On 4 September, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the case of
Trabelsi v. Belgium, which concerned the extradition of a Tunisian national from Belgium to the United States, where he is being prosecuted on charges of terrorist offences and is liable to life imprisonment. The extradition had been effected despite the fact that the Court had asked Belgium to suspend the extradition as an interim measure under Rule 39 of the Rules of Court.
The Court held that the applicant’s extradition to the United States entailed a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment) of the Convention. It considered that the life sentence to which the applicant was liable in the United States was irreducible inasmuch as US law provided for no adequate mechanism for reviewing this type of sentence, and that it was therefore contrary to the provisions of Article 3. The Court also held that there had been a violation of Article 34 (right of individual application) of the Convention: the failure of the Belgian State to observe the suspension of extradition indicated by the Court had irreversibly lowered the level of protection of the rights secured under Article 3 of the Convention, which the applicant had attempted to uphold by lodging his application with the Court, and had interfered with his right of individual application.
On 24 July 2014, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgments in the cases of
Al Nashiri v. Poland and Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland, concerning the extraordinary rendition by the CIA of two terrorism suspects to secret detention sites in Poland.
The Court found a number of violations of the Convention. It held in particular that the applicants had been subjected to acts of torture during their detention in Poland and that the Polish Government had failed to comply with their obligations under Article 38, as they had refused to provide the Court with certain items of evidence. The Court further ruled that Poland should seek to remove the risk that Mr Al Nashiri might be sentenced to death, by seeking assurances from the US authorities that such penalty will not be imposed.
On 15 May 2014, Lithuania ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (CETS No. 196), which now has 32 ratifications.
Azerbaijan ratified the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (CETS No. 196) on 4 April 2014.
On 2 - 3 April 2014, Mr Kristian Bartholin, Deputy Head of the Terrorism Division, participated in the regional conference "Sharing Practices in Preventing Terrorism", organised by the UNODC in Bishkek (Kyrgyz Republic), where he presented the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism.
On 25 March 2014, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the case of M.G. v. Bulgaria, which concerned the request for extradition of a Russian national of Chechen origin, suspected of terrorist offences in Russian Federation. The applicant, who held a refugee status in Poland and Germany, contended that if his extradition to the Russian Federation were to go ahead, he would run a serious risk of suffering torture or other inhuman or degrading treatment.
The Court concluded that there would be a violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture and inhuman or degrading treatment) of the Convention in the event of the applicant’s being extradited to Russia.
On 18 March 2014, in the case of Öcalan v. Turkey, the European Court of Human Rights found that there had been a violation of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights on account of the conditions of the applicant’s detention up to 17 November 2009, and in view of his sentence to life imprisonment without prospect of release.
In January - March 2014, the European Court of Human Rights has delivered a number of judgments relevant to counter-terrorism issues:
- in four cases against Ukraine concerning conditions of detention and rights to defence of the communist activists arrested in December 2002 on suspicion of, among other things, terrorism: Aleksandr Vladimirovich Smirnov v. Ukraine, Andrey Yakovenko v. Ukraine, Danilov v. Ukraine and Zinchenko v. Ukraine;
Press release of 13 March 2014
- in the case against Turkey, which concerned the death of the applicants’ relatives in the context of an anti-terrorist operation: Makbule Kaymaz and Others v. Turkey;
Press release of 25 February 2014
- in four cases against Russia concerning refusal to return bodies of presumed terrorists to their families: Abdulayeva v. Russia, Kushtova and Others v. Russia, Arkhestov and Others v. Russia and Zalov and Khakulova v. Russia.
Press release of 16 January 2014
On 12 December 2013, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its judgment in the case of Donohoe v. Ireland, which concerned the fairness of Mr Donohoe’s trial and conviction for being a member of the IRA. The conviction was based, among other things, on evidence given by a Chief Superintendent of the Irish police, who testified that it was his belief that Mr Donohoe was a member of the IRA but refused to disclose his sources claiming that this would endanger lives and State security.
