We live in the Era of suspicion; a world that no longer penalizes only criminal acts. Instead, it now criminalizes freedom.
We also live in a time of deceit, where the deceivers use a wide range of tools to cheat people into submission via propaganda and mind control.
An attitude, a behaviour or a religious tendency are enough to obtain an order to spy one someone without a warrant or to invade someone’s home, to make an extrajudicial arrest or to mount a raid with heavily armed vehicles and thuggish looking, steroid-head cops.
The above cited scenarios are more common than ever before, and none of them needs the blessing or authorisation of the judicial powers. It is enough to invoke National Security to unlock the full powers of a totalitarian state.
The type of aggression described before has been blooming in many countries as the rights of the people and the rule of law are eliminated and where more power is given to administrative authorities, that directly controlled governments. These are the new judges, juries and executioners.
What do government officials give as an excuse for all this? The new terrorism and, in some cases, the threat of refugees.
These are the most listened to and most repeated response among politicians that promote and endorse new laws that support so-called states of emergency under which, the law is suspended until further notice.
The accelerating loss of constitutional and human rights around the world, especially in western countries is what has prompted defenders of those rights to gather and talk about the fast thinning thread on which freedom hangs nowadays.
The latest cases of erosion of constitutional and civil rights have taken place in Europe. One example is Poland, which despite not having suffered any terrorist attack in history, it does suffer from politicians and their proposals to create laws to combat terrorists that, if approved, will limit the freedom of citizens.
Croatia was all in favor of letting in thousands of so-called refugees until public attacks against German women took place on New Year’s Eve. Those attacks changed the perception of many Croatians who began to see those forced to leave their homes by the cruelest of wars, as barbarians and rapists.
Those are two reactions from governments and citizens who now see the arrival of millions of people, who will not be assimilated into any western society, but who may pose a threat to people in many countries in Europe.
The latest attacks in Paris and Brussels made it clear that the governments want a change of strategy to deal with the new terrorism, which is no longer nationalist or revolutionary, but homegrown terrorism committed by people who are second or third generation
French citizens, for example, or by others who entered the continent as refugees along with their radicalised vision of the world.
In this context, many governments are tempted to restrict fundamental rights and freedoms to fight the ‘new enemy’.
France has been one of the countries hardest hit by this barbarity. And the policy response is taking its toll on the citizens.
In order to avoid this threat that is seen as an international one, governments shoot first and ask questions later. They promote and approve laws that criminalise acts, behaviours or attitudes,” that are normal but that the government now deems suspicious.
They are passing laws that punish mere suspicion and the authorities are doing it without any limitations. This situation is now considered dangerous due to the close relationship between these powers with authority to maintain security and supranational entities who are not elected but appointed.
Since the attacks of November in Paris, defenders of constitutional right in France have registered eighty complaints from simple citizens who have had their rights violated and their freedoms disrespected by police, who persecute average citizens with the power of the new laws that were approved by the government and that continue to be applied during the ongoing ‘state of emergency’.
Should we base security policies on fear? Are we at war and is everything allowed under a war-like situation? These are some of the questions being asked by the public in France and Belgium today.
The ideal way to keep the balance between security and freedom “is the principle of proportionality”, says the Ombudsman of Portugal, José de Faria Costa.
Costa says that such balance does not include actions by police that violate a person’s rights, such as spying on private communications without judicial authorisation.
Adam Bodnar, a Polish ombudsman, shows his concern about “increasing secret police organisations whose financing is unlimited but who, at the same time, are not accountable to anyone.
His colleague in Estonia, Ülle Madise, adds another concern in this new and unknown era of suspicion. “That big brother who watches everything is not always a government. We must care a lot about very well organised groups or programmers who have the tools to collect and store all kinds of private data“.
The risk to these new security threats is that measures that initially would have to be ephemeral are slowly but surely becoming permanent. Once police state measures are imposed on a society under the excuse that they are there to keep people safe, it is very hard to roll them back.
Citizens of France and Brussels know exactly what this feels like. They have been suffering for months now from the consequences of laws and regulations that affect their freedoms and fundamental rights as people.
The state of emergency remains in force and in the French case this situation is expected to continue at least until the end of July, but it is expected that the French government will extend it into the future.
Something similar is seen on the horizon for other countries in the European continent. In addition to the EU Parliament, some countries use the threat of terrorism or conflict with refugees for other purposes that have nothing to do with these problems.
This is adventurous to say the least, says Adam Bodnar, who predicts that Poland may have other intentions with the proposed adoption of an anti-terrorism law despite not having suffered any attack in its history by jihadist groups.
“With this rule, if it is finally implemented, the police would, for example, have the power to dissolve an assembly or demonstration”, he warns. What does demonstrating in public have to do with terrorism?
The answer is rather simple. Governments take advantage of anything when the detect any type of organisation that has nothing to do with terrorism, but that goes against the established power.