Updates on the Anti-Terrorism Law

9. November 2020 | Human Rights News, Internal Affairs

The so-called Anti-Terrorism Bill was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on July 3, 2020. It includes a definition of terrorism, which is criticized by lawyers and human rights organizations as overly broad and vague. So far, 37 suits against the law are pending at the Supreme Court. Concerns are that the Philippine jurisdiction might not act effectively in order to protect individuals from human rights violations. United Nations Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet also expressed concerns “about the blurring of important distinctions between criticism, criminality and terrorism”. Part of the new law is the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) which has the mandate to designate individuals and organizations as “terrorists”. This is problematic as the ATC is not independent, it consists of members of the Government and the administration. Those designated as “terrorists” can be arrested without a judicial warrant and detained without charge for up to 24 days before they must be presented before a judicial authority. Most recent reason for concern is also the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) which was published on October 17, 2020 and includes under Rule 6.5 the announcement that a list of individuals and organizations designated as “terrorists” by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC), which will be published in a national newspaper as well as online. Under Rule 6.9 Individuals on the list will be given 15 days to file a request for delisting. Philippine human rights organizations expect it to be published anytime soon in the upcoming weeks and to contain about 300 individuals and organizations. With regard to the severely life-threatening and recently broadly applied practice of red-tagging, this would be a crackdown on the safety of those named on the list. It is also expected that Bank accounts of the designated “terrorists” will be frozen without Anti Money Laundering Council (AMLC) probe or court order, which severely hampers their civil and social work.

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