After considering the necessity to protect human life and State security, the existence of additional supportive evidence and counterbalancing safeguards during the trial, the Court found no violation of Article 6 (right to a fair trial) of the European Convention on Human Rights.
On 3 December 2013, the European Court of Human Rights held a Chamber hearing in the cases of Al Nashiri v. Poland and Husayn (Abu Zubaydah) v. Poland. The cases concern the “rendition” of two men suspected of terrorist acts to the CIA secret detention sites at which illegal interrogation methods were used.
The Undersecretariat of Public Order and Security of Prime Ministry of the Republic of Turkey and the Council of Europe organised the International Conference on National and International Coordination in Counter-Terrorism on 24 - 25 October 2013, in Istanbul. Participants discussed legal and policy issues related to counter-terrorism coordination and examined the role of coordination bodies in the preparation and implementation of national counter-terrorism strategies. For more information, visit the conference webpage.
The Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER) held its 25th plenary meeting on 23-24 October 2013 in Istanbul (Turkey), during which the Committee set the following issues as priorities of its work in 2014-2015:
- special investigation techniques,
- radicalisation and receiving of training for terrorism, including via the Internet,
- terrorists acting alone,
- assessment of possible gaps in the legal framework provided by the Council of Europe international legal instruments in the area of the prevention and suppression of terrorism.
Representatives of Bulgaria, France, Montenegro and Latvia submitted the updated country profiles on the counter-terrorism capacity. The Committee elected Mr Nicola Piacente (Italy) as its Chair and Mr Vladimir Salov (Russian Federation) as its Vice-Chair.
On 21 October 2013, the European Court of Human Rights delivered its
Grand Chamber judgment in the case of
Del Río Prada v. Spain, which concerned the postponement of the final release of a person convicted of terrorist offences, on the basis of a new approach – known as the “Parot doctrine” – adopted by the Supreme Court after she had been sentenced. The Court concluded that a retrospective application of a new precedent of the Supreme Court in a manner which was not foreseeable for the applicant and which had the effect of extending her detention beyond the date initially foreseen for her final release amounted to a violation of Articles 7 and 5 § 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Following this judgment, Inès Del Río Prada was released from prison.
Court's factsheet on terrorism
18-21 March 2013, the Terrorism Division of the Council of Europe participated in the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (UNSC CTED) Comprehensive Visit to Republic of Serbia to monitor the implementation of Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) by UN Member states. For further information, please see the UN website.
• There would be no violation of Article 3 (prohibition of torture or
inhuman or degrading treatment) of the European Convention on Human Rights;
• There would be no violation of Article 5 (right to liberty and security) of the Convention; but that
• There would be a violation of Article 6 (right to a fair trial), given the real risk of the admission of evidence obtained by torture at his retrial.
• The Court also held, unanimously, that there had been no violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy).
This is the first time that the Court has found that an expulsion would be in violation of Article 6, which reflects the international consensus that the use of evidence obtained through torture makes a fair trial impossible. At its last meeting on 23rd November 2011, the Group of Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism [CETS No. 196] adopted provisionally the Rules of Procedure of the Group of Parties to the Convention CETS No. 196. Final adoption of these Rules by silent procedure has been finalised on 2 January 2012.
On 7 July 2010, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted the abridged report of the CODEXTER meeting (Strasbourg, 7-8 April 2010) and the follow-up mechanism for the effective use and implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (CETS No 196).
1st July 2010, Mr Andrea CANDRIAN, Chair of the CODEXTER, held an exchange of views with the Rapporteur Group on Legal Co-operation of the Ministers' Deputies (GR-J). Mr Candrian has outlined recent activities of the CODEXTER and, in particular, those related to the follow-up of the CoE Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (CETS No. 196)
On 4 June 2010, the Venice Commission adopted, at its 83rd Plenary Session, the Report on Counter-Terrorism Measures and Human Rights
The Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER) held its 18th meeting in Strasbourg, France, from 7 to 8 April 2010. The main part of this meeting was devoted to the discussion on the regular follow-up mechanism to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (CETS No. 196). Moreover, the Committee approved the analytical study on false identity information as a challenge to immigration authorities as well as the updated version of the Progress Report on future priority areas for the work of the Council of Europe against terrorism. The CODEXTER also authorised the publication of the country profiles on counter-terrorism capacity as submitted by Serbia and as updated by Albania, Germany and “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”.
