Japan’s parliament, the National Diet [official website], passed a controversial “anti-conspiracy” bill on Thursday aimed at improving security and combating terrorism. Critics of the new bill, including the Japanese Bar Association and a UN Special Rapporteur [official website], worry it will be used to curb civil liberties and infringe on privacy rights. The law [BBC report] amends an existing regulation against organized crime groups, which are defined as two or more people, by outlining 277 acts which can be prosecuted under the new legislation. An entire group of people may be charged if at least one member is found to have been plotting a crime listed in the bill. Although serious crimes such as terrorism are on the list, lesser offenses, including copying music, competing in a motorboat race without a license and picking mushrooms in conservation forests, also carry heavy sentences. The ruling has also been critiqued due to the bill bypassing certain formalities in order for it to be approved quickly. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe‘s [BBC profile] ruling coalition, which holds the majority in the Diet [CNN report], argued that the law was needed in order to improve security before the 2020 Olympics and to comply with an agreement between Japan and the UN.
The international threat of terrorism is of global concern. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said [JURIST report] in early May that Egypt’s recent security measures have been encouraging the very radicalization they were trying to control. UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism Ben Emmerson said [JURIST report] in May that Saudi Arabia’s anti-terrorism laws are too broad and post a threat to individual rights. The UK Ministry of Justice announced [JURIST report] on Friday plans to separate 28 “dangerous extremist” from the main stream prison population by placing them in one of three separation centers. The UN Security Council in February condemned [JURIST report] the February 16 terrorist attack in Baghdad that left at least 55 people de