War on terror's fear dividend

December 23, 2005

Higher education unions meeting in Melbourne this month expressed concern over anti-terrorism laws in the UK, Canada, Australia and the US, reports Geoff Maslen

New and proposed anti-terrorism laws are already having a serious impact on democracy and academic freedom, leaders of the world's higher education unions say.

Meanwhile, academics in the US are continuing to grapple with laws introduced in the aftermath of September 11, 2001.

At an Education International conference in Melbourne this month, education union leaders from around the globe noted the legislation enacted or before parliaments in many countries.

Universities are already being affected and scholars are being influenced in how they carry out their work.

During the conference, British, Australian, Canadian and Malaysian officials presented examples of academics and students who had been threatened and sometimes imprisoned under the laws. They warned that this was likely to cause scholarly self-censorship.

The conference was organised for the higher education division of Education International, the federation representing 348 education unions worldwide.

More than 60 delegates from 32 countries were present.

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