On 17 December 2009, addressing the Counter-Terrorism Committee’s meeting in New-York, Mr. Manuel Lezertua, CoE’s Jurisconsult and Director of Legal Advice and Public International Law emphasised the key role that regional organisations, such as the Council of Europe, have to play in implementing the UN tools against terrorism. It also explored areas for future cooperation between the CoE and the UN relevant bodies involved in counter-terrorism related issues. The intervention of Mr Lezertua has been followed by a lively debate with the participation of all delegations. In the course of this debate the possibility of joint activities was also suggested.
High level seminar on the protection of Human Rights within the Framework of the Fight against Terrorism
On October 8th and 9h 2009, the Counter-terrorism Task-Force of the Council of Europe and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Spain organised in Málaga, with the support of the University of Málaga and of the Foundation Valsaín, a high level seminar on the protection of Human Rights within the Framework of the Fight against Terrorism.
The seminar was opened by Mr. Cándido Conde Pumpido, Public Prosecutor of Spain, Mr. Francisco de la Torre Prados, Mayor of Málaga, Mr. Alvaro Gil-Robles, first Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, Ambassador Juan Manuel of Barandica y Luxán, Ambas/sador of Spain for Strategic Affairs, Ambassador Fernando Perpiñá, Secretary of the Club of Madrid and Mrs. Adelaida de la Calle Martín, Rector of the University of Málaga.
The participants - coming from diplomatic, ministerial, judicial and academic circles and also from civil society - discussed consecutively the integration of Human Rights in national counter-terrorism policies, the tools available for this purpose at national and international level and legal challenges faced by States in this field
Participation in Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism,
Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights
[29/04/09] On 28 April 2009, the Council of Europe hosted a lunchtime briefing on “Assessing Damage, Urging Action: The way forward for counter-terrorism in Europe. Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights”. This event, organised by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and sponsored by Dick Marty, Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Crime Problems and the Fight against Terrorism, highlighted some of the key findings of the Eminent Jurists Panel report; one of the most comprehensive inquiries into the impact of counter-terrorism measures on human rights. The briefing was attended by Dick Marty and Gerald Staberock, Director of the Global Security and Rule of Law Initiative (ICJ), and moderated by the Council of Europe Anti-Terrorism Co-ordinator, Mr Alexandre Guessel.
The Council of Europe participated in the 6th Worldwide Security
Conference organised by the EastWest Institute (EWI) and co-sponsored
by the World Customs Organization (host) and Italy in its role of Chair
of the G8. The Conference brought together experts from all over the world
with the aim to establish relations between governments, businesses, civil
society and mass media representatives in order to consider joint action
to combat terrorism. The Conference took place on 18-19 February 2009 in
Brussels, Belgium, at the World Customs Organization headquarters.
Joint CoE/OSCE/UNODC Workshop on Enhancing International
Legal Co-operation related to Terrorism
[29/01/09] On 28-29 January 2009, the Council of Europe, the UNODC and the OSCE organized a Workshop on Enhancing International Legal Co-operation related to Terrorism, including the Drafting of Requests for Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance in Neum (Bosnia and Herzegovina). The workshop focussed on the analysis of legal and technical instruments to enforce the international co-operation on mutual legal assistance and extradition in terrorism-related criminal cases.
Council of Europe, OSCE and UN discuss terrorism prevention
in the context of intercultural dialogue
[11.07.08] On the occasion of the annual High-level Tripartite meeting on 7 July 2008, the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the United Nations and partner organisations discussed different aspects of intercultural dialogue and their collaboration in this area.
