On 28 and 29 March the EU-Council of Europe HELP course on Radicalisation Prevention was launched for 87 judges and prosecutors from three member states: Austria, Italy and Spain.
The launch event was held at the premises of the Spanish Judicial School in Barcelona and included presentations on relevant case-law from the European Court of Human Rights related to terrorism and radicalisation, and on the approach to this are from two different jurisdictions. The participants got familiarised with the Council of Europe Programme on Human Rights Education for Legal Professionals (HELP) and its e-learning platform containing more than 30 online courses. They were also introduced to the tutors who will accompany them in the implementation of the course for the next three months, namely: José de la Mata Amaya, Judge of the Audiencia Nacional, Ana Salinas, Professor at the University of Málaga in Spain and Course Coordinator; Stefanie Schöen, from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Constitutional Affairs, Reforms, Deregulation and Justice; Fernanda Iannonne, Italian Judge at the Tribunale di Torre Annunziata; and Federico Di Salvo, former lawyer at the European Court of Human Rights.
The launch started with opening speeches from Jorge Jiménez, Director of the Spanish Judicial School, and Eva Pastrana, Head of the HELP Unit of the Council of Europe, who welcomed all participants, tutors and guest speakers.
Eva Massa provided an overview of the EU-Council of Europe HELP Project “Radicalisation Prevention” while professor and course coordinator, Ana Salinas, explained the format and content of the course. She highlighted how the standards established by the Council of Europe in the area of radicalisation have been a source of inspiration for other European legislation including EU law and how the European Court of Human Rights is the most experienced court in the world regarding terrorism cases (having heard over 600 related cases to date).
Stefano Piedimonte, Head of the Research Division and Library of the European Court of Human Rights, and expert on terrorism case-law, provided very good examples of the European Court´s jurisprudence focusing on issues that have a direct impact on different rights and freedoms protected by the European Convention on Human Rights, specifically: stop and search, arrest and detention, special police supervision, life in prison, freedom of expression, extradition and expulsion and stripping of citizenship.
The second day started with two presentations addressing the issue of radicalisation from the perspective of two Member States with two different legal systems. Judge Jose de la Mata, from the Spanish Audiencia Nacional (the highest criminal court in Spain dealing with most serious crimes such as terrorism, corruption and international crimes) explained how we cannot fight terrorism only with repressive measures; the right approach must be directed to prevent, protect, pursue and respond. He focused on the concept of self-indoctrination and how Spain, compared to other European countries, has an expansive interpretation of the Directive EU Directive 2017/541 on combating terrorism expanding the concept of ‘self-training’ (mentioned in the Directive) to the concept of self-indoctrination in its Criminal Code.
Rebecca Mundy and Kiernan Cunningham, from the UK Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Counter-Terrorism Division, described the structure and work of the CPS and their experience in dealing with terrorism cases. Among the most frequent terrorist offences seen by the CPS are: conduct in preparation of acts of terrorism and support for a terrorist organisation. They also explained the difference between an arrest under the UK Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the Terrorism Act 2000.
Participants had the opportunity to have a training session with their national tutor in smaller groups, per country, where they had the possibility to share their expectations from the course and showed high motivation to contribute to the exchange of ideas and opinions on their respective national versions of the course. This session was extremely practical as it assisted participants in becoming familiar with the HELP platform, the structure, timeline and elements of their national version of the course, as well as providing a unique opportunity for networking with other participants.
All participants who successfully complete the course launched under the joint EU-Council of Europe Project on “Radicalisation Prevention” will receive HELP certificates issued by the Council of Europe and their respective national training institutions.
The first two modules of this course will be made available in English in the self-learning part of the HELP e-learning platform, for professionals interested in the topic.
This activity is organised under the framework of the Project "HELP Radicalisation Prevention", funded by the EU and the Council of Europe, implemented by the Council of Europe.