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Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Overview of Terrorism
1.1.1 Evolution of Terrorism
1.1.2 Terrorism on a global perspective
1.2 Terrorism and human rights
Terrorism has both direct and indirect effects on human rights. As terrorism becomes more widespread and systematic, it has emerged as a significant threat to human rights throughout the world. Terrorism has evolved from the 70’s to it modern forms which is more organized, financially stable and coordinated, targeting thousands of civilians who are most times casualties’ in cases of kidnappings, murder and sexual abuse; which is a grave violation of human rights. However, despite its real threat to human rights directly, the ways in which it is dealt with by some states and their agencies is critical in ensuring the success of the efforts directed towards anti-terrorism measures. Anti-terrorism measures which do not adhere to the fundamental human rights undermines the efforts in developing effective and practical approaches in countering terrorism. This is because most states have engaged in practices that are directed toward pursuing their interests, thereby violating the same rights that they claim to protect. There is therefore a need for widespread research on the impacts of terrorism on human rights to come up with practical recommendations in protecting these rights through appropriate counter terrorism measures. This article attempts to talk about the impact of terrorism on human rights thereby recommending some of the measures that could be put in place in addressing some of these issues as well as safeguarding human rights.
Chapter 1: Introduction
1.1 Overview of Terrorism
Terrorism is a wide spread social problem whose cost has been felt in every corner of the globe. However, no comprehensive definition of terrorism has been adopted globally and every state or international organization is coming up with varying definitions for terrorism. However, terrorism has several distinctive features that distinguish it from another form of crime. Terrorists have different ideological and political motives, different from criminals of conventional crime. Unlike conventional crime which follows a profile, terrorism is a widespread social problem that has no unique demographic profile. Also, the methods employed terrorists is different from that of conventional crime. Terrorists strives to achieve publicity through their actions rather than financial gain which is usually the motive behind traditional crime. Terrorism is also different from conventional crime through planning and coverage. In most cases, convectional crimes are generally carried out within a nation's border, but terrorism on the other hand is usually cross borders and international focuses on areas that are of political and social significance to their ideology or cause.
Therefore, Terrorism can be defined as acts intended to cause bodily harm or death to any person not involved in hostilities resulting from an armed conflict with a goal of compelling international organizations or governments from preventing or taking necessary action. Therefore, the definition of terrorism shows that terrorism has both political and social motives unlike other forms of crime. A terrorist intention is to intimidate wider audience other than the immediate victims. Hence perpetrators are normally subnational groups or agents. However, the United Nations has extended the definition of terrorism to include actions taken by government entities with political and social motives as terrorism. The UN Council also registered terrorism as a threat to peace regardless of its international effects and severity. According to Schmid, terrorism as defined by the House of Representatives in the United States, is the premeditated and illegitimate threat or violence against people or property by subnational groups aiming at instilling fear on a population. Consequently, the many definitions that exist on terrorism show that most people have an impression of terrorism, but lack a clear and precise definition.
1.1.1 Evolution of Terrorism
Using terror as means of frightening the wider audience and coercing them to an individual behaviour is a century old practice that originates from the era of the Roman Empire. The Romans used full-scale genocide and crucifixion to scare the public into submission to state policies. However, such terror practices have evolved into the modern practices such as those carried out by Nazi Germany and communism or totalitarian regimes, However, over the time, non-state perpetrators have learned to use violence to frighten and coerce their enemies to their course. The first efforts to fight terrorism internationally began in the 1970’s, bringing together different countries to deal with an increased case of aeroplane hijackings and hostage taking crisis. This marked the discussion on the cross-border of terrorism, which however faced a sharp division between the United States and USSR confrontation with opposing ideologies on terrorism.
Terrorism has evolved from once a problem limited to local areas and some nations; thereby significantly gained global face and more strength in the last decade after 9/11 attacks. The tragic events of the 9/11 attacks proved that terrorism is not a problem limited to any country or part of the world, but was accelerating to becoming a global threat. Modern terrorism has become bloodier, developed capable resources and organisations to mount global campaigns by exploiting new communications and strategies. Modern terrorism has become more murderous because the magnitude of terrorist acts and the victims involved have continued to rise. The number of terrorists today has also increased more than a decade ago, hence a more reason for concern. This concern has united the world in the fight against terrorism, with fewer differences between the traditionally Muslim countries which were associated with supporting terrorism becoming part of the international efforts to eliminate terrorism
Terrorism has fast expanded across the globe for some reasons. One is the ability of terrorists to source for new ways to finance their activities. Terrorists have turned to extortion, fraud and even legitimate investment to finance their operations. In addition, contributions from members of their society who believe in their ideology of political/social cause as well as foreign funding sources have played a significant role in keeping many terrorist groups afloat. As terrorists become less dependent on state sponsorship, especially after the end of the cold war and western support for extremist groups for strategic significance declined, terrorists have resulted in new organisational models to make their operations more efficient. Terrorist groups have created more specialised functions that is ideological focus and devoted to training and recruitment, security, logistics, finance as well as propaganda which has made it even more difficult to track the activities they undertake. With such capabilities, terrorists have been able to mount global campaigns on foreign targets away from established bases.