In the Joint Communiqué adopted at the end of the meeting, the participating organisations stressed the role of international instruments to combat terrorism and called upon states to encourage inter-religious and cross-cultural dialogue with a view to reducing tensions and, in this manner, help to prevent terrorist offences. They underlined the continuing need to address the conditions conducive to radicalisation and the spread of terrorism, while seeking to intercept and prosecute terrorists and counter terrorist networks.
CoE organised a Counter-Terrorism Training Workshop in
[26/05/08] At the invitation of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), the Council of Europe organised a Counter-Terrorism Training Workshop in co-operation with the UNMIK/Kosovo Special Prosecutor’s Office (KSPO) which took place in Pristina on 3 and 4 June 2008. The aim of this two-day event was to provide training on the international legal framework for co-operation on counter-terrorism issues, with an emphasis on questions of mutual legal assistance and extradition, as well as existing technical assistance tools for facilitating such international co-operation. Moreover, participants examined key issues regarding the protection of human rights while fighting terrorism.
Council of Europe convention against terrorist financing
enters into force
[30.04.2008] “Following the money trail is one of the most important ways of fighting terrorism and organised crime. Quick access to information on assets held by criminal organisations, including terrorist groups, is vital to successful prevention and prosecution of terrorism”, said Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe.
Workshop on Enhancing International Legal Co-operation
related to Terrorism, including the Drafting of Requests for Extradition
and Mutual Legal Assistance
[22.2.08] The Council of Europe, the UNODC and OSCE organised a Workshop on Enhancing International Legal Co-operation related to Terrorism, including the Drafting of Requests for Extradition and Mutual Legal Assistance on 1-2 April 2008 in Ankara (Turkey).
The aim of this two-day national workshop was to provide training on the international legal framework for co-operation on mutual legal assistance and extradition in terrorism-related criminal cases, and on existing technical assistance tools for facilitating such international co-operation in criminal matters.
First International Conference on Radicalisation and
Political Violence, London, 17-18 January 2008
[17.1.08] Terry Davis, Council of Europe Secretary General, delivered a keynote speech at the first International Conference on Radicalisation and Political Violence held in London, 17-18 January 2008.
"A really effective fight against terrorism is one which respects and protects human rights and fundamental freedoms rather than sacrificing them in the short-sighted hope that terrorism can be defeated by undermining the very foundations of the society which the extremists are set to destroy." said the Secretary General.
Council of Europe joins OSCE to discuss protection of
victims of terrorist acts
The High-Level Meeting on Victims of Terrorism followed an initiative of the Spanish Chairmanship of the OSCE and was organised by ODIHR in Vienna, 13-14 September 2007.
Combating racial discrimination in the fight against
On 29 June 2007, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) adopted General Policy Recommendation N° 11 on combating racism and racial discrimination in policing. The Recommendation results from ECRI's concerns that cases of racism and racial discrimination in policing, including racial profiling, have intensified and taken on a new dimension, particularly as a result of the fight against terrorist crime.
Second parliamentary report on secret detentions
On 27 June 2007, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe backed the on Secret detentions and illegal transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member states prepared by Senator Dick Marty.
In its adopted after the report, the Assembly called upon European governments to look into the need for democratic oversight of military intelligence services and foreign intelligence services operating on their territory.
See also the special file.
Intelligence and Accountability
On 2 June 2007, the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) adopted a Report on the Democratic oversight of the security services. Acknowledging that intelligence is an inescapable necessity for modern governments and that security services, by their very nature, impinge on individual rights, the report examines the need for limits to their activities, ways to make security services accountable and complaints mechanisms for individuals adversely affected by security or intelligence services.
European Union supports the Council of Europe Convention
on the Prevention of Terrorism
On the occasion of the entry into force of the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism on 1 June 2007, the EU Presidency issued a statement endorsing the Convention.
Human Rights Commissioner voices concern over methods
of terrorist profiling
Strasbourg, 29.05.2007 - In an opinion article available copyright-free, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights voices concern that new forms of terrorist profiling have led to unacceptable discrimination against Muslims and people who appear to be of Middle-Eastern origin. Thomas Hammarberg argues that European governments should rather encourage community policing and draw up long-term measures with a view to preventing the causes of terrorism.
