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International jurists on human rights and (counter-)terrorism

20 October, 2005

Today the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has launched a new 18 month panel on terrorism, counter-terrorism and human rights. "The legal community worldwide must now take a leadership role in articulating how the rule of law can be respected in addressing terrorism in its many complex global and local forms." The ICJ has formulated 10 legal and policy issues the panel should address. One of them addresses the issue of blanket electronic surveillance: "Do we need to have intrusive surveillance of public places and transports, data on travel, phone calls and Internet use in order to protect people from terrorism?" Other issues are freedom of speech (How can we criminalise incitement to violence without eroding freedom of speech, the press and religion?), discrimination (how to increase security without discriminating, alienating and marginalising minority communities?) and the boundaries of military law. In 18 countries and regions all over the world hearings will be organised. Europe will be covered by the hearing in the United Kingdom.

In August 2004, the ICJ brought together 160 jurists of all regions in the city of its birth, Berlin, and adopted the Berlin Declaration on Upholding Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Combating Terrorism. This declaration set out 11 principles that states should respect when countering terrorism. The introduction provides a clear explanation of the need for those principles: "The odious nature of terrorist acts cannot serve as a basis or pretext for states to disregard their international obligations, in particular in the protection of fundamental human rights. A pervasive security-oriented discourse promotes the sacrifice of fundamental rights and freedoms in the name of eradicating terrorism."

Founded in Berlin in 1952, the ICJ is a global network of judges, lawyers and human rights defenders united by international law and rule of law principles that advance human rights. The ICJ is best known for its network of 60 Commissioners. It has 37 national sections and 45 affiliated organisations.

Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights (19.10.2005)

ICJ Berlin declaration (28.08.2004)



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