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Democratic rights must not become the collateral damage caused by the war against terrorism
01 November 2001
A group of lawyers have drawn up an "Appeal" to the European Parliament to reject the proposal by the European Commission which seeks to introduce a binding Framework Decision introducing a definition of "terrorism" which would seriously threaten democratic rights and the "freedom of association, the right to strike and freedom of expression". The "appeal" has already been signed by 82 lawyers from six countries and is open to lawyers, organisations and others to sign up to - by sending an e-mail to:
The text of the "appeal" is available in most EU languages: Appeal
Text of "Appeal" in English
DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS MUST NOT BECOME THE COLLATERAL DAMAGE CAUSED BY THE WAR AGAINST TERRORISM
The European Commission had prepared a framework decision concerning the struggle against terrorism the aim of which is to streamline legislation of the member states regarding not just sanctions imposed but equally concerning the very definition of terrorism.
The project is presented as a reaction on the attacks on New York and Washington. However the perpetrators of such acts would not go unpunished in any European country given the current legislative provisions of those countries.
In fact the legislative provisions of the States of the European Union provide the most sever sanctions for those who participate in whatever way in such acts of terrorism. That is equally true in those member states who have provides for specific antiterrorist legal measures in the past and for those who have no such specific legislation.
The new legislation proposed by the Commission's framework decision adds nothing to the legal armoury which is already in place to combat activity of this nature. Further the definition proposed is so wide that it permits the criminalising of all forms of social struggle which can now be defined as terrorism.
"The unauthorised capture of infrastructure with a view to seriously attacking social or economic structures". The scope of this definition would enable any occupation of a public place or any factory to qualify as a terrorist act. "Disruption of supplies of water, electricity, air or any essential natural resource" would render any protest by the employees of such facilities an act of terrorism. Further the incitement to commit this type of offence by any organisation would result in that organisation being defined as a terrorist organisation.
Freedom of association, the right to strike and freedom of expression are all seriously threatened by this framework decision. It is couched in the language of "war against terrorism". In reality this antiterrorist legislation once imposed will become a real war machine against fundamental democratic rights and against those who come up against a political and social system with its basis in economics, a system increasingly global and unjust.
We the undersigned call on those guardians of democratic rights to oppose this framework decision of the Commission, a decision which is binding on member states.
We demand that those in authority in Europe and their representatives in the European parliament prevent the coming into force of this project which will see the demise of liberty.
Antoine Comte, Lawyer in Paris
Ties Prakken, Lawyer in Amsterdam
Jan Fermon, Lawyer in Brussels"
For the full background please see Statewatch's "Observatory: In defence of freedom & democracy New laws & practices affecting civil liberties and rights after 11 September in the EU, UK and US"