Nahla Abdel Moneim
International terrorism continues to present relatively recent security problems, amid countries’ fears of producing new laws that are compatible with the emerging challenges in this file without violating human rights or the constitutional standards established in Western societies.
Recently, the discussion about this problem has escalated in Canada due to the release of some terrorist convicts from prisons before the end of their sentences based on rehabilitation programs or materials that allow defendants to be released from prison before their term if they pass mandatory tests.
Canadian law is specific about the conditional release file, and the law allows prisoners to be released for a full day, during which they face the world freely, and then return to prison after the expiration of this period or they are placed in homes designated as psychological and community rehabilitation centers for convicts, as a start for their early release. By law, these articles are also applied to terrorists, without distinction from criminals, amid some fears that this is not suitable for extremists, while some fear that this will be modified in a way that harms the values of society.
Al-Qaeda elements roam the streets
On May 24, Hiva Alizadeh, 43, received a one-day release from prison, after which he returned to a specialized rehabilitation center in Toronto to complete his rehabilitation period to deal with society. In 2014, Alizadeh had received a 24-year prison sentence for his involvement in recruitment for al-Qaeda through a cell in Ottawa, and he was also involved in making bombs and teaching this to his followers.
Alizadeh obtained this advantage as a result of the decision of the Parole Board in Canada after his pledge that he would tell extremists that they were wrong and that he would abide by the law. The recent decision was accompanied by a wave of controversy at home about the feasibility of applying conditional release to extremists.
Alizadeh, who was born in Iran, moved to Canada in 2002 and obtained his citizenship in 2007, but then he returned to Iran in 2009 and from there to Afghanistan to join a training camp for militants under the leadership of al-Qaeda, receiving extensive training on weapons and explosives. He then returned to Canada in the same year to recruit people for the terrorist organization, establishing a network in the country, and the security services were able to arrest him later.
Problem of laws
These events renew the discussion about the problem of updating laws in line with the challenges of terrorism, and whether those convicted of extremism should enjoy legal benefits that allow them freedom after short periods or even during their imprisonment, as well as the relationship of this to the possibility of their involvement in networks seeking to restore communication between the convicts in the West and extremist leaders to create networks within prisons.
From another angle, there are those who consider that amending laws in a way that deprives any prisoner of the rights that are currently guaranteed to him puts the humanity of the country in a difficult test that may lead it over time to amend other laws that some politicians may manipulate to restrict freedoms under the weight of the possibilities of the rise of currents to power whose appreciation of freedom differs.
Many Western countries resorted to changing their laws on terrorism during recent years, most notably Britain, which faced great challenges while dealing with the file of ISIS returnees, as it wanted to strip them of their nationality without notifying them, in addition to doubling the prison term for those involved in terrorism. Switzerland also amended its counterterrorism laws and has come under severe criticism regarding the inconsistency of some articles of the new law with the values of freedom and humanity.