Europe: A Short Guide on Terrorism Offences and Human Rights in the EU

Today, the ICJ published Terrorism offences and human rights in the EU: a short guide aimed at supporting civil society and others advocating for the human rights of people affected by terrorism and counter-terrorism

Across Europe, national laws criminalise a wide range of conduct in the name of countering terrorism. In practice, these laws can affect rights to freedom of movement, expression, association, assembly, privacy, private and family life or the right to political participation. They may be applied in a way that is discriminatory, or through processes involving insufficient procedural safeguards that affect the right to liberty or the right to a fair trial..

This short Guide presents an overview of the international and EU legal framework for the protection of human rights in the application of terrorism-related criminal offences in EU Member States. It particularly addresses the impact on human rights of investigating, prosecuting and trying offences under the EU Directive on combatting terrorism.

The Guide outlines the scope of conduct considered as “terrorism” in international and EU law, as well as international law and standards on the rights of victims of terrorism and of suspects of terrorism-related crimes.

It summarises how international human rights law applies to counter-terrorism criminal law, including in times of crisis, in accordance with principles of legality, necessity and proportionality, and non-discrimination.

The Guide is complemented by the more detailed legal analysis of these issues in Counter-terrorism and human rights in the courts: guidance for judges, prosecutors and lawyers on application of EU Directive 2017/541 on combatting terrorism (the Guidance), published by the ICJ in collaboration with Human Rights in PracticeNederlands Juristen Comité voor de Mensenrechten (NJCM) and Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Pisa in November 2020 as part of the EU JUSTICE project.

Download here: Terrorism offences and human rights in the EU: a short guide

Róisín Pillay, Director Europe and Central Asia Programme; roisin.pillay(a)
Karolína Babická, Legal adviser Europe and Central Asia Programme; karolina.babicka(a)