Action against Terrorism

Definition of the activity of the PC-TI

In its Progress report on the action which the Council of Europe could usefully carry out in the field of the fight against terrorism which the GMT adopted at its 3rd meeting, which took place in Strasbourg, on 10-11 April 2002, the GMT referred to Special investigative techniques.

The topic was described as follows:

Owing to its complex and secret nature, as well as the technical nature of the area concerned, the investigation of terrorism activities raises serious difficulties. These difficulties are accentuated by the frequent links between terrorism and other forms of crime (e.g. money laundering, drug trafficking, illegal arms sale, organised crime, etc) and by the difficult distinction between legal and illegal activities. The often complex nature of important terrorist actions and therefore of investigations has led to the awareness that these matters could only be effectively and rapidly addressed by making use of special working methods (e.g. undercover agents, electronic surveillance, multidisciplinary approaches and inter-service co-operation). However, in doing so, it is essential to ensure that Human Rights guarantees, as enshrined in relevant international legal instruments, are fully respected.

In this context, it is worth recalling that Article 4 of the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime (ETS 141) and Article 23 of the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption (ETS 173), as well as the Committee of Ministers Recommendation Rec(2001)11 on the fight against organised crime, deal with the question of special investigative powers and techniques.
The GMT proposed the following action :

The GMT recommended to the Committee of Ministers that it be given the task to examine, in co-operation with the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), the issues above with a view to developing, where necessary, guidelines to facilitate and increase the effectiveness of pre-trial investigation in cases of terrorism, bearing in mind Human Rights guarantees (see also the progress of the work of the DH-S-TER).
Final report of activities of the GMT regarding the proposals for follow-up to the 110th session of the Committee of Ministers (Vilnius, 3 May 2002).

On the basis of the terms of reference it received by the Committee of Ministers at its 109th Session in November 2001, the Multidisciplinary Group on international action against terrorism (GMT) finalised, for the attention of the Committee of Ministers at its 110th Session (Vilnius, 3 May 2002), a Progress Report on the action which the Council of Europe could usefully carry out in the field of the fight against terrorism (CM(2002)57). This Progress Report contains (i) a report on the “state of affairs” of the discussions on the update of the 1977 Convention on the Suppression of terrorism, (ii) an indication of the need to provide for a simple, flexible and specific follow-up mechanism in the field of terrorism in order to enhance the efficiency of Council of Europe’s action in this area and (iii) proposals for legal and policy actions to be undertaken, if so decided by the Committee of Ministers, by the Council of Europe in this field.

In the Final Communiqué of the 110th session, the Ministers:
- “took note with satisfaction of the first report of the Multidisciplinary Group on international action against Terrorism (GMT) set up last November;
- expressed their political will that efforts be sustained in the areas identified by the GMT, including the strengthening of international cooperation, through the updating of the 1977 European Convention on the suppression of terrorism;
- reaffirmed their support for the Organisation's efforts to combat terrorism, in particular through examining the possibility of setting up a specific follow-up mechanism to the Council of Europe's action in this field;
- accordingly, instructed the GMT to prepare a draft protocol to the European Convention on the suppression of terrorism, and noted that a new report will be submitted to them for their next session.”

The Deputies, at their 795th meeting on 14-15 May 2002, on the basis of the Communiqué of the 110th Session, of the “Vilnius Declaration on Regional Co-operation and the Consolidation of Democratic Stability in Greater Europe” and of the Conclusions of the Chair, and in the light of the interventions made by the Ministers on 3 May 2002, inter alia, “instructed the Secretariat and the relevant experts’ committees (in particular the GMT and the CDDH), as well as their Working Group GT-Dialogue, to continue their work in the field of the contribution of the Council of Europe to the international action against terrorism and to report back when appropriate”.

Following these decisions, the Ministers’ Deputies, at their 796th meeting, when considering the Abridged Report of the 3rd meeting of the GMT, held an exchange of views on the future of the GMT and raised a number of questions, incorporated into a letter dated 28 May 2002 by the Chairman of the Ministers’ Deputies to the Chair of the GMT.

