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Kox: 'Combatting terrorism must not undermine the rule of law in Europe’

28 January 2016

Kox: 'Combatting terrorism must not undermine the rule of law in Europe’

Foto: SP

The struggle against terrorism and for the protection of the constitutional state should not be at odds with each other but, on the contrary, ought to be mutually reinforcing. To fight terrorism by restricting human rights is to play into the hands of the terrorists. Member states of the Council of Europe have the right and duty to protect their citizens from terror. At the same time they must continue to guarantee the fundamental values of the European Convention on Human Rights. Only in that way can terrorism be defeated. A resolution to this effect was adopted this week with broad support by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). PACE also voted in favour of a large number of amendments from SP Senator Tiny Kox, who chairs the United Left Group in the Assembly. The amendments were designed to make the fight against terrorism in the future more efficient and more effective.

The resolution strongly condemned all acts of terrorism. The latest wave of terror in Europe and its immediately surrounding regions left hundreds of victims, leading in many countries to growing unrest, despair and fear, completely disrupting societies. In reaction to the terror several governments have declared that they are at war with Islamicist terrorism. The resolution recalls, however, that the previous war on terrorism, which followed the attacks in the United States in 2001, had been deceptive and futile, and had undermined the framework of international human rights. Care must therefore now be taken to ensure that the fundamental values and standards of the Council of Europe would not be sacrificed and must always be protected, as Senator Kox’s resolution put it.

Also condemned was the misuse by terrorist organisations of the term ‘Islamic’. ‘Neither Da’esh nor similar organisations have the right to claim that they are acting in the name of Islam, or that they represent the Muslim community,’ said Kox. ‘It’s precisely Muslims who are everywhere the victims of this terror and whose religion is besmirched by the terrorist attacks.’ The resolution calls on those who are entitled to speak on behalf of sections of the Muslim community to speak out in order to emphasise that it is the European Convention of Human Rights which guarantees protection throughout Europe to every believer in whatever religion.

The resolution instructs the Secretary General of the Council of Europe to keep a close watch on measures taken in any of the forty-seven member states to combat terrorism, to investigate the necessity and proportionality of these measures, and to report his findings to the Assembly in Strasbourg. The motion further calls on the member states to apply in ways which are effective all resolutions of the United Nations and the Council of Europe pertaining to the funding of terrorism, and in that way to sever the financial lifelines to organisations such as Da’esh (Islamic State/ISIS). According to Senator Kox, that would be more effective than further intensification of the military interventions in Iraq and Syria. ‘The question is whether these actions accord with international standards,’ he said, ‘and up to now any combined strategy behind these military interventions seems to be lacking.’ The memorandum attached to the resolution as adopted states that it would be better not to pursue military activities but instead as soon as possible achieve a cease-fire in Syria. In Iraq a government must be established which puts an end to the exclusion of major population groups. The international community could then provide both countries with the resources they need to win the fight against Da'esh. In Europe the breeding grounds must be tackled which radicalise some young people and attract them to taking steps towards a terrorist movement. That can be done principally through better education, a social politics and a more inclusive society, Kox states in his report .

The resolution calls on all parliaments in Europe to be alert to the fact that in the fight against terrorism no measures should be taken which make unacceptable inroads into the constitutional state. To this end it requests the Council of Europe’s legal experts, known as the Venice Commission, to investigate whether the new laws regarding the calling and prolonging of a state of emergency in France accord with international standards on the rule of law.

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