Misuse of Terrorism Charges Against Defenders

In the last ten years, governments around the world have increasingly enacted laws aimed at criminalizing support of terrorist organizations. While these laws play an important role in combatting the financing and other material support of terrorist organizations, some states have adopted vague and sweeping laws that are susceptible to arbitrary or discriminatory application. 

The Justice Defenders Program has worked to amend legislation related to Counterterrorism, National Security and Specialized Courts that seek to limit due process rights and target human rights defenders for their legitimate human rights work.

See below for examples of the Program's public work on the misuse of terrorism charges against defenders.


Persecuting Human Rights Defenders in the Name of Counter-terrorism

The Justice Defenders Program examined the genesis of terrorism statutes used to target human rights defenders, legal issues raised by the misapplication of these laws, and best practices for implementing counterterrorism laws in a manner consistent with international law. 


Mozambique: Effective Counter-terrorism strategies do not include arresting journalists

In the wake of an increasing crackdown on terrorism in Mozambique, the Justice Defenders Program demonstrated its concern  regarding the arrest of Amade Abubacar and several other journalists for investigating alleged human rights abuses by the country's own security forces.

Mozambique: Universal Periodic Review Submission by the ABA Center for Human Rights (November 2020)

In this submission to the third periodic cycle of the Universal Periodic Review of the Republic of Mozambique, the Center provides updates and makes recommendations regarding human rights violations in the context of counterterrorism and broader freedom of expression concerns. 


Saudi Arabia: Counterterror Court Targets Activists

The report focuses on the misuse of Saudi Arabia's Specialized Criminal Court, a body originally created to prosecute terrorism suspects, to target activists. The Justice Defenders Program interviewed individuals familiar with proceedings in the SCC and reviewed judgments, public reports, press statements, and other materials concerning the court.  The report concluded that the SCC routinely convicts individuals of terrorism charges without any meaningful evidence.