Human Rights and Terrorism

It is extremely important not to exclude the fight against terrorism from the responsibility imposed by global human rights norms along with other appropriate rules under global law. Any policy of combating terrorism that is numb to this regard or even fails totally in this regard, and challenges the very concept concerning the meaning of humane treatment. Despite an excess of instruments tackling terrorism, it has been hard to reach an international agreement on a description of terrorism. A clear description is necessary as without it cruel governments infringe human rights referencing security.

I have to raise awareness that terrorism prospers in environments of misery, disgrace, poverty, political oppression, radicalism and human rights neglect; it also prospers in contexts of divergence and foreign occupation. As everyone is aware, the existing ‘wars on terrorism’ have in many instances eaten away the very principles that terrorist’s aim: human rights and the tenet of law. The UN High-level Board raised concern that ‘advances to terror focusing totally on military, police force and intelligence actions risk undermining efforts to encourage proper governance and human rights, isolate large parts of the globe’s population and thus weaken the prospective for collective deed against terrorism’. Protective measures habitually amount to compound operations prying with the confidentiality and rights of many people. Political leaders have to be seen taking effective measures and it is consequently not astonishing that huge operations are mounted in response to key attacks. An illustration of such measures was the formation of the Department of Homeland Security in US. In the EU, in response to Madrid bombings, an EU security controller was selected and the so-called unity clause whereby states vow to assist one another in fighting terrorism – as well as with military means was called upon (ICELANDIC HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE, 2004).

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You have to agree with me that terrorists regularly set out to generate an atmosphere of severe uncertainty in which standard decision-making procedures become difficult if not impractical and as such obstruct democracy and the tenet of law. The Security Council however affirms that, according to Chapter VII of the UN Agreement, states have the responsibility to protect people under their command from terrorism and to adopt to the utmost their lawful weapons to suppress and stop terrorist actions. Terrorism, though, must be fought inside the structure of the law and respecting the principle of equality and non-discrimination. Once the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated that, there exist no substitution between effectual action against terror campaign and the shield of human rights. The battles against terrorism involve lasting measures with the plan to stopping the causes of terrorism, by encouraging, in particular, unity in our societies and a multi cultural dialogue. Counter-terrorism has to be lawful, value human rights  i.e., never utilize torture – and be subject to proper supervision. I would like to persuade nations to observe the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Plan, established in 2006, that reaffirmed the significance of respect for human rights, global humanitarian law and the tenet of law as the elementary basis for the battle against terrorism (CounterPunch, 2014).

As you will learn, several unique procedures of the previous Human Rights Council have attracted attention to the negative impact of many measures adopted in the perspective of counter-terrorism activities. For example, the Special Rapporteur on the encouragement and shield of human rights and essential freedoms while counteracting terrorism and the Special rapporteur on persecution and other cruel, ruthless or degrading treatment or punishment began a Joint Study to evaluate the practice of secret confinement from a universal perspective with the aim producing new findings concerning the nature and extent of the practice. During the year 2003, the special rapporteurs, experts and chairpersons of operational groups of the special processes of the UN Commission on Human Rights gave a combined statement in which they expressed distress at the increasing threats posed on human rights.  The rapporteurs additionally voiced their deep concern at the development of strategies, legislations and practices progressively more being adopted by numerous countries in reference the battle against terrorism, which influence negatively the pleasure of practically all human rights – social, cultural, monetary, political and civil. They drew concentration to the dangers inherent in the unsystematic use of the phrase ‘terrorism’, reiterated the non-critical of particular rights and deplored the fact that, under the excuse of fighting terrorism, human rights protectors are threatened and susceptible groups are besieged and discriminated against. Lastly, they affirmed that every counter-terrorist actions have to be in accordance with worldwide human rights law (Heinz & Arend, 2005). Are countries forgetting that they are brutally treating the same citizens they serve?

You will agree with me UN organizations and NGOs have registered widespread human rights abuses perpetrated under the ploy of fighting terrorism, inter alia, suffering, inhuman and demeaning treatment, enforced vanishing, arbitrary detention, ethnic profiling, breaches of confidential rights and violations of legal process rights and effectual remedies. In accordance with the treaty-founded system, the Human Rights Committee has shown concerns concerning counter-terrorism actions taken by states, and has confirmed in its concluding comments that states parties should ensure that the events undertaken in order to accomplish Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001) must fully conform with the ICCPR. Additionally, the Committee has carried out meetings with the Counter-Terrorism Committee regarding their operating methods and areas of concern. The Committee has additionally decided in personal communications regarding human rights violations committed in the situation of the ‘war on terror’. Illustrations comprise Yasoda Sharma v. Nepal whereby the Committee discovered a violation of the ban of torture and cruel, inhuman and humiliating treatment, the right not to be subjected to arbitrary confinement, the right to humane handling while in confinement and the right to an effectual remedy due to the enforced vanishing of Surya Prasad Sharma. In Sayadi and Vinck v. Belgium, additionally the Committee established that Belgium had sullied the rights to freedom of association and to privacy of the claimants who were subjected to restraining measures subsequent o their inclusion in the Lists of UN Al-Qaeda and Taliban Terrorists. In Maksudov et al. v. Kyrgyzstan, yet another case the Committee establisged that Kyrgyzstan was answerable for the subjective detention and relocation of four Uzbek people to Uzbekistan, where they encountered charges of terrorism crimes carrying a probable death sentence, in violation of Kyrgyzstan’s commitments under the ICCPR. The Committee identified that the applicants were faced by considerable risk of being subjected to persecution or other ill handling, and that was an abuse of the right to existence (Duffy, 2008). I have to seek agreement that these incidences indicate a continued total disregard of human rights.

