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Human Rights and Terrorism, Essay Example

Pages: 5

Words: 1339

Essay

Suspending Civil Rights is not the Answer against Terrorism

Abstract

Since the tragedy of September 11, US Congress has initiated legislation to combat terrorism. In 2006 the United States President gave orders to military tribunals impinge upon human rights of terrorists in order to deal with detainees. Since then Bush and several Senate members have gone public to state they have resolved the conflicts dealing with non-resident detainees. “These conflicts began as early as Fall 2001”. (“Human Rights, Civil Rights and Terrorism”). Such measures that affect non-citizens who in the past obtained the most of Constitution’s protection and rights, presently create vital civil liberties problems because of infringements of human/civil rights which cannot be tolerated to the extent they have been.

Essay

The word “terrorism” “originated in the French Revolution, when the government instituted the “Reign of Terror” to execute political opponents, seize their property, and terrorize the rest of the population into submission.” (Kopel, 15). Many governments worldwide after the events of September 11 are now reviewing their security procedures and rights in an attempt to minimize the risk of similar situations catching them off guard and terrorizing their nation and population.

The hijackers have shown the world that a group of carefully organized and determined individuals can carry on destructive terrorist attacks. The world security and intelligence agencies are vamping up technology through surveillance in order to prevent another tragedy as 9/11. With a revamp in technology and surveillance, revising one’s country’s laws seems logical. But the question remains: what is the best way to fight terrorism? The most obvious question is would it be best to impinge upon the terrorists civil rights to protect our nations security?

The attacks on the United States were seen as the attacks on vital western civilization values, open society, civil rights as well as democracy in general. Important changes in legislation, suspension of civil liberties and rights as well as the declaration of the permanent state of emergency nowadays modify and remodel the foundation of the political community. What this states is that America’s defense means have become the very instrument of the attacker. Essential points and breaches within the international order appeared due to the state’s inability to properly respond to the global threat. America was basically caught with their pants down!

The Patriot Act that appeared shortly after September 11” is said to be controversial in the opinions of many (Stevens, 21). The majority of people agree that proposals inside the Act that do not pose fundamental threat are acceptable and those that do not violate civil rights are also considered within acceptable limits.  For example, increased information sharing between the law enforcement agencies as well as intelligence agencies inside and outside the country are necessary. The proposal that initially put on terrorist list those who commit such wrongdoings as possessing a gun or computer crimes, are now more specifically explained that until those individuals affect or influence government by coercion or intimidation, they are off the hook. However, those particular proposals place a person’s every day civil liberties and rights as well as a person’s property give rise to a red light from citizens.  The proposal that deals with the internet message tracking is already a controversial one. This is considered an invasion of a person’s privacy. If agencies are able to provide a guarantee that they intercept only tracing information without reading the whole message, then this tracking may be acceptable but this cannot be guaranteed.  Provisions that enforce agencies’ wish to expand forfeiture powers are limiting personal rights. People believe that there is no reason to seize assets in order to prevent somebody from leaving jurisdiction area.

People are concerned with surveillance for they feel they will lose their autonomy due to the pressure that surveillance will place on them.  People feel the law with regards to surveillance does not need a change; only the police need to find a better way to use the surveillance they have available to them.

Civil liberties are rights provided by the United States Constitution mandated to protect the people.  “Rights are a social construct, a product of history, of ideas and of institutions.”(Prospect Magazine) During wartime, there has been occurrence for reason of the US government to give the national security a priority concern while limiting civil liberties. An example is when soldiers were allowed to take over homes to temporarily reside to protect the nation’s security.  However, the import concern remains that no matter what innovations are in the system, there should always exist a strong balance between people’s rights and the nation’s security. After President Bush signed the Patriot Act more than 1100 non-citizens, who are of Middle East or South Asian origin, were detained for months. Moreover, the authorities did not provide any information on who those people were and why they were imprisoned. “A U.S. watch list of terrorism suspects has passed 1 million records, corresponding to about 400,000 people, and a leading civil rights group said on Monday the number was far too high to be effective.” (Reuters)

Hence, the main concern of the people of the United States public is that during times of terrorist threat, the people’s rights stay intact and protected.  “The issue of terrorism and human rights has become more urgent with the global surge in terrorism.” (UN Chronicle) The current legislation system that exists is a powerful tool to fight and solve national security problems. However, due to the lack of its proper implementation, citizens have had to suffer and be limited in their everyday inalienable rights.  By minimizing civil rights or suspending them, there is no clear guarantee that the fight with terrorism will reach its end. The question remains: why should the citizens suffer for the wrongs of the enemy. The majority of the terrorists are not even citizens of the United States. Should not the President and Congress look to protect the rights of the United States citizens and scourge the rights of the terrorist detainees instead?

Conclusion

Now let’s glare into what kind of rights, if any, terrorists should have with particular emphasis on civil liberties/human rights? To begin with this answer we can go back to the Germans and the Nazi’s and ask ourselves, “Why were the Nazi’s not given such human rights during World War II?” (Waduge, 2008).  Isn’t it a fact that those who capture POW’s often violate rights of POW’s far worse than what the POW’s did? Everyone, even terrorists are entitled to rights and should be brought before an international tribunal court for their wrongs they have committed against the people and the law and they should be punished in the country where they have committed the crimes so that the people of that country can be vindicated for the crimes committed against them and their people and country. Extradition should be automatically forfeited for closure. The Abu Ghraib prison scandal exposed the abuse of the Iraqi prisoners and the violation of their human rights. There was a violation under the Geneva Convention and extreme torture and interrogation methods used. “Military justice systems are designed to deal with soldiers who take the law into their own hands.” (Waduge, 2008). Next to the United States, the United Kingdom has a strong policy of human rights to all under the European Convention on Human Rights which is constantly amended to keep up with the modern times.

References

Dear, R. “Human Rights and Terrorism: The Human Rights Act is a welcome

constraint on government. But can it threaten our ability to fight terrorism?” Prospect Magazine. 9 August 2005 http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/2005/09/humanrightsandterrorism/

Kopel, D. B., Olson, J. “Preventing a reign of terror: civil liberties implications of terrorism legislation.” Oklahoma City University Law Review (1996): 15

Mikkelsen, R. “U.S. terrorism watch list tops 1 million.” Reuters. 14 July 2008 http://uk.reuters.com/article/idUKN1447675120080714

Palti, L. “Combating Terrorism While Protecting Human Rights.” UN Chronicle Online Edition. http://www.un.org/Pubs/chronicle/2004/issue4/0404p27.html

Stevens P., Bogle, T.C. “Patriotic Acts: Financial Institutions, Money Laundering and the War against Terrorism.” (2002): 21

Human Rights, Civil Rights and Terrorism (2010) Retrieved April 5, 2010 from, http://terrorism.about.com/od/humanrights/Human_Rights_Terrorism.htm

Waduge, S. (2008) Do Terrorists have Geneva Rights? Retrieved April 5, 2010 from, http://sinhale.wordpress.com/2008/05/01/do-terrorists-have-geneva-rights/

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