An example is ISIS which has been able to recruit members from all over the world into a global insurgency. It has been able to turn terrorism into a global profitable multinational business, holding and controlling a region bigger than the United Kingdom. By September 2014, the total revenue for ISIS was estimated at $2 billion, which is collected from both legitimate and illegitimate sources. These sources include ransom payments, which ISIS received through kidnapping and estimated to earn the organization $10 million monthly. The other source is taxed, which is the largest source of funding for ISIS such as the right to live taxes paid by Christians, salary taxes, oil sales taxes which have earned the organization an estimated $150 million monthly. In addition, the organization further levies taxes from the manufacturing and mining plants located in their controlled territories which were estimated at $1.3 billion yearly as well as sex and slavery businesses and robbing banks.
Similarly, modern terrorism has expanded beyond recruiting direct members to inspire thousands of self-radicalized followers who have carried separate attacks in different places across the globe, therefore creating a new challenge for counterterrorism efforts. Some of the terrorists involved in the attacks especially in the west such as United States and Europe are residents who have no direct relationship with established international terrorist organizations but are self-inspired and radicalized citizens of the resident countries. Terrorist groups have achieved self-inspired members through a process such as indoctrination, where the public absorbs their ideology such as Jihadi ideology for ISIS in support for their cause.
The rapid evolution and expansion of the modern-day terrorism have been influenced by some factors which include the growth of modern communication systems such as the social media. These terrorist groups have taken aggressive steps to reach more people with their ideology irrespective of the massive efforts that are mounted by social media companies to suspend accounts associated with terrorism. Terrorists have also taken advantage of the porous borders and international systems which are connected through technology such as communications and transit systems thereby taking their ideology to every corner of the globe. Terrorist networks have also evolved to operate as non-state actors, which have given them a broad reach and support when compared to working as individuals. A good example of the terrorist organisations using social media to their advantage is the al-Qaida, which have moved their online presence to social sites such as Facebook, Instagram and tweeter. Social media has become an efficient tool for spreading propaganda and psychological welfare for modern-day terrorist organisations. Unlike the traditional media, the social media is more interactive, usable and immediate, offering terrorism organisations an advantage to publish their information for easy access by the public.
1.1.2 Terrorism on a global perspective
In 2014, more than 16,800 terrorist attacks took place in different areas across the globe leading to the deaths of more than 43,500 people and injuries to more than 40,900. This accounts for a total of 1,137 in December terrorist attacks in 2014 and a maximum of 1729 in July according to statistics from the global terrorism database. Most of the attacks took place in specific locations mainly in the Middle East, mostly in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq which accounted for more than 47% of the total attacks and 60% of the total fatalities. An overview of the atrocities committed by terrorists from the global terrorism database shows that 24% of all the deaths in 2014 resulted from perpetrated attacks from leading terrorist organizations that include ISIS, ISIL, Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram and Al-Qaida. Similarly, the number of hostages taken in 2014, showed a significant increase from the past years to 11,821, which was four times higher than the average yearly number of hostages taken by terrorists since 1970-2014. ISIL and Boko Haram alone were responsible for more than 6,000 deaths in 2013, with ISIL taking more than 3,000 hostages.
The number of countries according to the number of attacks and fatalities from terrorism is shown in table 1 below. As the table indicates, most of the cases were in Iraq with 3,925 cases and 13,076 cases of total fatalities and least in Kenya with 115 cases of attacks and 315 cases of deaths. The data in table 1 shows that Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan experienced the highest number of terrorist attacks. The percentage of deaths in countries like Ukraine shows a rise in conflict experienced by the country has led to the corresponding number of terrorist acts. The terrorist acts in Ukraine targeted the military (55%), while 15% were directed towards the civilian population and property. Another target by terrorist activities in Ukraine targeted government buildings, the police national infrastructure and media at 6%, 5%, 4% & 4% respectively. The same is the case for Israel and Sudan according to the percentage change in the number of fatalities, especially from perpetrated deaths.
