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Human Rights Group Criticizes Bangladesh's New Anti-Terrorism Laws

  • VOA News

Human Rights Watch is urging Bangladesh's government to repeal or amend its new anti-terrorism laws, saying they violate fundamental freedoms.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the group's Asia director (Brad Adams) says the laws sweep far too broadly, disregarding normal standards of proof and establishing harsh penalties for anyone who publicly expresses support for a banned organization.

New York-based Human Rights Watch says it is shocking that such important laws could be enacted in what it calls "the shadows, without public input."

Bangladesh's government approved the new anti-terrorism legislation in May to, according to officials, better define acts of terrorism.

The laws define terrorism as any act that poses a threat to the sovereignty, unity, integrity or security of Bangladesh or creates widespread panic.

Hostage taking, death threats, physical assault and murder can all be considered acts of terrorism.

Under the new legislation, anyone found to be involved in terrorist activities could get from three to 20 years in prison, or the death sentence.

Bangladesh began drafting the new laws after being hit by a series of terrorist attacks in recent years. USofficials have praised the Bangladeshi government's efforts to fight terrorism.

Our reporter Zahurul Alam has more on this

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