International Peace and Terrorism"Literature Review" Chapter

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International Peace and Terrorism

What changes to existing legal regimes may reduce the incentive and make the law more effective in preserving peace

In an attempt to enhance global peace and suppress terrorism, various stakeholders have in the past suggested a number of strategies that, in their view, ought to be embraced. This is particularly the case when it comes to enforcing the relevant changes to the existing legal systems in an attempt to enhance their efficiency. It would be prudent to focus on three of the legal regime changes that have been proposed. These include: standardization of laws and procedures across countries and regions, reformation of national laws, cooperation and support for international laws. These will, in no specific order, be highlighted, in the subsequent sections of this review.

Reformation of National Laws

Various jurisdictions have their own unique laws of handling terror and other crimes that are a threat to international peace. Some of these are, however, not well formulated. Further, as Ramraj, Hor, Roach, and Williams (2012), point out, the said laws do not take into consideration the dynamic face of terror and other crimes against humanity that have been variously cited to be threats to international peace. In some cases, countries have been accused of enacting counter-terrorism laws that limit or threaten civil liberties. In some other cases, the laws have been deemed too lenient to deter even the least daring of terrorists and others regarded as being threats to international peace (Ramraj, Hor, Roach, and Williams, 2012). It is for this reason that there have been calls for the reformation of the existing national anti-terror and other laws that safeguard and foster international peace.

a)

Increasing Police Powers

To begin with, there may be need to further enhance or increase police powers to make them more capable of handling terrorism and other threats to international peace. Countries that have in the past taken this route in an effort to defeat terrorists include, but they are not limited to, West Germany, and Italy. In West Germany, for example, sometimes in the 70s and early 80s, when the Red Army- RAF posed significant threat to the well-being of the country and the region at large, police in the country, in addition to being allowed to conduct building searches in search of terror suspects (with a court order of course), "could also establish checkpoints on roadways to stop traffic and inspect the identification of travelers" (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2014). As a consequence of these measures, RAF was significantly weakened and West Germany's anti-terrorism efforts deemed a success.

In Italy, the relevant laws also had to be put in place to enhance police powers. In an attempt to rein in the Red Brigade terrorists who were active in Italy during the 70s and 80s, police were given the authority to "stop, search, and detain terrorist suspects" (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2014). As the Constitutional Rights Foundation (2014) further points out, provisions were also made to ease the existing restrictions on wiretaps. Thanks to these measures, "the Red Brigade movement began to collapse" (Constitutional Rights Foundation, 2014). In the final analysis, therefore, as was the case with Germany, Italy was able to root out terror and related crime via the enhancement of police powers. It should be noted that when it comes to the further enhancement of the powers of our security organs, there is need to ensure that basic human rights are not trampled upon. There should be checks and balances to the said power. Countries could, for example, formulate laws similar to the New South Wales Terrorism (Police Powers) Act 2001, which in addition to handing special powers over to law enforcement officers to counter threats, also makes it possible for them to respond to acts of terror in a more efficient and effective way. There is also the Victorian Terrorism (Community Protection) Act 2003 (the Victorian Act) which, in the words of O'Neill, Rice, and Douglas (2004, p. 276) "expands police posers and makes special provisions for emergencies arising in consequence of terrorist attacks." Amongst other things, police officers are, as per the New South Wales Act, granted the authority to stop as well and search a person or vehicle, as well as enter premises for purposes of conducting the relevant searches (NSW Government, 2014). It is, however, important to note that for a police officer to exercise the special powers highlighted above, he or she must have "reasonable grounds to believe there is a threat of a terrorist act, or one has already occurred, and the use of the said powers will substantially assist in preventing the terrorist act or in apprehending the persons responsible for the terrorist act" (NSW Government, 2014). When it comes to preventive arrests of individuals, the thresholds in place in quite a number of countries, including the U.S., ought to be re-examined. Police powers need to be strengthened, under the law, particularly in the area of surveillance, detention, as well as arrest.

b)

Stiffer Penalties for Terror Suspects, their Funders, and those Seen as Threats to International Peace and Harmony

Individual countries should embrace laws that impose stiff penalties for all those who seek to kill and maim, as well as disrupt peace and order. One of the amendments that could be made in this case is the imposition of criminal liability upon all those who attend or support a terrorist training camp or actively engage in the recruitment of terrorists (Walker, 2011). This will play a huge role towards deterring those who attend militant training and are then dispatched to various locations across the world from where they launch attacks -- thus posing great danger to international peace and security.

Those convicted of terror attacks should also be granted stiffer penalties and be imprisoned for longer terms. Some jurisdictions have unspecified jail terms for those convicted of acts of terror. This, as Walker (2011) observes could allow some terrorists to get light sentences -- particularly in countries whose judicial systems are not as effective or have been compromised. For this reason, Walker (2011) recommends that the minimum penalty for acts of terror be fixed, i.e. 30 years to life imprisonment. Some of the countries that have during the recent past enacted stiff laws against terrorism include, but they are not limited to, Bahrain, Kenya, Singapore, and Morocco.

Standardization of Laws

It should be noted, from the onset, that most countries have what is referred to as the national security law. This law, in essence, defines the way a given country responds to threats to law and order. It is, therefore, important to note that each country handles threats to national, regional, and global security, in a unique and predetermined way. A few examples could be given to highlight this. It was the national security law, for instance, that determined how the United States and Italy responded to communists. While they were elected to parliament in Italy, the U.S. classified them as threats to national security (Scheppele, 2010). As the author further points out, while Czechoslovakia was largely accommodative of secessionist movements, even splitting peacefully, Chechnya and Northern Ireland were not as accommodative; they, as a matter of fact, responded with violence. In basic terms, what is regarded a threat by a specific nation could be seen as a norm or acceptable standard of behavior in some other nation. The response of national security law, as Scheppele (2010) observes, would be essentially different in each case. However, the author notes that "if national security law seemed the norm before 9/11, developments since seriously challenge that view, at least when it comes fighting terrorism" (Scheppele, 2010, p. 437). This is to say that most countries have recognized the need to do away with laws that largely conflict. In the words of Scheppele (2010, p. 437), "after 9/11, the antiterrorism laws that have very similar shapes have been put into effect in countries that are otherwise radically different." This, in essence, is what standardization of laws is all about.

Many authors have, in the past, suggested that one of the greatest setbacks in the war against terror remains different and sometimes conflicting national laws especially with regard to the surveillance of those suspected of having committed acts of terror, apprehension of terror suspects, and extradition of those arrested for their involvement in terrorist activities. This according to Walker (2011) is particularly given that terrorism is currently viewed or regarded a global inter-border issue that affects all countries equally -- effectively meaning that all countries have to cooperate in an attempt to rein in this threat to international peace. Some of the most important areas of cooperation, as far as the standardization of national laws is concerned include, but they are not limited to, extradition of suspects, evidence securing (for prosecution purposes), and other law enforcement measures such as freezing of the assets of terror suspects. It is not difficult to see why there is need for international cooperation on legal matters when it comes… [END OF PREVIEW]

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