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Figure 1: Table Showing countries and total number and total fatalities in 2014(source: START, 2015)
From the above table, it could be said that the primary targets of these terrorists’ attacks are both military and civilian targets. Countries like Israel had a large percentage of attacks targeting military targets (61%), with the most active terrorist organization perpetrating the attacks being Hamas, accounting for 51% of the attacks. Other terrorist’s organizations in the region targeting Israel include the Ansar Baty al Maqdis which accounted for 10% of the total attacks targeting Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad accounting for 10% of the terrorist acts targeting Israel. Also, the table also shows that the number of attacks in the year 2014 decreased for countries such as Thailand, Lebanon and Pakistan including the total number of fatalities.
However, Sudan, cold be seen as a primary targets of terrorists where the civilian population and property are targeted accounting for 39% and refugee camps which accounted for 15%. Military objectives for terrorism made up of 7% with the most active terrorist group responsible for the attacks in the region being the Janjaweed militia. Suicide bombings formed the largest percentage of perpetrators accounting for 39%. Table 2 below shows the perpetrators from the leading active terrorist organizations that were very active in 2014. Information for the table indicates that ISIL is the largest terrorist organization going by the number of perpetrated attack recorded with 1,263 attacks, followed by Taliban with 1038 cases and al-Shabaab by 865 cases. Book Haram is the fourth leading terrorist organization globally going by the number of attacks carried by in 2014 as well as the number of fatalities.
Comparing with the previous year, the number of attacks perpetrated by the leading terrorist organization shows a significant increase regarding percentage. In Ukraine, the leading terrorist organisation which is the Luhansk people’s republic and the Donetsk people’s republic was involved in bombings, armed assaults, kidnappings and infrastructural attack accounting for 38%, 31%, 15% and 9% respectively according to the number of attacks reported in the country.
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Figure 2: Table Showing countries and total number of attacks and total fatalities in 2014 from leading perpetrator terrorist organisations (source: START, 2015)
Alongside the increased number of attacks and deaths attributed to terrorism, the number of hostages held by various terrorist organisations across the globe has also continued to rise in the last decade. The year 2014 experienced the highest number of hostages accounting for 1400 cases with more than 11800 people held hostage. This in comparison to the number of hostages held in the previous years from the year 2005-2014, which was a 225% increase also from 1970-2005 for 149 cases showed a rising trend in the number of people held as hostages from various terrorist organisations across the world. The number of fatalities during the hostage taking attacks by terrorists have also been on the rise, with 1091 cases ending with hostages being killed and 1118 cases where hostages were released.
A map by the global terrorist database from 2015 in fig 3 shows that similarly to 2014, terrorism remained concentrated in the Middle East, which accounted for about 78% of the total terrorist related deaths in 2014. Although the course of terrorism in the next few years may be difficult to establish or predict, and evaluation of its evolution shows it’s a global threat that requires effective measures for it to be eliminate. Information from the department of state, an overview reports on terrorism in 2015, indicates that terrorism evolved to be more decentralized and diffuse, with the Islamic state of Iraq (ISIL) remaining the greatest terrorism organization globally. The primary source of funding for their activities included kidnapping for ransom, smuggling of oil, donations from foreign followers and human trafficking. Their attacks in 2015 were directed towards France, Lebanon and Turkey, which demonstrate its capability to carry out organized attacks in countries beyond their borders.
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Figure 3: World Map showing terrorist attacks in 2015
In the whole of the Middle East, ISIL has also been involved in some attacks in Libya, Egypt, Syria and Pakistan targeting civilians’ transportation systems such as the assault on the Russian Jet in October 2015, killing 224 passengers on board. With coordination with other smaller terrorist groups in the region with similar ideologies and goals, such as the Nigerian based terrorist organization, Boko Haram and Al-Shabaab, they have expanded to become a significant threat globally. This substantial expansion of terrorism to the international levels has forced countries to give priority to terrorism threat and come up with alternative ways to counter terrorism comprehensively at the international scale. The attacks initiated the development of anti-terror laws both at national and international levels. The United Nations Security Council has also strengthened the legal counter terrorism efforts internationally through several binding resolutions created in post 9/11 attacks. The resolutions are also useful in addressing state sponsorship of terrorism especially in the Middle East countries and the Muslim world.
1.2 Terrorism and human rights
One of the major factors that have led to significant efforts directed to fighting terrorism is its impacts on human rights. According to the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, terrorism has a real and direct impact on human rights. Terrorism has extensive consequences on right of life, physical integrity and liberty. Also, it destabilizes governments, therefore, pose as a threat to security and peace, as well as threatening social and economic development, therefore hindering humans to enjoy their human rights. Crimes committed by terrorist groups are a violation of human rights which are person is entitled to.
