Counter-terrorism measures increasingly diverging from human rights standards, UN expert warns


Efforts to improve counter-terrorism measures around the world are damaging human rights and the rule of law, a UN expert told the General Assembly today, calling for greater accountability as countries build institutions to combat terrorism.

“I am deeply concerned by the increasing tendency to neglect fundamental rights and freedoms when addressing terrorism issues,” said Fionnuala Ní Aoláin, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism. “This has a severe impact on the integrity of the rule of law and governance.”

She made the comments in presenting a report suggesting ways human rights should be put at the heart of training and technical assistance aimed at combatting terrorism at the national, regional and global levels.

“Counter-terrorism capacity-building and technical assistance are increasingly diverging from international human rights standards,” Ní Aoláin said. “Twenty years after tragic events of September 11, with an unprecedented growth in funding for counter-terrorism, the situation is steadily getting worse.

“We are in dire need of an overhaul of capacity-building and technical assistance so that efforts to counter terrorism and violent extremism are not only effective, but also respect human rights and are transparent and accountable.” She said UN bodies have an important role to play in this effort.

“The growth in counter-terrorism institutions, frameworks and programming must be matched by meticulous attention to human rights and rule of law, and the implementation of appropriate monitoring and oversight strategies,” Ní Aoláin  said. “Capacity-building and technical assistance that are compliant with human rights and the rule of law can actually help prevent the conditions conducive to the emergence of sustained violence in society.”

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