Counter-terrorism and human rights | European Voice
This excerpt is from a piece written by Denmark’s foreign minister, the EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator and the United Nations special rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. It stands in start contrast to the direction US counter terrorism is taking. I will be adding this to my “we’re not all like that” collection to highlight those in the international community who do uphold democratic values and universal human rights in their counter terrorism strategies.
The EU has, regrettably, extensive experience with terrorism going back well before the rise of al-Qaeda. We promote a criminal justice approach to our response.
Terrorists should be duly investigated, prosecuted and convicted according to the ordinary rules of criminal law. Ordinary criminal courts have a strong track record in dealing with terrorism cases: law-enforcement investigations have been crucial in gaining information about terrorist networks and disrupting plots. Fair trials in regular criminal courts have put hundreds of terrorists behind bars.
Treating terrorists as criminals and not ‘warriors’ takes the false glamour out of terrorism. A public court hearing provides visible justice to the victims and their families, whose rights are specifically recognised by the strategy of the United Nations. Indefinite or even secret detention of terrorist suspects without charge or trial is not only against our values and unlawful, but also provides distorted arguments to terrorists.
EU member states have developed some of the most comprehensive criminal justice procedures to respond to the terrorist threat. We have a common definition of terrorism and we treat terrorist acts as criminal offences. Cross-border co-operation in investigations and prosecutions, while respecting human rights, have been strengthened, going far beyond traditional mutual legal assistance.