According to the international law on human rights, all forms of racial discrimination, discrimination against women, torture and degrading human beings and rights to the child have been adopted by various treaties within the international human rights law. Therefore, terrorism, which usually employs the use of violence especially on the civilian population is no doubt a great violation of human rights. It violates all the provisions provided by the international human rights law and other laws as it deprives humans enjoying their fundamental rights such as the right to life. An analysis of the effects of terrorism shows that terrorist acts have contributed to a massive number of casualties which violates the victims’ rights to life. The right to life is a fundamental human right which is not only violated by terrorist organizations but also some state agencies in their counter terrorism efforts. According to the international law, torture that is sometimes carried out by terrorism organizations is a violation to the international law as well as by states which use torture as a means of fighting terrorism. Similarly, holding hostages as done by terrorist organisations denies people their fundamental rights to freedom and liberty. This is a violation of international law on basic human rights. Information from the U.S department of state shows that Both ISIL and al-Qaida increased their targets to civilian casualties such as attacks on hotels and public places with the aim of instilling fear in the audience alongside their ideologies. The ISIL terrorist organization conducted a systematic abuse of human rights through ill-treatment and rape of thousands of women ranging from as low as eight years. Other actions carried out by the extremist group which violated fundamental human rights including forced marriages, domestic servitude, physical and sexual abuse. Also, ISIL established markets where women and children were sold through price tags as female slaves. In the same case, the book Haram terrorist organization operating in Nigeria abducted women and girls in the northern part of the country, forcing them into sexual servitude, forced labor and forced marriages to the members of their organization. Terrorist’s organization such as ISIL and its affiliated groups have on several occasions forcefully used women and children as suicide bombers in their terrorist attacks. According to the human rights watch, ISIL, which was listed as ISIS to reflect its expansion regarding operating area has on several occasions been involved in the human rights abuses. The organization kidnapped 800-900 children who were forced into military and religious training to advance their agenda. Also, the organization has also resulted in an indiscriminate chemical attack which has seen the death of several civilians. The group also has violated the rights of women and girls on their freedom and liberty by restricting the clothes they wear as well as their movements. Similarly, ISIS has introduced discriminatory policies which discriminate people based on their religion and gender. For instance, girls were banned from attending schools in ISIS controlled areas as well as accessing healthcare. The organization has raped, torture and murder millions of women especially Christians and Yezidi women, which are violations of human rights. The threat of terrorism to security which is a basic human right makes it an obligation of every government to take positive counter-terrorism measures. However, at times, these steps adopted by governments to ensure the security of their nationals is also a violation of other rights such as liberty and freedom through torture and detention of suspected terrorists. The lack of adherence to fundamental human rights in the fight against terrorism by state agencies has led to the rise of discontented groups in the society whose families and friends have had their rights violated. This has significantly weakening public support which is essential in developing effective anti-terrorism measures. The consequences of violating fundamental human rights in the fight against terrorism are counterproductive in the efforts of developing effective anti-terrorism measures, as they give groups an opportunity to recruit the discounted members of the society, further weakening the crucial public support and unity required to make positive progress in the war against terror. According to human rights watch organization, the efforts by the government forces in Iraq and Syria against ISIS has led to civilian casualties through airstrikes, disappearances, torture of suspected terrorist supporter by government troops and even executions. Both actions by the administration and the terrorist organizations have consequently led to misplacement of millions of people from their residences, which is a violation of their fundamental rights to access shelter. Furthermore, journalists reporting on the anti-terrorism efforts have been killed or kidnapped by the terrorist organization, which is a violation of their fundamental human rights.
Terrorism has evolved from becoming widespread and systematic to becoming a direct and indirect threat to human rights. Since 1970 when instances of modern terrorism such as plane hijackings and terrorist bombings began to emerge, terrorist organisations have evolved as more complex, financially stable to carry coordinated attacks almost in every place in the globe. The 9/11 attacks show that terrorism is not a problem limited to only middle east countries, but worldwide. Dealing with terrorism is more challenging than that of conventional crime. This is because terrorist do not follow a social and demographic profile that is followed by conventional crime or warfare. Terrorism aims to achieve publicity as well as social or political gains, therefore making it harder to eliminate. Therefore, terrorist organisations such as ISIS have managed to attract huge followers with their ideologies as a global insurgency. However, they have been accused of widespread violations of human rights through rape, kidnappings and even murder. Similarly, other global terrorist organisations have been responsible for civilian deaths with the number of fatalities attributed to terrorism also increasing. Dealing with terrorism, therefore, requires diverse approaches both by the state agencies in their anti-terrorism measures to ensure the protection of human rights. International institutions such as the United Nations should also consider coming with defined procedures on anti-terrorism measures to avoid violation of fundamental human rights. Moreover, coordination between all governments worldwide is essential to deter the spread of terrorism and their ideas across the world, with more effort put into crippling terrorist operations such as communication, finance structure, access to weapons rather than through violent combat to protect human rights.
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