Faisal Bodi provides an overview and analysis of anti-terrorism laws either enacted or proposed in the UK, USA, Canada and South Africa, and assesses their impact on civil liberties. This report was prepared for the UN Fourth World Conference Against Racism, held in South Africa in August, 2001.
The article discusses the spread of standardized terrorism laws around the world, which have originated from the US and are being implemented in countries such as Britain, Canada, and possibly South Africa. These laws have two main elements: extra-territorial jurisdiction and a broad definition of “terrorism” that includes violence against foreign heads of state and groups that advocate or support the use of violence against oppressive governments. The article questions why ostensibly democratic societies would want to outlaw the activities of those who are campaigning for the same freedoms as themselves and suggests that the reason is political, to delegitimize popular struggles against oppressive and illegitimate regimes.