[JURIST] The National Assembly of Niger [official website, in French] passed new anti-terrorism legislation Saturday aimed at helping security forces combat the resurgence of an ethnic Tuareg rebellion [BBC backgrounder] that has thrown the West African country into in a state of disarray. The new law passed by parliament increases penalties for possession of explosive devices, attacks on transport vehicles, hostage-taking, and unlawful possession of radioactive materials. Additionally, the legislation punishes financing and recruitment for terrorism and allows authorities to hold suspects for a longer period of time before filing formal charges.
Leaders of the rebel group, the Niger Movement for Justice (MNJ) [group website, in French], have been conducting guerrilla attacks on the central government since early 2007, in an effort to achieve self rule and a greater share of the wealth from uranium exports. Earlier this month, Amnesty International [advocacy website] released a report [text] alleging extrajudicial executions and forced disappearances committed by the Nigerien army against civilians during clashes with Tuareg rebels. The Nigerien government has denied the report. Reuters has more.