This terrorism law will not solve problems

20 June 2005

This terrorism law will not solve problems

Jan de Wit, Member of Parliament for the SP, is sceptical about the terrorism law proposed to Parliament today by Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner. The law gives broad powers to courts and the police to pursue non-suspects and to lock people who are under suspicion up for long periods. In his response, Jan De Wit said “Terrorism must first and foremost be tackled intelligently, not in this crude fashion.”

Jan de WitThe new measures make it possible to establish a police investigation of people in the absence of any suspicion that they have committed an offence. Telephone tapping, surveillance and infiltration can be conducted by the police if there is an indication of terrorist offences. What constitutes an 'indication' is not clear. It need include neither incriminating facts nor circumstances. De Wit considers that this will certainly lead to mistakes. “And then you won't arrest terrorists, but cause innocent citizens inconvenience or worse, and create an atmosphere of anxiety and mistrust.”

De Wit is also concerned about the possibility that people against whom reasonable grounds for suspicion do exist may be imprisoned for up to two years without trial, arguing that this makes suspects extremely vulnerable while the contribution it will make to a solution to the problem of terrorism is open to question.

The SP believes that intelligence operations are necessary in order to identify people who are prepared to commit terrorist attacks. De Wit supports the extension of such operations by the AIVD (the state intelligence service) and an increase in the number of personnel trained for this purpose. In addition, he has on behalf of the SP proposed that investigations be conducted to identify groups whose ideas may lead them towards terrorism. Attention must be paid to such groups, so that the spiral of alienation and a certain kind of 'radicalisation' leading to violence can be broken.

De Wit: “The police and intelligence services have already sufficient powers. It's a matter of setting priorities in their work. It is furthermore important to bring alienated people back to society. We should not allow them to fall into a downward spiral of extremism and violence. In my opinion this this terrorism law does not contribute sufficiently to a solution to current problems.”

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