ANKARA (AA) – Contrary to what some might expect, European Union countries do not have a common definition of “terrorism” and “terrorist acts,” according to a new Justice Ministry report, Anadolu Agency has learned.
The report researched regulations and punishment concerning terrorism, terrorists, and terrorist crimes in EU countries’ laws, amid a European Union demand that Turkey revise its terrorism laws in order to gain access to travel visa-free within the Schengen zone for its citizens.
The report mentioned that the European Parliament passed a framework decision about terrorism after the September 2001 terror attacks in the U.S.
The decision defines terrorism as “seriously intimidating a population; or unduly compelling a Government or international organization to perform or abstain from performing any act; or seriously destabilizing or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organization.”
But there is no common terror law within the scope of EU laws that are implemented in each EU member country, the report says.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Dr. Mehmet Ugur Ekinci of the Turkish-based Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) think-tank said the European Parliament wants Turkey to “clarify” its terrorism law articles that are “open to comment.”
“The European Parliament extended its definition of terrorism after 2008, when security threats intensified, and added chapters like training terrorists and provoking terrorist incidents,” he said. “These are the kind of issues that the European Parliament wants from the Turkish government.”
The Justice Ministry report says the EP’s framework decision on sorting terrorism shows itself in articles and phrases such as “attacks upon a person’s life which may cause death, attacks upon the physical integrity of a person, kidnapping or hostage taking, causing extensive destruction to a Government or public facility, seizure of aircraft, ships or other means of public or goods transport, biological and chemical weapons, and release of dangerous substances, or causing fires, floods or explosions the effect of which is to endanger human life […]”
The decision also defined “terrorist group” as “a structured group of two or more persons, established over a period of time and acting in concert to commit terrorist offenses.”
Managing, supporting, financing, and providing information and material resources for the terrorist organization are punishable in line with the framework decision.
Ekinci said that after 2002, the EP wanted countries to “determine an exact definition of terrorism and figure out a way to also determine the proportion between the crime and punishment.”
“There is no formula to implement European Parliament decisions word by word for every country in the bloc,” he said. “No country can determine an exact formula for implementing such articles. They can either tighten their laws or loosen them depending on the security threat.”
Last week, the European Commission proposed visa-free travel for Turks as part of a deal which would see Turkey stem the refugee flow to Europe in exchange for speeding up the candidate country’s EU membership.
However, among five remaining benchmarks for Turkey to address in order to receive visa-free travel, the EU has demanded a change in Ankara’s legislation on terrorism, deadlocking the visa-free talks.
Ekinci also said that the EP, in “political criteria wise-thinking,” either will “place more importance on the deal between Turkey and the EU on the refugee crisis,” or “the legislative motives behind the visa-free talks.”
“If there is a negative outcome in Turkey’s visa-free travel bid, the [European] Parliament will evaluate the issue again for a second vote,” Ekinci said. “If the outcome still turns out to be negative, than the whole process will go to the starting point again, where the European Commission has to suggest visa-free travel for Turkey to the EP again,” he explained.
– Regulations in EU countries
According to the report, the Netherlands has no separate law for terror crimes and its penal code includes “terrorist intent.”
The Netherlands defines “terrorist intent” as “causing fear in the population or a part of the population of a country, or unlawfully compelling a public authority or international organization to act or to refrain from certain acts or to tolerate certain acts, or of seriously disrupting or destroying the fundamental political, constitutional, economic or social structures of a country or an international organization.”
Austria also lacks a separate law for terror crimes. Terrorism-related acts are included in the country’s penal code, but Austria changed their laws with the spread of global terrorism in 2002 and included a definition or terrorism and terrorist crimes.
Germany lacks an official definition of terrorism or terrorist crimes. “Forming a terrorist organization” is defined in German laws. Legal regulations cover “murdering, deliberate killing, genocide, forming an organization to commit crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes against personal freedom, being a member of a terrorist organization.”
The French Penal Code does not define terror, but explains which acts could be assumed as terrorist crimes. Officers and courts use French law to rule on whether a crime is a terrorist crime.
Belgium does not have a separate anti-terrorism law, as its definitions of “terrorism” and “terrorist” are within its penal code.