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Philippines bishops urge government to revisit anti-terror law

[JURIST] The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) [organization website] Monday urged the Filipino government [press release] to revisit the controversial 2007 Human Security Act [press release], saying that "many voices are apprehensive" about the anti-terror legislation. Critics say the law defines terrorism too loosely and gives government authorities too much latitude to restrict civil liberties. The law, which was signed [JURIST report] by President Gloria Arroyo in March and is scheduled to go into effect on July 15, allows police to detain suspected terrorists for three days without charges, and also allows the house arrest of suspects released on bail.

The CBCP, the official organization of the Catholic episcopacy in the Philippines, is highly influential as nearly 81 percent of the Filipino population is Catholic. In March, a United Nations human rights expert urged [statement; JURIST report] the Philippines to amend or repeal the anti-terrorism law because it allows house arrests without strong evidence of guilt and transfers the power to review detentions to the executive branch instead of an independent judicial body. AFP has more.

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