Rush to pass anti-terrorist proposals

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Series Details Vol.7, No.34, 20.9.01, p3
Publication Date 20/09/2001
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Date: 20/09/01

By John Shelley

Justice ministers are today (20 September) due to meet to discuss fast-tracking new anti-terrorism laws through the EU's normally lengthy legislative process.

In a special meeting called in the wake of the attacks on America they will discuss proposals to introduce a Union-wide definition of terrorism which would broaden the use of the term to include anyone accused of aiding and abetting acts of terror and not just those who actually commit terrorism.

Also on the table will be plans for a European arrest warrant for terrorism and organised crime.

If approved this will mean that if police in one member state issue a request for the arrest of a terrorist in another then the authorities in that country would automatically be responsible for apprehending the suspect.

Civil liberties groups are concerned that member states may rush through new laws without fully considering the consequences. "There will be a great temptation to accelerate the processes already begun without due consideration for the practical effect of them on innocent citizens," said Stephen Jakobi of campaign group Fair Trials abroad. "The immediate threat is to Muslims who may find themselves in foreign prisons without redress."

Report of extraordinary Justice and Home Affairs Council, Brussels, 20 September 2001.

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