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Editorial: Gov’t’s claim that “anti-conspiracy law” necessary for UNTOC accession invalid

  • June 8, 2017
  • , Tokyo Shimbun , p. 5
  • JMH Translation

In connection with the “anti-conspiracy law,” one of the authors of the legislative guide for the UN Convention against Organized Transnational Crime (UNTOC) told Tokyo Shimbun that “the treaty’s purpose is not to prevent terrorism.” The very foundation of the government’s argument is no longer valid. This law must not be passed with sheer numerical strength.


The government has maintained that passing a law on the “crime of conspiracy” is necessary for Japan to accede to UNTOC, while the opposition asserts that accession is possible even under the existing legal framework. The two sides have failed to close this gap.


Furthermore, the “crime of conspiracy” in previous bills has been changed to the “crime of preparing to commit terrorist acts” because Prime Minister Shinzo Abe argues that counterterrorism measures are necessary ahead of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games.


Yet, this explanation is totally incompatible with the spirit of UNTOC.


Nikos Passas, a scholar of criminal law who was involved with drafting the UNTOC legislative guide, said: “The treaty’s purpose is not to prevent terrorism.” He pointed to the terrorist attack in central London on June 3 and noted that “the UK has long been a UNTOC member, but terrorism cannot be prevented by acceding to the treaty alone.” He also warned that “the treaty must not be used to justify the passage of new laws.”


Passas explained that UNTOC “targets international crimes by organized criminal groups aimed at earning profits, and terrorism is not covered by this treaty.” He added that “certain undemocratic countries sometimes regard protests against the government as a crime, so we excluded ideology-based crimes.”


In other words, the logic of the government’s explanation on the “crime of preparing to commit terrorist acts” is completely incomprehensible to this author of the UNTOC legislative guide.


Even without enacting a new law on the “crime of conspiracy,” there should be ways to meet the requirements for acceding to UNTOC under existing laws or by amending these laws.


Above all, it is of great significance that Passas stated that “the treaty does not seek the introduction of investigation methods that violate privacy.” UN special rapporteur Joe Canatacci has also pointed out that the “anti-conspiracy law” “may impose restrictions on privacy.”


Extensive surveillance is the only way to crack down on crimes before they are committed. This is a very serious problem because the investigative authorities may possibly violate privacy. We cannot possibly overlook this issue.



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