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Counterterrorism: Violations of Human Rights


     Counterterrorism is terrorism in reaction to or retaliation of a previous act of terrorism. Although it is a necessity, there are many cases when human rights are violated due to the acts of counterterrorism. Counterterrorism occurs when any nation feels threatened by actions of another nation or individuals which spurs the nation to react. Cases when human rights are violated occur all over the world, examples range form physical barriers to racial discrimination. The acts of counterterrorism violate articles, described by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:


Article 1: All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. All should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.


Article 2: All are entitled to these rights and cannot be discriminated against on grounds of race, color, sex, religion, etc..

Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10: Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.

Article 11: Everyone charge with a penal offence is presumed innocent until proved guilty.

Article 13: Everyone has the freedom to move and reside within the borders of each state. As well as the right to leave any country and return to its own. 

Article: 17:  No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 19: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.

Article 20: Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Article 21: Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.


Israeli-Gaza Barrier

     An example of such counterterrorism is the “West Bank barrier,” being constructed by the Israeli government in its occupied territories in West Bank, sections in Jerusalem and in the Jordan Valley. The barrier has been in construction since 2002 and one fourth of it has been completed. The barrier is 440 miles long it is part fence, part wall (BBC, 2004). The Israeli government deemed the wall necessary in order to keep possible suicide bombers from entering Israel and attacking the people of Israel (BBC, 2004). The wall is seen by many as a “land grab,” because it doesn’t follow the boundary lines that were created before the six day war. This barrier creates tremendous problems for the Palestinian people. Often times the boundary dissects cities in two, separating inhabitants from family and livelihoods. The city of Qalqilya, previously known as the “fruit basket” of West Bank, has been cut off on three sides. Qalqilya has been separated from the farms that supply markets and is cut off from largest water sources in the region. The only way to get in and out of the city is through a single Israeli checkpoint (BBC, 2004). In some villages, the barrier cuts in so far that they’re now on Israel’s side. This severs them from both West Bank and Israel because Palestinians are unable to enter Israel and must go through military checkpoints to reach other villages in West Bank (Gray, 2009). The barrier violates the rights to move freely in their country and the right to leave the country.


Efforts against Barrier:

     Twice the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that sections of the barrier must be rerouted to avoid interruption of the lives of Palestinians (BBC, 2004). The US views that wall as “problematic because of its capacity to poison the atmosphere between the two sides” (Gray, 2009). The US is still dedicated to the roadmap to peace plan, in hopes that Israeli-Palestinian tensions will lighten. The UN issued a report that condemned the barrier, stating that it is the equivalent to “an unlawful act of annexation” (Gray, 2009).

What can YOU do?

    Visit Sendamessage website.docx to see how you can make a difference.






                                                                                                              Picture Retrieved from http://middleeastprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/Image/2007-09-06%202003%20Trajectory.jpg





Counterterrorism in U.S.

      The USA PATRIOT act is “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism act of 2001” (FCEN, 2009). Human rights were violated under the laws of this act. This act was put in place in 2001, by the Bush administration, after the attacks on the World Trade center. The act broadened the abilities of the federal administrations to take counter terror actions; this permitted the intrusion of the civil rights of Americans. The acts purpose was to expand terrorism laws to include “domestic terrorism” (ACLU, 2007). Under this act, law enforcement was able to perform secret investigations, increased powers of internet and phone surveillance, and access to medical, financial, mental health and student records. Any of these records could’ve been accessed without knowledge of the subject being investigated. Any non-citizens could be jailed or denied re-admission to US because of suspicion for engagement in free speech that seemed threatening to US security. The USA PATRIOT act violates the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth and fourteenth amendment (ACLU, 2007).


Concerns of act

 Amnesty International has expressed its concerns with the violations of human rights that have been presented by the USA PATRIOT act. AI promotes the preservation of human rights even in times of crisis. The act threatens the rights that are protected by the U.S. Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (AIUSA, 2009).






 Picture Retrieved from http://rlv.zcache.com/international_institute_for_counterterrorism_study_poster-p228074589397462979tdcp_400.jpg  


Problems in Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia has responded to terrorism through indefinite detention, religious counseling and flawed trails of suspects since 2003. Saudi Arabia has detained over 9,000 suspects without fair trial or no trial at all. "Saudi Arabia's response to terrorism for years has been to lock yo thousands of suspects and throw away the key," says Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director of Human Rights Watch. 

Many of these detainees are peaceful political activists, charged unfairly. The Mabahith, the domestic intelligence agency of Saudi Arabia, runs its own prisons which prevents effective judicial oversight (HRW, 2009). The government believes that religious counseling is a reasonable substitute to fair trials. Thousands of those jailed remain and will continue in detention. Many families have challenged the Mabahith, but the Interior Ministry simply ignores any requests.


The U.S. and U.K. are on cooperative terms with Saudi Arabia, both applaud Saudi Arabia for religious counseling, however overlook the wrongly imprisoned suspects of so called terrorist acts (HRW, 2009). Human Rights Watch is keeping a close eye on the governments actions, and is seeing very little change.


Picture Retrieved from http://www.4seephoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/preview_114045879.jpg  








American Civil Liberties Union. (2007). The USA PATRIOT ACT and government actions that threaten our civil liberties. Retrieved from http://www.aclu.org/FilesPDFs/patriot%20act%20flyer.pdf  


Amnesty International USA. (2009). Civil rights and the “war on terror”. Retrieved from http://www.amnestyusa.org/war-on-terror/civil-rights/page.do?id=1108209  


BBC News On-line. (2004). “Q&A: What is the west bank barrier?”. BBC News On-line. Retrieved from http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/3428771.stm  


Gray, M. (2009). “Palestinian graffiti spreads message of peace”. CNN. Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/meast/04/16/palestinian.wall.graffiti/index.html?iref=newssearch  


Financial Crimes Enforcement Network. (2009). USA PATRIOT act. Retrieved from http://www.fincen.gov/statutes_regs/patriot/index.html  


Picture of Israeli Barrier http://middleeastprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/Image/2007-09-06%202003%20Trajectory.jpg  


Picture of Saudi Arabia Counterterrorism http://www.4seephoto.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/preview_114045879.jpg  


Picture of US Counterterrorism http://rlv.zcache.com/international_institute_for_counterterrorism_study_poster-p228074589397462979tdcp_400.jpg  


Human Rights Watch. (2009). Saudi Arabia: counterterrorism efforts violate human rights. Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/08/04/saudi-arabia-counterterrorism-efforts-violate-rights  


Human Rights Watch. (2009). Human rights and Saudi arabia’s counterterrorism response. Retrieved from http://www.hrw.org/en/node/84893/section/2









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