Keynote address on human rights in the countering of terrorism

The ICJ’s Director of the International Law and Protection Programmes, Alex Conte, today delivered the keynote address at the launch of the OSCE manual on Human Rights in Counter-Terrorism Investigations.

Responding to the challenges faced by some OSCE participating States in operationalizing human rights when conducting counter-terrorism investigations, the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the OSCE Secretariat’s Transnational Threats Department / Strategic Police Matters Unit jointly developed a manual on Human Rights in Counter-Terrorism Investigations. The manual adopts an operational approach to different phases of counter-terrorism investigations and linking them to relevant human rights standards.

The keynote address focussed on the link between human rights protection and effective counter-terrorism practices; and on how human rights are themselves useful tools to successfully prevent and counter terrorism. It identified five law, policy and practical reasons that human rights compliance is required and/or contributes to the prevention and countering of terrorism:

  • Human rights compliance while countering terrorism is an international obligation, recalling that States’ right and duty to combat terrorism is part of international and regional human rights law stemming from the duty of States to protect individuals under their jurisdiction from interference with their enjoyment of human rights, including the rights to life and security;
  • Human rights compliance at the investigative stage of counter-terrorism cases means that there will be an exponentially greater chance that the precious resources dedicated to terrorist investigations will result in the admissibility of evidence;
  • Human rights compliance at the investigative and pre-trial stages of counter-terrorism cases (considering the impact of prolonged detention without trial or without charge) gives rise to a greater prospect of achieving a sound conviction;
  • Bringing perpetrators of terrorist acts to justice through effective (i.e. human rights-compliant) investigation and prosecution contributes to the realisation for victims of terrorism of their rights to truth and reparation; and
  • Human rights compliance not only assists the short-term objectives of effective counter-terrorism investigations and prosecutions, but is also the essential basis for a sustainable, long-term approach to the countering of terrorism by avoiding further conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism.

ICJ-OSCE-ManualOnHumanRightsInCounterTerrorismInvestigations-LaunchEvent-KeynoteAddress-NonlegalSubmission-2013 (download keynote address in PDF)

OSCE_HRCT_Manual (download manual on Human Rights in Counter-Terrorism Investigations in PDF)

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