Charting War on Terrorism

Amnesty International

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 Eastern origin.


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 security."

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.

Israel/Occupied Territories

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 silent."


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 been fired.


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 without trial.


"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 terrorism."


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.

New Zealand

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 parties.


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.

South Africa

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.

South Korea

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 procedure.


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 trial.


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 light.

European Union

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 peaceful activities.

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 Times.

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