[JURIST] Spain’s lower house of parliament, the Congress of Deputies [official website, in Spanish] debated proposed amendments to the Spanish criminal code on Tuesday that Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] alleges will infringe on individual human rights in the country. The new bill expands the range of crimes defined as terrorism. AI argues the proposed expansion threatens an individual’s right [AI report] to freedom of expression and assembly in Spain [AI backgrounder]. Julia Hall, AI’s expert on counter-terrorism and human rights, stated:
the proposed definition of terrorism includes so many crimes that it is rendered virtually meaningless. The parliament should reject any proposals that would violate basic rights.
Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy [EPP backgrounder] of the ruling People’s Party and the leader of the main opposition Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party, PSOE, signed a pact [EFE report] last week approving the bill.
Countries around the world have modified existing laws or passed new laws to curb fears of increasing extremism and terrorism, but critics argue that expansionary laws infringe on basic individual human rights. In January Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] criticized [JURIST report] China’s proposed new counter-terrorism legislation as a “recipe for abuses.” The Chinese government maintains that their draft law conforms to UN resolutions and that it allows for human rights to be respected and guaranteed. Also in January Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain signed into law anti-terrorism legislation [JURIST report] that will establish military courts for the hearing of civilian terrorism related cases. In December Kenya’s parliament passed a sweeping new anti-terrorism law [JURIST report] after some of its members engaged in a shoving match that led to blows being exchanged. However, two weeks later the High Court of Kenya suspended eight sections [JURIST report] of the country’s new anti-terrorism law until a legal challenge by the opposition is heard by the court.