International jurists on human rights and (counter-)terrorism

By EDRi · October 20, 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

Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights

ICJ Berlin declaration (28.08.2004)