UN: Misuse of terrorism laws catastrophic on civilians
The independent expert identified a “profoundly” worrying pattern whereby some nations are ignoring or undermining humanitarian rules because counterterrorism “offers a more open-ended, under-regulated and opaque set of tools,” to manage complex problems.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, file
UN: Misuse of terrorism laws catastrophic on civilians
Pia Lee-Brago (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The misuse of terrorism laws to address domestic strife and complex humanitarian settings can have a “catastrophic” impact on civilian populations, a United Nations expert has warned.

Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, UN special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights while countering terrorism, said the misuse of terrorism laws during conflicts often leads to an “unmitigated calamity” on the ground.

Ní Aoláin said what are being billed by some governments as counterterrorism measures are being applied frequently to address domestic strife and in complex humanitarian settings.

“In these cases, they can have a catastrophic impact on civilian populations, which are being squeezed by broadly framed terrorism laws and practices with little or no recourse, when misuse occurs,” she said.

The independent expert identified a “profoundly” worrying pattern whereby some nations are ignoring or undermining humanitarian rules because counterterrorism “offers a more open-ended, under-regulated and opaque set of tools,” to manage complex problems.

Her report tracks the essential relationship between protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable, including the elderly and children, in complex and fragile settings and enforcing basic humanitarian norms, including providing humanitarian assistance.

“I am profoundly troubled by the failure to apply humanitarian exemptions for activities that are humanitarian and impartial in nature,” Ní Aoláin said. “Such shortsighted tactics of withholding or criminalizing humanitarian assistance only prolongs conflicts, alienates those who are needed to ultimately resolve such conflicts, and hurts the most marginal in society.”

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