The letter addresses the following main 5 questions, which will be dealt with in the second part of this document:
(a) indicate the order of priorities of the future actions by the GMT,
(b) explain how the GMT intends to develop its proposals,
(c) make proposals on which body has to implement and develop the actions proposed,
(d) establish a time-table to implement the proposals for actions,
(e) make proposals on the follow up of the implementation of the GMT proposals.
The Final Report of the GMT took as a basis the Progress Report on the action which could usefully be carried out by the Council of Europe in the field of the fight against terrorism, which was presented at the 110th Session of the Committee of Ministers in Vilnius on 3 May 2002 (see document CM(2002)57).

Since the Progress Report dealt already with the content of the various proposals, the Final Report addressed only the questions put forward by the Deputies.
The GMT insisted on the importance of a multidisciplinary approach in the field of the fight against terrorism by the setting up of the PC-TI.

The GMT proposed that the aim of the activity on special investigative techniques in relation to acts of terrorism should be the development of guidelines to facilitate and increase the effectiveness of special investigative techniques in cases of terrorism, bearing in mind Human Rights guarantees and bearing in mind the Guidelines on human rights and the fight against terrorism prepared by the Group of Specialists DH-S-TER under the authority of the Steering Committee on Human Rights of the Council of Europe (CDDH).

This question being relevant to all crimes could be dealt with by the European Committee on crime problems (CDPC), in co-operation with the CDDH and the CDCJ and the first part of its implementation should be completed by the end of 2003.
This Final report was submitted at the 111th Ministerial Session of the Committee of Ministers.

The Final communiqué of this session referred inter alia to the International action against terrorism and stated:

Recent events, including the hostage taking in Moscow, confirmed the magnitude of the threat and the necessity for increased co-operation between Council of Europe member states in the fight against terrorism which has to remain a top political priority.

On the basis of a report by the Secretary General (SG/Inf(2002)43), the Ministers assessed progress on each of the three cornerstones they had defined a year before for the Council of Europe contribution to a UN-led international action against terrorism: intensifying legal cooperation to combat terrorism, safeguarding fundamental values, investing in democracy.

The Ministers expressed their appreciation of the work accomplished by the Multidisciplinary Group on Terrorism (GMT). They were pleased to note that, following the instruction they had given at their Vilnius session (May 2002), work to update the European Convention on Suppression of Terrorism had been completed. They approved the content of the Draft Protocol amending the Convention (document CM(2002)149 revised) and instructed their Deputies to proceed to the adoption of that instrument, in the light of an opinion by the Parliamentary Assembly, as soon as possible in 2003. The Ministers also noted with satisfaction the priority areas for Council of Europe action identified by the GMT and instructed their Deputies to give the necessary follow-up.

The Ministers stressed the importance of the "Guidelines on human rights and the fight against terrorism" adopted on 11 July 2002, which were the first legal international document of this type designed to help States in finding the right balance between the requirements of efficiently protecting society and the preservation of fundamental rights and freedoms.

The Ministers confirmed their strong belief that intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, a welcome process in itself, could indeed contribute both to reducing certain causes of terrorism and the support from which it may benefit. They gave their full support to the new projects launched by the Council of Europe designed to promote such dialogue. Ministers valued efforts made by the North-South Centre to enlarge the scope of this dialogue in the Mediterranean. They also encouraged the Secretary General to pursue contacts with the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), with a view to developing co-operation in this respect, taking into account the results of the Istanbul Forum. Lastly, they welcomed the efforts and initiatives of the Council of Europe and its member states, as well as the European Union, the OSCE and other institutions, with a view to promoting intercultural and inter-religious dialogue.

The Committee of Ministers endorsed the priorities defined by the GMT and as a result, the Committee of Ministers adopted the specific terms of reference for the PC-TI.