Anti-terror decree – beginning of terror for human rights?
President Yanukovych recently signed a Decree bringing into effect the National Defence and Security Council Decision from 25 May 2012 on Heightening the fight against terrorism (translation here)
Analysis of the decree shows that this hyping up of the subject of terrorism conceals the latest attack on human rights.
So that people believe in the threat of terrorism, the Decision begins by stating that “a heightened threat of terrorism has in recent times become an extremely serious problem in Ukraine.
The main reasons for terrorism are radicalism; extremism; politicization of issues concerning inter-ethnic, ethno-faith relations; the spread of public intolerance and confrontation, particularly with respect to socio-political relations; as well as the negative impact of international terrorist and religious-extremist organizations”.
It’s hard to believe that this is about the real situation in Ukraine where in 2009 – 2010 one case over the Criminal Code articles on terrorism was investigated each year. Last year there were three such cases, this year there is one.
All the cases, with the exception of the so-called “Vasilkiv terrorsts” case which is also dubious were linked with extortion of money and not the reasons for terrorism cited in the decree/
In fact this preamble in the decree is intended to prepare the unaware reader with the idea that the whole range of measures in the decree are “necessary”.
Yet some of the measures are startling. They either have a very distant relation to terrorism, like for example, drawing up a law on cybernetic security, or none whatsoever – preparing a law on private detective investigative operations. What does that mean – that investigation of “terrorist” cases will be given to private detectives?
Some of the planned measures arouse serious concern.
Firstly, the bill envisages drawing up a law on countering extremism. It is interesting that a draft bill under this title was tabled in parliament by the notorious MP Vadim Kolesnichenko. The Central Scientific Expert Assessment Department of the Verkhovna Rada concluded that “the need for passing a special law on countering extremism which could create the conditions for widespread violations of human rights and civil liberties seems dubious”. The profile parliamentary committee supported the Department’s recommendation to reject the draft bill.
Secondly, the President instructed the government to take measures on making amendments to laws regarding designating the procedure for declaring organizations terrorist and dissolving them. This is despite the fact that the grounds for dissolving a citizen’s association are set out in the Constitution and the recently adopted law on civic associations.
Thirdly, the intention to provide subdivisions carrying out investigative operations extra powers is disturbing.
For example the right to use special technical measures for preventing crimes linked with terrorist activity. The use of any covert means of gathering information is an intrusion into human rights and such interference is only possible in accordance with the Constitution and usually with a court order. These issues are presently regulated sufficiently by legislation, including the new Criminal Procedure Code.
Implementation of the decree could lead to investigative operations bodies receiving the right to gather information without observance of constitutional safeguards.
All these measures are taken from the Russian legislative experience. In practice this has led to broad use of “anti-terrorist” and “anti-extremist” legislation for the regime’s fight against political opponents, civic activists and widespread violations of human rights.
It is entirely clear that the issue of fighting terrorism and extremism will be artificially hyped up in order to justify harsher measures to restrict civic activity and human rights.
The public should closely monitor implementation of the decree and counter any attempts to implement a Russian scenario.
Roman Kuybida, Centre for Political and Legal Reform