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China adopts new anti-terrorism legislation

China passed new anti-terrorism legislation on Saturday that will amend current criminals laws by providing a definition of "acts of terror" and establish ways for security forces to deal with such acts. The law defines "terrorists" as "those who organize, plot and conduct terrorist acts as well as those who are members of terrorist groups," and terrorist acts as "those acts which are intended to induce public fear or to coerce state organs or international organizations by means of violence, sabotage, threats or other tactics." In an effort to unify enforcement [Reuters report], authorities will now have the power to publish lists of terror suspects and freeze their assets. The law was proposed last week [JURIST report] before the Standing Committee of China' National People's Congress (NPC) [official website] in order to amend China's criminal law that failed to define the terms "terrorist" and "terrorist organization," or to define what constitutes "terrorist acts." Chinese Vice Minister of Public Security Yang Huanning emphasized the danger of having no clear definitions [Xinhua report] in the current law, noting in his report to the NPC that "China is faced with the real threat of terrorist activities, and the struggle with terrorism is long-term, complicated and acute."

Other countries have also recently considered amending their anti-terrorism laws. In August, Philippine President Benigno Aquino III [official website] urged lawmakers to enhance a controversial anti-terror law [JURIST report] by removing provisions that deter authorities from using the law. The proposed change would reduce the $11,700-per-day fine imposed on police or military forces who wrongfully detain terror suspects, as well as removal of a provision requiring suspects to be alerted when they are placed under surveillance. The current law faces criticism from opponents who say its language is overly broad and that is has rarely been used. Also in August, Saudi Arabian officials proposed amendments [JURIST report] to a draft anti-terrorism law that would criminalize taking up arms against the king or crown prince. The Saudi Arabian draft law has been sharply criticized by Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] which alleges the proposed law conflicts with international human rights treatises.

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