THE cabinet last week decided to enact a new law to combat terrorism. The proposed draft of the anti-terrorism law was discussed at a meeting thoroughly. It was decided to send the draft to a cabinet committee for further scrutiny and necessary recommendations within a month.
A law like the proposed one, will have far-reaching effects, both for the government and the public at large. Nearly three decades ago the Special Powers Act was brought into being. We all know how this particular law was abused to oppress people, whom the government of the time did not like or thought uncompromising. Later came the infamous Public Safety Act which expired on non-renewal after its original two-year validity. Now an anti terrorism law is round the corner.
It is, therefore, imperative that prior to approval of the draft law it
be made public for discourse on and critical scrutiny in various forums. The cabinet has decided to form a parliamentary committee to review it. But it is also necessary for public acceptance to circulate the draft bill for eliciting public opinion as it is directly linked to public interest and security.
One aspect of the scrutiny should be to find out any ambiguity in the provisions having the potential of being used or abused to serve short-sighted partisan political interest. The government should also think about the role of the enforcers who should be careful to apply it so that there is no human rights abuse by them. Or, will it broaden the clumsy avenues for harassing individuals at will to augment their bad income?
We need a tough law. But that should be comprehensive and wise enough to ensure security and safety of all law-abiding people.
M A Samad