What Salvadoran bloggers are saying — anti-terrorism law

El Salvador has a legislative National Assembly where no party holds absolute sway. While the majority of deputies are from parties which will work with the President Saca's ARENA party, the FMLN continues to have sufficient votes to block much legislation. Recently, even though El Salvador has not suffered from al-Qaeda style terrorism, the National Assembly has been spending much time working on an anti-terrorism bill.

Rocío writes in her blog about a concern that “terrorism” is not well-defined(es) in the law. Because terrorist acts under the law can be any conduct intended to provoke fear, alarm, or insecurity in the population, it may be subject to abuse. Before such a law is adopted, Rocío believes the country needs to adopt measures to improve the judicial system in the country to protect jealously the human rights of its citizens.

Blogger Ixquic also makes several points about the proposed law in her post titled Parliamentary Terrorism(es). First, Ixquic finds the need to point out that combatting terrorism is not inconsistent with international standards of human rights. In fact, the United Nations and varioius international treaties expressly condemn terror. So the creation of an anti-terrorism law is not, by itself, an act designed to impair the human rights of Salvadoran citizens.

Second, Ixquic wonders whether such a law is even needed. The deputies seem to want to have a specialized law for every problem — but the crimes in the law are already crimes under the existing criminal code. The only difference in the law is to impose higher penalties where the motive of the crime is to cause terror.

Third, Ixquic responds to the FMLN and other organizations which claim that the anti-terrorism law is actually aimed at stopping demonstrations against the government. She reviewed the law's provisions and found nothing to support those statements. The only provision against demonstrations outlaws those where the demonstrators come armed with weapons.

But Ixquic finds a greater incongruity. Even though the country has a thousand laws and a thousand specialized institutions for every problem, none of them will be effective if the government does not put in place other essential measures to prevent, investigate and punish crimes of any type. In her view, what the country needs much more urgently is an institute for forensic sciences and solid programs for the training of police and prosecutors. Instead, she laments that the legislature has spent so much time and resources on a subject (terrorism) which does not touch the Salvadoran people.

And now for the first time, debates over laws like the anti-terrorism bill can be seen on television in El Salvador. Jjmar, at the blog Hunnapuh(es), notes that the sessions of the legislature are being televised on a cable channel. This is only a small step, since most people in El Salvador do not have cable, but Jjmar notes that the people will now have a little more information when they go to elect deputies — and perhaps that is what those who opposed televising the proceedings feared most.

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