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Gov't calls for parliamentary endorsement of anti-terrorism bills

All News 09:23 January 20, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 20 (Yonhap) -- The government renewed its call on Wednesday for the parliamentary approval of anti-terrorism bills to protect the lives of South Koreans, citing growing threats of terrorism around the world.

In addition to the first bill proposed by the government in 2011 following the 9/11 attacks, a number of anti-terrorist bills are currently pending in the National Assembly.

However, the bills have not yet been put to a full floor vote due to strong dissent from the opposition party on concern about giving more authority to the National Intelligence Service (NIS), South Korea's top spy agency.

"There have been needless battles at the National Assembly for the past 15 years," said Kim Soo-min, a senior NIS official who participated in the government-ruling party meeting. "The anti-terrorism bills are designed to protect lives of the people and should not be the subject of a bargaining tool."

The anti-terrorism bills have gained new momentum following the deadly attacks in Paris last year as the Saenuri Party and opposition parties agreed to begin discussions for the swift passage.

"Collecting information is vital to punishing those who take part in terrorist acts or organize or join terrorist groups," Kim said.

Kim refuted the claim that the bills infringe upon citizens' basic rights and that enhanced surveillance violates the right to privacy.

Second Vice Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul, who participated in the meeting, also voiced that the passage of the bills is important, citing last week's attack by the Islamic State in Jakarta.

"Pre-emptively detecting and preventing the threat should be viable in order to effectively deal with terrorist attacks," Cho said, adding that the bills would allow the government to come up with more elaborate countermeasures.

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