Council of Europe and the European Union sign an agreement
to foster mutual co-operation against terrorism
Gunter Gloser, German Minister of State for Europe and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the Commissioner for External Relations, on behalf of the European Union and Council of Europe Secretary General Terry Davis, signed a Memorandum of Understanding on May 23 in Strasbourg. The agreement creates an institutional framework to reinforce partnership in areas of common interest including the fight against terrorism. (more…)
The Council of Europe organised a series of Anti-Terrorism and Human Rights Training Seminars for Turkish law-enforcement authorities, in Ankara between March and November 2007. The seminars were addressed to governors, officials and police officers. They dealt with ECHR standards with a special focus on the different mechanisms for supervising law enforcement bodies, the fight against terrorism and the exercise of fundamental freedoms. (more).
European Prosecutors discuss terrorism
The Council of Europe organised a European Conference of Prosecutors in Warsaw on 4 and 5 June 2007 on the subject of "International Co-Operation in the Criminal Justice Field". Prosecutors from the Council of Europe's 47 member states discussed ways of intensifying co-operation between prosecution services in the criminal justice field, to target more effectively serious crime, including terrorism.
Advancing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has published the proceedings of the Symposium on “Advancing the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy”, which took place in Vienna on 17 and 18 May 2007. The Council of Europe, an active supporter of the Strategy, took part in the Symposium to contribute its experience and legal expertise.
Council of Europe and OSCE encourage all levels of society
to prevent terrorism
The Council of Europe contributed its vision and experience as a pan-European organisation in the Political Public-Private Partnership Conference on “Partnership of State Authorities, Civil Society and the Business Community in Combating Terrorism” organised by the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in Vienna on 31 May–1 June 2007.
Contribution of the Council of Europe
Russian Federation: Council of Europe organised a Counter-Terrorism
Workshop for public prosecutors in Moscow, 1-2 March 2007.
Co-organised by the Council of Europe and the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation, the workshop focused on international co-operation against terrorism in the light of the legal framework for the prevention and suppression of terrorism.
Annual High-level meeting between the Council of Europe, the OSCE and the
UN to discuss the implementation of the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy
took place in Vienna on 13-14 February 2007
Council of Europe and Interpol step up co-operation
On 17 January 2007, the Council of Europe adopted Recommendation Rec (2007) 1 to member states regarding co-operation against terrorism between the Council of Europe and its member states, and the International Criminal Police Organization (ICPO - Interpol).
OSCE supports Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention
On 5 December 2006, OSCE Ministerial Council adopted a Decision calling on participating States to consider becoming party to and to implement their obligations under the existing international and regional legal instruments, including the Council of Europe’s Conventions on Cybercrime (2001) and on the Prevention of Terrorism (2005).
Council of Europe joins international organisations to
discuss protection of human rights in the fight against terrorism
The Council of Europe participated in the Technical workshop on Human Rights and International Cooperation in Counter-Terrorism which the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights organised together with the Government of Liechtenstein in Vaduz, 15 - 17 November 2006.
Council of Europe teams up with UN and OSCE against terrorism
The Council of Europe participated in the Second Sub-regional Expert Workshop on International Co-operation on Counter-Terrorism, Corruption and the Fight against Transnational Organised Crime which the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) organised, in co-operation with the Stability Pact for South-Eastern Europe, in Bucharest, 13-15 November 2006.
Council of Europe and UN co-operate on the fight against
terrorism in Bosnia and Herzegovina
The Council of Europe and UNODC organised a meeting on Technical assistance on Legislative Implementation and International Cooperation in combating terrorism together with the Government of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo on 1 November 2006. It resulted in the adoption of a Plan of Action for Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Agenda - Plan of Action
Joint OSCE-Council of Europe Expert Workshop on Preventing
The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) organised a joint Expert Workshop on Preventing Terrorism: Fighting Incitement and Related Terrorist Activities in Vienna (Austria) on 19 and 20 October 2006.
Agenda - Summary