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UN warns of counter-terrorism measures used to restrict public interest groups

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights Ben Emmerson [official profile] expressed concern [press release] Monday over the rising use of counter-terrorism measures around the world. Many nations have used counter-terrorism as an excuse to restrict public assembly and stop the activities of public interest groups, Emmerson said. He urged UN states to recognize the positive activities performed by these groups, such as promoting human rights, giving a voice to marginalized people and providing humanitarian relief.

Many nations have passed anti-terrorism laws in recent years that have been criticized by the UN and other advocacy groups. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi [BBC profile] approved a 54-article counter-terrorism law in August, which has been met with significant controversy as many believe it to be an infringement on freedom of the press. Tunisia's parliament voted to approve a new anti-terror law despite strong criticism [JURIST report] from NGOs and human rights groups in July. In January Amnesty International [advocacy website] called on [JURIST report] Pakistan to stop sentencing people for violation of the 1997 Anti-Terrorism Act, which they described as "so vague that almost all crimes fall under [its] definition." Nine bloggers were jailed in Ethiopia in April 2014 for violation of Ethiopia's broad anti-terrorism laws, but five of the bloggers were acquitted [JURIST report] in October.

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