The national parliament of Chad has unanimously approved a rigorous anti-terrorism bill that reintroduces the death penalty just six months after its abolition.
Along with reinstating capital punishment, the new law—passed Thursday by a vote of 146 out of 146—beefs up prison sentences and gives the police greater leeway in cases of suspected terrorism.
Penalties for less serious terror offences have been increased to life from the previous maximum of 20 years, and police may now hold terror suspects without charge for 30 days, renewable twice, up from 48 hours prior to the bill.
Opposition groups and civil liberties associations have criticized the new legislation, saying it could be used to curtail civil rights.
On June 17, Chad banned the wearing of burqas, or full-face veil, after two Boko Haram suicide bombers killed more than 30 people. Despite the ban, on July 11 a male suicide bomber dressed in a burqa blew himself up in the capital’s main market, killing 15 people.
Chad has suffered two suicide bombings in the last month, and last week, Boko Haram slaughtered 16 Christian fisherman in northern Nigeria, all of whom were citizens of Chad, by slitting their throats.
Earlier last week, authorities announced the creation of a new 8,700-man regional task force to fight against the jihadist group Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people in the region.
The Multi-National Joint Task Force is made up of troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Benin.
“Any moment from now, the operations or the Task Force will be manifest. In other words, we may not tell you, you will just see it,” said Nigeria’s military spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade.
Chad’s new anti-terrorism legislation thus forms part of an ongoing attempt to draft the measures necessary to effectively put a halt to Islamist atrocities.
The secretary general of the government, Abdoulaye Sabre Fadoul, said that the executive remains in favor of abolishing the death penalty in principle, but revised its position taking into account “public concern.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome