Assessing Damage, Urging Action

Report of the Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and Human Rights

This report of the International Commission of Jurists’ Eminent Jurists Panel, based on one of the most comprehensive surveys on counter-terrorism and human rights to date, illustrates the extent to which the responses to the events of 11 September 2001 have changed the legal landscape in countries around the world.

Terrorism sows terror, and many States have fallen into a trap set by the terrorists. Ignoring lessons from the past, they have allowed themselves to be rushed into hasty responses, introducing an array of measures which undermine cherished values as well as the international legal framework carefully developed since the Second World War. These measures have resulted in human rights violations, including torture, enforced disappearances, secret and arbitrary detentions, and unfair trials. There has been little accountability for these abuses or justice for their victims.

The Panel addresses the consequences of pursuing counter-terrorism within a war paradigm, the increasing importance of intelligence, the use of preventive mechanisms and the role of the criminal justice system in counter-terrorism. Seven years after 9/11, and sixty years after the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is time for the international community to re-group, take remedial action, and reassert core values and principles of international law. Those values and principles were intended to withstand crises, and they provide a robust and effective framework from within which to tackle terrorism. It is clear that the threat from terrorism is likely to be a long-term one, and solid long-term responses are now needed.

The Eminent Jurists Panel

The Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-terrorism and Human Rights, composed of eight distinguished jurists from different parts of the world, is an independent panel commissioned by the ICJ to report on the global impact of terrorism on human rights. The present report is based on a process of sixteen Hearings around the world covering more than forty countries in different parts of the world.


International Commission of Jurists


17 February 2009


International Commission of Jurists

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