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Canada to criminalise terror calls

Tough new laws announced by Canada will make it a crime to call for a terror attack and allow police to detain anyone suspected of being involved in a plot without charge for up to seven days.

The measures are aimed at boosting the powers of the country's spy agency to thwart attacks directly.

Work to toughen the law began in October after a gunman killed a soldier at Canada's national war memorial in Ottawa before storming parliament. The attack came two days after a man said to be inspired by the Islamic State (IS) group, ran over two soldiers in a car park in Quebec, killing one and injuring the other before being shot dead.

The moves still have to be approved by parliament, but prime minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government has a majority of the seats so passage is all but ensured.

Under the current law it is a crime to make a specific threat, but the new measures will criminalise calling for general terror attacks on Canada or to promote or advocate others to carry out terrorism elsewhere.

"We cannot tolerate this any more than we tolerate people that make jokes about bomb threats at airports," Mr Harper said. "Anyone engaging in that kind of activity is going to face the full force of the law in the future."

The penalty will carry a maximum of five years in prison and authorities will also be able to remove terror-related material from any Canadian website.

Mr Harper said jihadists had declared war on Canada and it would be a grave mistake to ignore their threats.

"Over the last few years a great evil has been descending upon our world, an evil that has been growing more and more powerful, violent jihadism," he said.

Under the current law those suspected of being involved in a terror plot can be detained for up to three days. The new law extends that to seven days provided police obtain a judge's permission.

The new law will also allow the Canadian Security Intelligence Service to approach terror suspects directly in order to disrupt their plans. It is currently permitted to collect only intelligence and pass the information to police.

The spy agency will now be able to cancel plane or other travel reservations made by Canadians suspected of being involved in terrorism. The new activities will require approval by a judge.

Police already have many of these powers that CSIS will acquire, but the government wanted the spy agency to be able to act quickly if it sees a threat.

But Kent Roach, a law professor at the University of Toronto, said making it a crime to encourage terrorism would probably not hold up in court because it was too vague.

"There is a potential that it will chill expression," he said. "It could be seen as disproportionately targeting the Muslim community and expressions of general support for terrorism in some parts of the world."

Justice minister Peter MacKay said it targeted those who advocated terrorism with intent and did not deal with glorification.

He said his government wanted to work with other countries to remove terrorist material coming from websites outside Canada.

"We need to work towards a system that will allow for the removal or at least the blocking of information that is provocative and that is aimed at promoting terrorism," Mr MacKay said.

"That will require international protocols and a greater level of co-operation with our international partners."


From Belfast Telegraph