[JURIST] Proposed anti-terrorism legislation came before the Standing Committee of China’ National People’s Congress (NPC) [official website] on Tuesday that would provide specific legal definitions for terrorism and allow officials to more easily bring terror charges against suspects. Under China’s current criminal law, those who organize, lead or actively participate in terrorist activities can receive a punishment of up to 10 years in prison, but the law fails 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.” The proposed legislation would define 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.” The bill would also allow for the assets of suspected terrorists and terrorist organizations to be frozen and for the names of individuals and organizations to be published.
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.