Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1291571
 


 



The Curious Element of Motive in Definitions of Terrorism: Essential Ingredient - Or Criminalising Thought?


Ben Saul


University of Sydney - Faculty of Law

October, 29 2008

LAW AND LIBERTY IN THE WAR ON TERROR, A. Lynch, E. MacDonald, & G. Williams, eds., pp. 28-38, Federation Press, Sydney, 2007
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/123

Abstract:     
Controversy has erupted in many jurisdictions about the inclusion of a motive element in the criminal law definition of terrorism, in particular whether reference to a political, religious or ideological purpose or cause unjustifiably interferes in freedom of expression and freedom of religion, or invites racial or religious discrimination. This article argues that a compelling reason for including a motive element in an international or domestic definition of terrorist offences is that it helps to differentiate terrorism from other kinds of serious violence which may also generate fear (such as common assault, armed robbery, rape, or murder), while also according with commonplace public understanding of what constitutes terrorism. As such, the criminal law should recognise this distinction in defining terrorism, so as to more accurately express what is considered by the international and national communities to be distinctively wrongful about terrorism. Inevitably, this view reflects judgments of policy, politics and ethics, which may not be shared by all; but it is the critical impulse underlying arguments for including motive in definitions of terrorism.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 10

Keywords: terrorism, motive, definition, criminal law, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, discrimination, human rights

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K30, K33

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Date posted: October 31, 2008  

Suggested Citation

Saul, Ben, The Curious Element of Motive in Definitions of Terrorism: Essential Ingredient - Or Criminalising Thought? (October, 29 2008). LAW AND LIBERTY IN THE WAR ON TERROR, A. Lynch, E. MacDonald, & G. Williams, eds., pp. 28-38, Federation Press, Sydney, 2007; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 08/123. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1291571

Contact Information

Ben Saul (Contact Author)
University of Sydney - Faculty of Law ( email )
Faculty of Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.usyd.edu.au/about/staff/BenSaul/index.shtml
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