Anti-terrorism law passed in El Salvador
The AP reports that El Salvador's National Assembly has passed an anti-terrorism bill:
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador El Salvador's congress on Friday approved a law that allows penalties of up to 86 years in jail for convicted terrorists, a measure opposition forces said was an attempt to repress dissent.
Legislators approved the law following a heated debate that extended into the early hours of Friday. It was strongly opposed by the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front, which fought a 12-year civil war against the government that ended in 1992.
'We don't see this as an international measure,' said Front Rep. Sigifrido Reyes. 'What the right-wing government is doing is planning for a scenario of growing social conflicts, given that its strategy for creating jobs and attracting investments has failed.'
Reyes complained about the law's provision for anonymous witnesses, judges and undercover agents, calling it a 'terrible temptation for repressive actions of an authoritarian nature.'
'Authorities have the discretion to label anything as a terrorist act,' he said.
But Rep. Guillermo Avila of the governing Nationalist Republican Alliance said the law 'isn't about punishing those who disagree with the government; it is to punish criminals; it is against acts that cause fear and threaten the population.'
Alliance Rep. Guillermo Gallegos said the Front's opposition 'doesn't surprise us, because they were on the (U.S.) list of terrorist groups.'
The law spells out 27 acts of terrorism, including the adulteration of medicine, armed occupation of buildings or communities and terrorism-linked spy activities.
In some cases, the law establishes a penalty of 65 years in prison, a sentence that can be increased to 86 years if there are aggravating factors, such as the use of weapons of mass destruction. President Tony Saca must sign the law for it to take effect.