The hasty enactment of the bill reveals the present government’s completely wrong priorities amidst a global pandemic, and its excessive inclination to repress civil and political freedoms.
The proposed law is plainly void because it adopts a concept of “terrorism” that lacks clearly defined threshold criteria. It perilously blurs the difference between “ordinary” crimes and “terrorist acts.” Lacking definitive standards, it opens itself to pervasive misinterpretation and rampant misuse when applied against ordinary citizens and targeted government critics.
Worse, the proposed law emboldens intelligence and law enforcement officers to circumvent privacy protection and human rights safeguards. It justifies loosely-controlled intrusive acts, allows unbridled fishing expedition for evidence, abuses confidentiality of intelligence gathering, restricts effective and independent scrutiny process, and infringes on individual protection and remedies.
CenterLaw is also deeply troubled by the grant of extraordinary powers to the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) bereft of a stringent framework of accountability and unbiased oversight. The ATC’s arrest and detention powers brazenly usurp judicial functions and its designation power dangerously legitimize terrorist-tagging on mere probable cause. Deeply troubling too is the provision allowing arrests of persons on mere suspicions entertained by ATC members who are beholden alter egos of a sitting president.
This draconian proposal, if approved, can lead to weaponization of the law and can result in perilously terrorizing the people. It will stifle and deter legitimate advocacy, protest, and redress of grievances against the government. It will threaten the life, liberty and security of persons exercising their guaranteed rights and freedoms.
CenterLaw vehemently stands against the approval of the Anti-Terror Bill. We call on Congress to withdraw the bill and for the President to #JunkTerrorBillNow.
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