Blogs | Privacy and data protection | Freedom of expression online

European Parliament – fighting terrorism with closed-door secrecy

By EDRi · February 7, 2018

The European Parliament’s Special Committee on Terrorism (TERR) was established on 6 July 2017, for a renewable twelve-month mandate. The Committee was created with the ambitious aim of addressing ostensible practical and legislative deficiencies in the fight against terrorism across the European Union (EU) and with international actors.

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Among its core functions, the TERR Committee is supposed to propose measures to enable the EU and its Member States to prevent, investigate and prosecute crimes related to terrorism, as well as to assess the impact of the EU anti-terrorism measures on fundamental rights.

Halfway through its mandate, is the TERR Committee delivering on fundamental rights?

It is hard to know what the Committee actually does as, already in its first meeting, it was announced that the majority of the meetings would be held in camera, that is, behind closed doors. The Committee is holding a few meetings in public, but these give no sense of the direction the Committee is taking. The lack of transparency is concerning, not only because the European Parliament, the only directly elected EU institution, usually holds Committee meetings in public, but also because the public should be given the opportunity to scrutinise the TERR Committee’s work.

Consequently, and along with Amnesty International, the European Network Against Racism (ENAR), Human Rights Watch, the Open Society Public Policy Institute (OSEPI) and the International Committee of Jurists (ICJ), EDRi started meeting several TERR Committee members. The aim of our discussions was to learn more about what the Committee is doing, as well as to ensure that it does not neglect its mandate on fundamental rights. In addition, we also expressed our concerns regarding the significant competence overlap between the TERR Committee and the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), and the need to organise a public hearing with fundamental rights NGOs.

EDRi will continue working to ensure that the EU and its Member States uphold their obligations to respect our fundamental rights when designing and implementing policies and measures that claim to combat terrorism. We will keep spreading the message that restricting our freedoms, particularly without putting in place the necessary safeguards, can be counter-productive.

European Parliament’s TERR Committee main website

Special committee to tackle deficiencies in the fight against terrorism (06.07.2017)

European Parliament’s Decision establishing the TERR Committee (06.07.2017)

(Contribution by Ana Ollo, EDRi intern)