To avoid any political denials of the facts, The International Commission of Jurists In 2009 published an Evaluating Damage, Urging Action comprising of a comprehensive study on counterterrorism and human rights as from 2001(Heinz & Arend, 2005). It discovered extensive evidence of severe human rights abuses such as:

  • Persons have been kidnapped and held in covert prisons, where they have been tormented and ill-handled;
  • Terrorism suspected individuals are held incommunicado for lengthy periods prior to being charged and even before they are allowed access to lawyers, courts and the exterior world, in conditions that are unfavorable to, and have resulted to, torture and cruel, inhuman and demeaning treatment;
  •  Individuals tried with terrorism are frequently tried before exceptional or military courts, which do not have the requisite guarantees of autonomy and neutrality, and fail to offer necessary fair trial guarantees;
  •  Extradition, detention and managerial actions adversely affect individuals suspected of being involved in or encouraging terrorism are often performed on the basis of clandestine intelligence which is undisclosed to the affected individuals;
  •  Widely structured anti-terrorist legislation has intruded upon fundamental sovereignty of speech, opinion and gathering;
  • Countless counter-terrorist procedures lack fundamental safeguards for instance due process and sufficient oversight systems; 
  • A culture of confidentiality is becoming persistent and, in the case of clandestine detentions, suspects are placed outside the basic protections accorded by human rights standards, global humanitarian law and every domestic constitutional assurances;
  • The privacy demanded for the operations of the intelligence and protection bodies frequently results to impunity for misconduct, and innocent sufferers of human rights abuses find themselves with no opportunity for redress. What other evidence does the world need to confirm the injustices done to suspected terrorists?

An instrument worthy a special stating is the 2005 Conference on the Prevention of Terrorism. The intention of the Convention was to improve efforts in stopping terrorism and its harmful effects on the overall satisfaction of human rights, specifically the right to existence, both by actions to be taken at nationalized level and through global co-operation. The Conference contains a number of provisions regarding the protection of human rights and basic freedoms, both in respect of interior and worldwide co-operation on one part and as an fundamental part of fresh criminalization regulations (in form of circumstances and safeguards) and the condition of victims on the other part. The drafters regarded this crucial feature of the Convention, because it deals with concerns, which are on the boundary between the lawful exercise of freedoms, for instance freedom of opinion and association or religious conviction, and criminal behavior. The Convention does not describe new terrorist crimes in addition to those in the existing Conventions. Safeguards were provided with regards to extradition and joint legal assistance that made clear that the Convention did not derogate from significant traditional basis for refusal, for instance, refusal of extradition where the individual will be faced with torture or to ruthless or degrading treatment or castigation, or to the death punishment (ICELANDIC HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE, 2004). I call for countries to observe the international regulations set out in the convention regarding humane treatment of terrorism suspects. 

I concur with all that according to the principle of the IACHR, martial courts shall not try civilians, apart from when no civilian courts are inexistent or where trial by those particular courts is materially unattainable. Even under those conditions, the IACHR has indicated that the trial shall respect the minimum assurances established under global law. The minimum assurances include non-discrimination among citizens and those who find themselves in the State jurisdiction, and neutral judge, the right to be aided by freely chosen advocate, and contact by defendants to proof brought against them along with the chance to challenge it.

The Human Rights are at stake, the initial extensive support for important counter-terror measures has lessened markedly in many nations as severe human rights violations, for instance extrajudicial renditions, illegal and indefinite imprisonment and torture, done in the excuse of security, are coming to the open. The public, in addition to the courts in United States, Europe, and other regions, are progressively more pressing governments to value human rights in fighting terrorism. These developments give rise to optimism that human rights will be properly respected in potential efforts to combat terrorism.


CounterPunch. (2014). U.S. Human Rights Abuses in the War on Terror » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names. Retrieved July 23, from

Duffy, H. (2008). Human rights litigation and the ‘war on terror’. Retrieved July 23, from

Heinz, W., & Arend, J. (2005). The International Fight against Terrorism and the Protection of Human Rights. Retrieved July 23, from

ICELANDIC HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE. (2004). Human Rights and Terrorism | Human Rights in Relation to Other Topics | Human Rights Concepts, Ideas and Fora | The human rights education project | Retrieved July 23, from

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