By J. Michael Cole
Monday, Mar 26, 2007, Page 8
In and of itself, the Cabinet's introduction of an anti-terrorism act is not necessarily an alarming development.
After all, since the multiple terrorist attacks in the US on Sept. 11, 2001, most countries -- including liberal democracies -- have revised their systems of laws governing security activities.
Reorganization and the streamlining of the many intelligence, law enforcement, military and judicial branches comprising the prevention of and response to terrorism is a logical reaction to the reality of terrorism.
What should make Taiwanese pause, however, is the nature of the proposed bill, which upon close scrutiny presents a fundamental threat to liberty and human rights.
The act's fundamental flaws are twofold: First, it fails to define terrorism or "acts of terror" and thus provides authorities with an open-ended means of targeting individuals and groups whose activities may be perceived as representing a threat to the nation. Without a legal definition of what constitutes terrorism -- an interpretation which can span the spectrum from "intent to commit an act of terrorism" to "sponsoring a terrorist organization" to the actual "commission of an act of terrorism" -- states will soon embark upon the very dangerous slippery slope of open interpretations and subsequent abuse. In many cases, a loose definition can mean the difference between a decision to investigate or not and investigations will be launched when they shouldn't, with dire repercussions for the individuals targeted.
The second flaw, which follows upon the first, is the minimal oversight that would be part of the new act. Absent an independent and proactive oversight body, law enforcement agencies and intelligence services will be at liberty to engage in activities in breach of civil liberties and privacy rights -- even more so when the definition of terrorism is nonexistent, as is the case here.
Without a system of checks and balances, agencies will exploit the permissibility that this offers them and not only target individuals who should not be investigated in the first place, but will also do so with an inappropriate level of intrusion -- from wiretaps to e-mail interception -- as has happened in the US and, sadly, in many other countries.
Font Taipei Times
Els efectes del Trio de les Açores : Més por, menys responsabilitat, menys llibertat, menys responsabilitat. El nazisme va crèixer damunt d'aquest compost.