Canada PM urges stronger anti-terrorism laws in response to shooting
Canada PM urges stronger anti-terrorism laws in response to shooting

[JURIST] Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper [official profile] announced plans to strengthen Canada’s anti-terrorism laws [press release] in a statement to the Canadian Parliament [official website] on Thursday. Harper’s plans for increased security measures comes in response to an attack by a lone gunman [BBC report] on Canada’s parliament and the National War Memorial [Veterans Affairs backgrounder] on Wednesday, during which a soldier was shot and killed. The attack came just two days after another attacker attempted to run over two soldiers, which Canadian police described as a terrorist attack [Guardian report]. Both attackers were described as “radicalized Muslim converts” [BBC report], and are thought to have been inspired by Islamic State (IS) [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] propaganda.

Anti-terrorism laws have become much stricter in the years following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center [JURIST backgrounder], and even more so in recent months following the rise of IS. Enforcement of such laws has often led to allegations of human rights abuses. In July Pakistan’s parliament passed an anti-terrorism measure [JURIST report] which permits police to use lethal force, search buildings without a warrant and detain suspects at secret facilities for up to 60 days without charge “on reasonable apprehension of commission of a scheduled offense.” Opponents of the law claim it grants excessive power to police and is rife with the potential for abuse. In April Amnesty International (AI) challenged an anti-terrorism bill [JURIST report] proposed in the Brazilian National Congress, claiming the law as written threatens free speech and peaceful assembly. AI challenged a similar law in Egypt [JURIST report] the same month, arguing that amendments to the law would allow the government to levy terrorism charges on a broad range of offenses, and could be used as a tool to root out dissent. Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz ratified a new anti-terrorism law [JURIST report] in February, drawing criticism from Human Rights Watch, which argues that the law unduly restricts free speech.