasonably believes and suspects they are a national
security risk and an "international terrorist." The
belief and suspicion may be based on secret evidence.
More than l,000 people, most from Middle Eastern or Muslim
countries, were arrested after 9/11; some 300 may remain in detention.
The October USA PATRIOT Act allows indefinite detention of non-deportable,
non-U.S. citizens if the attorney general has "reasonable
grounds to believe" they are engaged in terrorist activities
or endanger national security. On
November Is President George Bush issued a Military Order
that non-U.S. nationals accused of terrorism could be tried by
military commissions; this order infringes on rights to a fair
The government is justifying its crackdown on peaceful Muslims
under a campaign against the armed opposition Islamic Movement
of Uzbekistan. In late September nine suspected members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir,
an Islamist group not implicated in violent acts, were sentenced
to long prison terms. Human rights observers said that one of
the charges-"having links to Osama bin Laden"-was not
backed by convincing evidence at the trial.
Following 9/11 the government carried out widespread arrests
of members of Islamist organizations and anyone who had aroused
official suspicion, including a man alleged to be Osama bin Laden's
father-in-law. The government also closed down some Islamic educational
institutions and deported foreign students.
In the run-up to the March presidential elections, President
Robert Mugabe labeled his opponents "terrorists," thus
appearing to condone violent attacks by his supporters on his
political opponents. The January Public Order Security Act allows
police to ban demonstrations and criminalizes criticism of the
police, army, and president. A new Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act allows the government to ban newspapers and imprison
journalists for articles that portray the government in a negative
A proposed comprehensive action plan, dubbed an "antiterrorism
road map," envisages legislation on a European arrest warrant,
an EU-wide definition of terrorism, an EU public prosecutions
agency, an EU mechanism for freezing suspects' assets, examination
of immigration and asylum laws, and a mechanism to prosecute computer
crime. The definition of terrorism is broad enough to criminalize
The Arab League
In January Arab Ministers of the Interior agreed on measures
to "combat terrorism" and pledged to implement the Arab
Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism. It defines "terrorism"
so broadly that it is open to abuse. It widens the scope of the
death penalty in many countries. n
Sources: organizations: Amnesty International, Center for
Middle East Peace and Economic Co-operation, FIDH, Human Rights
Watch, International Federation of Journalists, New Zealand Human
Rights Commission, Philrights, Reporters Without Borders, Statewatch,
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. Media sources:
AFP, Africa News, Balkan Reconstruction Report, BBC, Canadian
Corporate Newswire, Canwest Interactive, Christchurch Press, El
Colombiano, EFE, Eurasia Insight, Financial Times, Guardian, Jakarta
Post, Kyodo, Middle East International, Philippine Daily Inquirer,
Reuters, The Star (Jordan), Toronto Star, Washington Post, Yemen
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