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Database of Legislation on the Definition of Terrorism

The Human Rights Initiative (HRI) at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) created an international consortium (iCon) of scholars and experts from around the world to conduct research and develop concrete recommendations on how best to address and push back on closing space around civil society. The ultimate goal of iCon is to develop evidence-based solutions that enhance the resilience and sustainability of civil society and broaden constituencies for human rights.

To advance this goal, iCon is seeking to better understand the impact of counterterrorism legislation and legal frameworks on the work of civil society. Anecdotal evidence from around the world suggests that overly broad and vague definitions of terrorism have given governments the latitude to crack down on civil society within the bounds of the law. Yet, there is no systematic data demonstrating the scope of the problem.

As a first step, iCon has created a database of countries’ laws defining terrorism and penalties associated with committing or supporting acts of terrorism. This database includes counterterrorism legislation, anti-money laundering and combating financing of terrorism legislation, criminal codes, NGO laws, and any other relevant domestic legislation in place that has a bearing on the way that the country defines terrorism and punishes those responsible for terrorist acts. In particular, iCon is interested in capturing how counterterrorism laws infringe on or protect fundamental human rights, including freedom of assembly, association, and/or expression. This information will be used to develop recommendations to safeguard the legitimate space for peaceful civil society actors, while addressing the real threat of terrorism.

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