9/11’s legacy: How anti-terrorism laws have become anti-human rights laws

By Kgalalelo Gaebee, Communications Officer at CIVICUS & David Kode, Advocacy and Campaigns Lead for CIVICUS

As the global community commemorates the two decades since the abhorrent attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, it should also be time to reflect on the impact of what followed on human rights and rule of law in Africa. One of the legacies of 9/11 has been government’s use of counter-terrorism laws to target human rights defenders, opposition politicians, and others who express views contrary to those in power.

Many countries in Africa and across the world have used these laws as a pretext to criminalise dissent. Since 2001, there has been a marked increase in restrictions on civil society across Africa, directly correlated to the actions taken by states in the aftermath of the 9/11. Terrorism is typically broadly or vaguely defined in these counter-terrorism bills, and their provisions are frequently misused.

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