The Council of the European Union proposes a wider definition of "terrorism" and extends it to those who aim to "seriously.. affect..an international organisation"



The Council of the European Union (representing the 15 EU governments) has put forward a different definition of "terrorism" to that put forward in the European Commission's proposal (see original proposal). The most significant change is to change the word "altering" to "affecting" which would broaden its scope. So, for example, where the Commission's definition reads that a "terrorist offence" would include actions seeking to:

"seriously altering or destroying the political, economic or social structures of a country"

The Council's definition would include actions:

"with the aim of seriously... affecting or destroying the political, economic or social structures of a country or of an international organisation"

The Council's version thus not only widens the definition of "terrorism" to action which might "affect" political, economic and social structures but, ominously adds actions seeking to seriously "affect" an "international organisation". Such a broad definition would clearly embrace protests such as those in Gothenburg and Genoa.

Other differences

The Council's definition, under point (f) below does slightly narrow the contentious "terrorist" offence of "seizure of or serious damage to state or government facilities, means of public transport.., places of public use and property" by adding the word "serious" - however, this does not remove the concern that this could be used against protests and non-violent actions.

TEXT of the European Commission draft definition of terrorism (doc ref: COM(2001) 521 final, 19.9.01)

Article 3 – Terrorist Offences

1. Each Member State shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the following offences, defined according to its national law, which are intentionally committed by an individual or a group against one or more countries, their institutions or people with the aim of intimidating them and seriously altering or destroying the political, economic, or social structures of a country, will be punishable as terrorist offences:

(a) Murder;
(b) Bodily injuries;
(c) Kidnapping or hostage taking;
(d) Extortion;
(e) Theft or robbery;
(f) Unlawful seizure of or damage to state or government facilities, means of public transport, infrastructure facilities, places of public use, and property;
(g) Fabrication, possession, acquisition, transport or supply of weapons or explosives;
(h) Releasing contaminating substances, or causing fires, explosions or floods, endangering people, property, animals or the environment;
(i) Interfering with or disrupting the supply of water, power, or other fundamental resource;
(j) Attacks through interference with an information system;
(k) Threatening to commit any of the offences listed above;
(l) Directing a terrorist group;
(m) Promoting of, supporting of or participating in a terrorist group.

TEXT OF the Council's draft definition, 10 October (doc ref: 12647/01)

Article 1 - Terrorist offences

1. Each Member State shall take the necessary steps to ensure that terrorist offences shall include [at least] [Footnote:1] the following offences, as defined under national law, where unlawfully committed with the aim of seriously [Footnote 2] affecting, in particular by the intimidation of the population, or destroying the political, economic or social structures of a country or of an international organisation:

(a) murder and homicide;
(b) serious bodily injury;
(c) kidnapping or hostage taking;
(d) extortion;
(e) aggravated robbery;
(f) seizure of or serious damage to state or government facilities, means of public transport, infrastructure facilities, places of public use and property;
(g) fabrication, possession, acquisition, transport or supply of weapons or explosives;
(h) releasing contaminating substances, or causing fires, explosions or floods, endangering people, property, animals or the environment;

(i) interfering with or disrupting the supply of water, power or any other fundamental natural resource;
(j) interfering with an information system.
(k) threatening to commit any of the offences listed above except those referred to in points (d) and (g).

2. For the purpose of this Framework Decision, an act shall be regarded as "unlawful" if it is committed without any justification laid down in national law or in international public law.

Footnotes:
1 It should be decided at a later date whether these words should be retained.
2 Ireland and UK propose the deletion of this word. [The deletion of the word "seriously" would widen the scope of the definition - SW].

Full-text of European Commission proposal: Text (pdf)
Full-text of Council's reaction: Text (pdf)



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