EU: New analysis reveals lack of human rights safeguards undermining EU counter-terrorism effort

The organisation was launching a new detailed analysis of the EU’s counter-terrorism measures in the area of criminal law since 11 September 2001.

The Analysis highlights the lack of judicial supervision over whose names appear on 'terrorist blacklists' and calls for checks to help ensure that innocent people do not find their names on them.

It voices serious concern that the UK and other European countries have accepted or pursued 'diplomatic assurances' to avoid restrictions on transferring people to countries where they could face torture.

It also calls for a prohibition on EU states authorising the use of airspace and airports for ‘rendition’ – illegal transfers of people across borders in breach of their human rights.

Dick Oosting, Director of Amnesty International's EU Office said:

"Cross-border cooperation to prosecute and remove people suspected of terrorist involvement is increasing, but fundamental human rights safeguards are being left behind at the borders.

"It is clear that the lack of concrete, legally-binding human rights safeguards is not only leading to serious breaches of human rights but has created legal confusion and uncertainty."

The Analysis, Human Rights Dissolving at the Borders? Counter-terrorism and EU Criminal Law, was presented today (31 May) to the EU's Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gijs de Vries who participated in an Amnesty International panel debate with Jonathan Faull, European Commission Director-General for Justice, Freedom and Security, Lord Carlile of Berriew, UK Independent Reviewer of terrorism legislation and Susie Alegre, co-author of the analysis, currently OSCE/ODIHR Counter-Terrorism Adviser.

Amnesty International also raises concerns regarding European Arrest Warrants; the drawing up of minimum standards across the EU on the rights of suspects and defendants in criminal proceedings; and the admissibility of evidence obtained by torture

Dick Oosting said:

"Respect for human rights is often portrayed as hampering efforts to defeat terrorism but this new analysis shows how genuine security is undermined if basic human rights and the rule of law are not respected. It is in the breach, not in the protection of human rights that security is put at risk. That goes for the EU as well as anywhere else in the world."

Amnesty International’s analysis states that the notion of a "war on terror" is helping to create a legal limbo, and that it is in no-one's interests and certainly not in the interest of security, to obtain a wrongful conviction in a terrorist trial or to cooperate blindly with countries that do not respect human rights or the rule of law, thus giving their methods legitimacy.

Dick Oosting said:

"Because of the political and emotional impact of terrorist offences, terrorist cases are often the most susceptible to abuses of fundamental rights.

"That is why it is in these most sensitive and difficult cases that clear and binding standards for criminal justice must prevail if the EU and its Member States are to live up to their collective commitments to protect the principles of human rights and the rule of law."

This is the first analysis of its type of the overall implications of the EU's recent counter-terrorism initiatives in the area of criminal law.

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