Rush to “fight terrorism” threatens our fundamental rights and security

By EDRi · July 4, 2016

Today, on 4 July 2016, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties (LIBE) waved through a compromise text for a Directive on “combating terrorism”. The compromise comes after a series of secret negotiations between a handful of parliamentarians.

Our freedoms and security are being threatened by unclear provisions on key issues like internet blocking and encryption. The text also includes undefined terms, such as “radicalisation” and the “glorification of terrorism” which can be subject to abuse. Due to political pressure, there was “exceptionally” no assessment of alternatives to the far-reaching measures contained in the proposal. This political expediency risks undermining the values on which the European Union is founded.

Speed is being prioritised over quality. The calculation appears to be that it is better for the EU to be seen to be doing “something” rather than taking its time to adopt legislation that is actually fit for purpose,

said Joe McNamee, Executive Director of European Digital Rights (EDRi).

Terrorism is a topic that requires more time and not less. It requires more public debate and not less. It requires more safeguards to defend our fundamental freedoms from the threat of violence and not fewer.

After the Commission had drafted its legislative proposal in only two weeks, Members of the Civil Liberties Committee then tabled 438 amendments for today’s vote, before agreeing in secret meetings to “compromise” amendments to replace many of them. Today’s vote is not the end: now eight parliamentarians and EU Member States will start closed-door, secret meetings, together with the European Commission (known as “trilogues”). These meetings will be used to reach a compromise between the position taken today and the position of the Member States in the Council of the European Union. This will then be rubber-stamped by the European Parliament and the Member States.

Afterwards, it will be up to the Member States to implement their interpretations of the unclear provisions in the Directive. It is during this process where any lack of clarity of the legislation will cause damage, with unpredictable consequences. Countries around the world are already using measures that were originally adopted to combat terrorism and violent extremism to silence journalists, activists and normal people who want to express themselves.

EDRi has worked extensively on the proposal during the Parliament discussions and we are pleased that some of our suggestions were taken into account, even if the final text adopted by the Committee still falls short of what we would consider acceptable.

An unclear, confused, rushed and populist Directive risks being significantly worse than no legislation at all.

Read more:

EDRi’s recommendations on the compromise amendments to the Terrorism Directive

EDRi’s recommendations on the amendments to the Terrorism Directive

Terrorism and internet blocking – is this the most ridiculous amendment ever? (19.06.2016)

Next year, you’ll complain about the Terrorism Directive (18.06.2016)

Countering terrorism, a.k.a. the biggest human rights threat of 2016 (20.04.2016)

Recommendations for the European Parliament’s Draft Report on the Directive on Combating Terrorism (29.03.2016)