The report states that while terrorist attacks have caused thousands of deaths and injuries, that is no justification for counterterrorism laws that violate the basic rights of suspects and that are also used for politically motivated purposes.
During a protest in Turkey in 2010, two students unfurled a banner that read, “We want free education, we will get it.” For this act and participation in other non-violent political protests, the students were convicted of membership in an armed group and sentenced in 2012 to eight years and five months in prison.
In recent years, Turkish authorities have prosecuted hundreds of activists for participating in such protests. In the United Kingdom from 2007 to 2011, police stopped and searched more than half a million people—including railway enthusiasts, children, and photographers—without reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing.
Most of those searched were ethnic minorities. None was found guilty of a terrorism-related offense. In Ethiopia, a federal court in January 2012 convicted three local journalists and two political opposition members of conspiracy to commit terrorist acts and participation in a terrorist organization.
The evidence consisted primarily of online articles critical of the government and telephone discussions regarding peaceful protest actions. The authorities denied all five defendants access to counsel during three months in pretrial detention and failed to investigate allegations that two of the journalists had been tortured.