n Tydskrif vir die Suid-Afrikaanse Reg - Agenda vir 'n dringende vergadering op die dorpsplein : 'n kritiese analise van die definisie van terrorisme (slot)

Volume 2005, Issue 3
  • ISSN : 0257-7747
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2207



This article explores the notion of terrorism. It starts by considering an appropriate definition. Most people think they know exactly what is meant by the term terrorism. A critical analysis of the term shows a lot of fuzziness and contradictions about what exactly constitutes terrorism. Proposing countermeasures to terrorism has become a national pastime since hijackings, bombings, and hostage crises became regular features of the daily news. Despite a high public awareness of the threat, there is no wide consensus of what terrorism actually is. The term has no widely accepted or precise definition. The problem of a suitable definition is compounded by the fact that has become a fad word. The term is generally pejorative. As a result, one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter. This article refers to contemporary definitions and determines that they are inadequate. The author avers to various problems with current definitions and offers an appropriate scholarly remedy in terms of which no absolute definition is formulated, but the framework for an objective description of terrorism is explained. The article argues that an appropriate description of terrorism should include an unambiguous standard - in doing so the author rejects the notion that there can be no objective description of terrorism and / or no universal standards of conduct. The term is best defined by the quality of the act, and not by the identity of the perpetrators or the nature of their cause - only then will the description prove flexible enough to respond to the changing nature of the terrorist threat. Without a general consensus of what terrorism is, the task of organising government and even private resources to combat terrorism, is intimidating and almost impossible. It is against this background that the author considers the South African law commission's report on the review of security legislation , the proposed anti-terrorism bill of 2002 and the Protection of Constitutional Democracy Against Terrorist and Related Activities Act 33 of 2004.

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