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Rights group urges India president to reject new anti-terrorism measures

[JURIST] Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] on Thursday urged Indian President Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil [official website] to reject [press release] the recently passed Unlawful Activities Prevention Amendment of 2008 (UAPA) [legislative materials], which would allow the government to hold terrorism suspects for up to 180 days. The bill, which comes in response to the recent Mumbai terror attacks [BBC backgrounder], was approved [JURIST report] by the lower house of parliament Wednesday and by the upper house Thursday, and must now be signed by Patil before taking effect. AI Asia Pacific Program Deputy Director Madhu Malhotra said, "While we utterly condemn the attacks and recognise that the Indian authorities have a right and duty to take effective measures to ensure the security of the population, security concerns should never be used to jeopardize people's human rights." Proponents of the UAPA have said that there are safeguards in place [Hindustan Times report] to make sure that the new law is not misused.

The attacks in Mumbai, which claimed at least 170 lives, were carried out at ten locations across the city, including the landmark Taj Mahal Palace hotel [hotel website]. In the wake of the attacks, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh [official website] pushed for tougher anti-terrorism measures [JURIST report].

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