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HUMAN RIGHTS UNDER ANTI-TERRORISM LAWS

Irrespective of where it happens, terrorism has a tremendous human cost and a direct impact on human rights. In addition to directly affecting the human rights of individuals, terrorism also violates human rights indirectly by destabilising governments, sabotaging the functioning of a civil society, and threatening peace and security, and social and economic development. Security of an individual is a basic human right, the protection of which is the fundamental obligation of a government. Every nation therefore has a positive obligation to ensure the protection of human rights of its citizens and others, which includes protecting them against the threat of terrorist acts and bringing the perpetrators of such acts to justice.

Recently, however, human rights and the rule of law have been endangered by the State measures to counter terrorism themselves. For instance, States send suspected terrorists to other States where the possibility of torture or other human rights abuse is more imminent. Such practices are in clear violation of international legal obligations. Further, Judiciary has been made ineffective, and voices of human rights defenders have been repressed. Taken together, these practices have a corrosive effect on the rule of law, good governance and human rights. Also, contrary to their aims, they hinder a nation’s efforts to combat terrorism.

Thus, to win the fight against terrorism, it must be backed by a respect for human rights and the rule of law. This can be done by developing national strategies to counter terrorism, and promoting and protecting human rights and the rule of law. It also implies adoption of measures to address conditions like ethnic or religious discrimination, political exclusion, or other measures which might prove instrumental in promoting terrorism. Further, human rights violations need to be strictly condemned and prohibited under national laws, with adequate provisions for investigations against and prosecution of perpetrators of such violations. Lastly, adequate attention needs to be given to the rights of victims of human rights violations, through restitution or compensation.

This Paper aims to strengthen the understanding of the relationship between human rights and terrorism. It identifies certain particular Human Rights challenges raised in the context of Terrorism and Anti-Terrorism Laws, and how these laws have misused in the past to violate Human Rights. It also highlights the international framework to combat Terrorism and the international framework for Human Rights. Lastly, it studies these issues in the Indian context, and suggests some principles and standards which may be adopted to counter terrorism and protect human rights at the same time.

HYPOTHESIS

  1. Terrorism constitutes a serious threat to Human Rights
  2. Anti-Terrorism Legislations are misused to violate Freedom of Expression
  3. Anti-Terrorism Laws shape Human Rights concepts

PLAN OF STUDY

The Study shall be tentatively chapterised as follows:

  1. Introduction
    • What are Human Rights
    • What is Terrorism
  2. Human Rights Issues for Counter-Terrorism Strategies
    • Specific Issues
      • Right to Life
      • Absolute Prohibition against Torture
      • Transfer of Suspected Terrorists
      • Liberty and Security of an Individual
      • Equality before Law and Protection from Discrimination
      • Right to a Fair Trial
      • Prohibition of Incitement to Terrorism under Freedom of Expression
      • Freedom of Association
      • Right to Privacy
    • Abuse of Anti-Terrorism Laws [This sub-Chapter shall dal with instances of misuse of Anti-Terrorism laws across the Globe]
    • Human Rights in State of Emergency
  3. An Overview of the International Framework
    • International Framework to Combat Terrorism
    • International Framework to Promote Human Rights
  4. The Indian Context
    • Indian Anti-Terrorism Law: The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002 (POTA)
    • Human Rights Concerns in the Administration of POTA
    • POTA in Courts
  5. Conclusion and Suggestions [This Chapter shall be an attempt to list suggestions to counter misuse anti-terrorism laws]

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Irrespective of where it happens, terrorism has a tremendous human cost and a direct impact on human rights. In addition to directly affecting the human rights of individuals, terrorism also violates human rights indirectly by destabilising governments, sabotaging the functioning of a civil society, and threatening peace and security, and social and economic development. Security of an individual is a basic human right, the protection of which is the fundamental obligation of a government. Every nation therefore has a positive obligation to ensure the protection of human rights of its citizens and others, which includes protecting them against the threat of terrorist acts and bringing the perpetrators of such acts to justice.

Recently, however, human rights and the rule of law have been endangered by the State measures to counter terrorism themselves. For instance, States send suspected terrorists to other States where the possibility of torture or other human rights abuse is more imminent. Such practices are in clear violation of international legal obligations. Further, Judiciary has been made ineffective, and voices of human rights defenders have been repressed. Taken together, these practices have a corrosive effect on the rule of law, good governance and human rights. Also, contrary to their aims, they hinder a nation’s efforts to combat terrorism.

Thus, to win the fight against terrorism, it must be backed by a respect for human rights and the rule of law. This can be done by developing national strategies to counter terrorism, and promoting and protecting human rights and the rule of law. It also implies adoption of measures to address conditions like ethnic or religious discrimination, political exclusion, or other measures which might prove instrumental in promoting terrorism. Further, human rights violations need to be strictly condemned and prohibited under national laws, with adequate provisions for investigations against and prosecution of perpetrators of such violations. Lastly, adequate attention needs to be given to the rights of victims of human rights violations, through restitution or compensation.

This Paper aims to strengthen the understanding of the relationship between human rights and terrorism. It identifies certain particular Human Rights challenges raised in the context of Terrorism and Anti-Terrorism Laws, and how these laws have misused in the past to violate Human Rights. It also highlights the international framework to combat Terrorism and the international framework for Human Rights. Lastly, it studies these issues in the Indian context, and suggests some principles and standards which may be adopted to counter terrorism and protect human rights at the same time.

HYPOTHESIS

  1. Terrorism constitutes a serious threat to Human Rights
  2. Anti-Terrorism Legislations are misused to violate Freedom of Expression
  3. Anti-Terrorism Laws shape Human Rights concepts

PLAN OF STUDY

The Study shall be tentatively chapterised as follows:

  1. Introduction
    • What are Human Rights
    • What is Terrorism
  2. Human Rights Issues for Counter-Terrorism Strategies
    • Specific Issues
      • Right to Life
      • Absolute Prohibition against Torture
      • Transfer of Suspected Terrorists
      • Liberty and Security of an Individual
      • Equality before Law and Protection from Discrimination
      • Right to a Fair Trial
      • Prohibition of Incitement to Terrorism under Freedom of Expression
      • Freedom of Association
      • Right to Privacy
    • Abuse of Anti-Terrorism Laws [This sub-Chapter shall dal with instances of misuse of Anti-Terrorism laws across the Globe]
    • Human Rights in State of Emergency
  3. An Overview of the International Framework
    • International Framework to Combat Terrorism
    • International Framework to Promote Human Rights
  4. The Indian Context
    • Indian Anti-Terrorism Law: The Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002 (POTA)
    • Human Rights Concerns in the Administration of POTA
    • POTA in Courts
  5. Conclusion and Suggestions [This Chapter shall be an attempt to list suggestions to counter misuse anti-terrorism laws]

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