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New Bangladesh terror law faces flak

Vicky Nanjappa | July 01, 2008 02:24 IST

Even as Bangladesh introduced its new counter-terrorism ordinance in a bid to curb terror, it has already come in for flak with Human Rights activists demanding that the ordinance be repealed or amended as per international standards.

The new ordinance, according to Human Rights Watch, was kept a secret by the government thus preventing any sort of public debate.

The ordinance, according to HRW, sets out an overly broad definition of terrorist acts, including mere property crimes as well as attacks targeting individuals, contrary to United Nations recommendations.

It criminalizes speech meant to support or 'bolster the activities of' a banned organization without showing that such statements constitute incitement of criminal conduct. The new law also allows convictions for financing terrorism based on mere suspicion of criminal conduct, violating the basic criminal law requirement of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Brad Adams, Asia director of the HRW, feels that bad counter terror laws drafted in secret lead to abuses and a loss of public support for legitimate counter terror efforts.

What the new law states:

  • The law provides that a person may be held criminally liable for financing terrorism if that person is involved in financial transactions for which there is merely a 'reasonable suspicion' that the money will be used to fund a terrorist act.
  • The law allows an organisation to be banned as terrorist because it has 'co-operated' with another organisation deemed to be a terrorist outfit. Moreover, the government may ban an organization as terrorist based simply on 'reasonable allegations' of involvement in terrorist related activities.
  • The law criminalizes speech meant to support or 'bolster the activities of' a banned organization, without any showing that such statements constitute incitement of criminal conduct.
  • The law allows the imposition of the death penalty for certain offences, which several rights activists have been opposing.





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