VIENNA, 12 November 2012 – Strengthening institutions that uphold the rule of law as a way to effectively prevent terrorism and radicalization that leads to terrorism is the focus of an OSCE conference that started in Vienna today.
The two-day conference organized by the OSCE Transnational Threats Department brings together more than 180 counter-terrorism practitioners from governments, law enforcement, the judiciary, civil society from OSCE States and Partners, as well as international and regional organizations. They will examine good practices on upholding the rule of law in preventing and combatting terrorism through adequately criminalizing terrorist offences, establishing effective criminal procedures, as well as raising law enforcement capacities and engaging with the people.
“Having a criminal justice system that embraces effective investigative, prosecutorial, and judicial capacities in line with human rights and fundamental freedoms, is vital to ensure that persons who plan, perpetrate, or support terrorist acts are brought to justice, and that victims of terrorism are provided with the appropriate redress,” said the OSCE Secretary General, Lamberto Zannier. “With its inclusive nature and comprehensive approach to security, the OSCE can act as a regional pillar in global efforts aimed at furthering the rule of law to prevent terrorism.”
Other speakers in the opening session included the Chair of the OSCE Permanent Council Eoin O’Leary representing the Irish Chairmanship of the OSCE, Executive Director of the UNODC Yury Fedotov, and the Head of Human Rights Department of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Snjezana Bokulic, and Anne Witkowsky, Acting Principal Deputy Coordinator of the Bureau of Counterterrorism, U.S. Department of State who delivered a keynote speech.
”The international community has made great strides over the past decade in tactical counterrorism – taking individual terrorists off the streets, disrupting cells, and thwarting conspiracies,” Witkowsky said. “But to be effective over the long term, our national and collective efforts must also focus on strategic counterterrorism.”
Judge of the Cassation Court, Jean-Paul Laborde of France in his address to the participants stressed the importance of protecting the independence and fairness of the judicial process, as well as the need for the states to honour their international commitments related to the dignity of human life, respect for individual freedoms. Laborde said it would help ensure public support and make counter-terrorism efforts more effective. “All of us recognize that focusing entirely on militaristic, police and harsh law enforcement measures will in the long run weaken what we need most in the fight against terrorism - the support of the people,” he said.
The conference participants will identify ways to streamline international assistance efforts through mechanisms promoting effective and rule of law-based national criminal justice systems, such as the Global Counter Terrorism Forum, and how the OSCE can further contribute to these efforts.
Participants of a side event organized by the International Centre for Counter Terrorism held today will specifically look at the civil society engagement in preventing and combatting terrorism and radicalization, and discuss potential for the co-operation on this with the OSCE and other international and regional organizations.