NEWS

EU-oriented changes for anti-terrorism laws

Significant changes are expected to anti-terrorism legislation in our country as the European Union heads toward the creation of common legislation and a European arrest warrant. Following a unanimous decision at the EU’s summit in Laaken, we should expect legislative reform for tackling terrorism by the beginning of 2004, by which time the trail of November 17 terror group suspects should have long ended. The new legislation distinguishes terrorism from other types of organized crime (such as extortion rings or mafia networks). For the first time the term «terrorist act» will be clearly defined, and a list will be compiled of all crimes to be henceforth categorized as acts of terrorism. Specifically, the following changes are foreseen: 1) Definition of a terrorist act: In order for an activity to be characterized as a terrorist act, it must comprise one or more crimes from those included in the aforementioned list, particularly when they are carried out a in way which, objectively speaking, is harmful for a country or an international organization and have as their aim the serious intimidation of a public authority or the destabilization of a country’s infrastructure. 2) List of crimes: The list will comprise around 12 crimes (such as manslaughter) which are either could be characterized as terrorist acts or which can be linked to terrorist activity. The new provisions and their interpretation will not impinge on human rights and freedoms such as the right to strike or the freedom of association. 3) Segregation of the leader’s role: Tougher penalties (between 15 years and life in prison) are foreseen for leaders of terrorist groups. 4) Punishment of those sponsoring organizations: For the first time, acts supporting or funding terrorist organizations will be deemed criminal. 5) Extension of jurisdiction for prosecution: The new provisions will enable our country (as well as all other EU states) – under certain circumstances – to try a member of terrorist group, who has committed an alleged crime and was arrested in the country, for other crimes the same individual allegedly committed in other EU member states. 6) «Express» extraditions for 32 crimes: With the creation of a European arrest warrant, there will be a series of amendments to the penal code so that our country can extradite a defendant or ask for their extradition through the EU. 7) Compensation for victims: A special provision foresees us compensating foreign victims of terrorist attacks or their families. 8) A longer statute of limitations: The statute of limitations for homicides by terror groups will increase from 20 to 30 years (this applies in other EU states).