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Counter-Terrorism Trends Risk Violating Rights

Five Trends in Counter-Terrorism Measures Risk Violating Human Rights, Says UN Expert

New York, Sep 25 2006 8:00PM

Five “current trends” in fighting the global scourge of terrorism risk violating human rights, an independent United Nations expert told the newly established Human Rights Council today as it began the second week of debate on a wide range of issues at its second session in Geneva.

Martin Scheinin, Special Rapporteur on the protection and promotion of human rights while countering terrorism, said these trends consisted of States:

  • resorting to the notion of “terrorism” to stigmatise political, ethnic or other movements they simply did not like;

  • questioning or compromising the absolute prohibition of torture and of all forms of cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment;

  • going beyond the criminalization of incitement to commit serious crime, by penalising the “glorification” or “apology” of terrorism, or the publication of information that “could be useful” in the commission of acts of terrorism;

  • justifying tightening immigration controls by the risk of terrorism;

  • the issue of terrorism largely replacing drug-related crime as the primary public justification for extending the powers of the police, coupled with the abandonment of many of the traditional safeguards.

    In presenting his report, Mr. Scheinin stressed that his mandate was not only to disclose and criticize human rights violations, but equally importantly to identify and publicize best practices, in terms of legislative and practical solutions that combined an effective fight against terrorism with the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

    Representatives from almost 20 countries took part in discussions following the presentation.

    The Council today also heard reports on the effects of structural adjustment policies and foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights; the use of mercenaries as a means of violating human rights and impeding the exercise of the right of peoples to self-determination; the right to adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living; the right to education, and human rights and transnational corporations.

    It also heard concluded discussions on a report from the Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Special Rapporteurs are unpaid independent human rights experts.

    This second session of the Council, set up earlier this year to replace the much-criticized Commission on Human Rights, opened last Monday and will run until 6 October.


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