n African Human Rights Law Journal - Counter-terrorism legislation and the protection of human rights : a survey of selected international practice

Volume 7, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1609-073X
  • E-ISSN: 1996-2096



The 11 September 2001 attacks in the USA have recast global attention on terrorism. Following the attacks, a number of governments around the world rushed to enact legislation against terrorism while others have either introduced or have been constrained to introduce anti-terrorist legislation by the USA and its ally, the UK - as part of their 'either you are with us or you are against us' global anti-terrorism campaign. Others have resurrected draconian colonial anti-terrorism legislative measures. Almost invariably, these laws have greatly impinged upon or have serious implications for human rights and freedoms, and for the fundamental principles of humanity. This article provides an overview of the range, and human rights implications of anti-terrorism legislative measures adopted in selected countries in different geo-political regions of the world since 11 September. The article considers these measures in the light of the fundamental principles of humanity as reflected in the Turku Declaration. It is argued that each state should have, in co-operation with others and in accordance with the dictates of international law, the liberty to adopt counter-terrorism legislation that not only is consonant with its local circumstances, but also helps it meet its obligations under international law, including the primary obligation to protect the rights of all people without discrimination of any kind. Significantly, there is a need for the international community to deal with the problem of terrorism in a holistic manner that ensures that, in their quest to effectively deal with the terrorist threat, states do not erode the rights of all persons subject to their jurisdiction.

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