Strengthening Judicial Response: UNODC's Symposium on Counter-Terrorism

29th February 2024, Islamabad - In a proactive move to bolster the judicial response to terrorism, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) hosted the Annual Symposium for Judges on Counter-Terrorism in Islamabad on February 27-28, 2024. This event, made possible through the generous support of Global Affairs Canada, marked a pivotal moment in the collective endeavor to fortify the counter-terrorism legal framework within Pakistan.

The symposium brought together a distinguished cadre of judges from across Pakistan, delving into the intricacies of adjudicating terrorism cases. The event underscored the critical need for a nuanced understanding of both national and international counter-terrorism measures, with a keen focus on striking a balance between upholding national security and safeguarding fundamental human rights.

The first day of the symposium commenced with a series of insightful sessions, beginning with a comprehensive overview of international approaches to adjudicating terrorism. Led by Ahmer Bilal Soofi, President of the Research Society of International Law (RSIL), discussions navigated through the complexities of integrating modern evidential standards and techniques, best practices in judicial education, and strategies to safeguard the integrity of the judicial process against external interference.

A significant segment of the symposium was dedicated to reviewing the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA) and evaluating the current capabilities of the criminal justice actors. Presentations from provincial judiciary representatives shed light on the challenges and advancements in case management, training curricula for Anti-Terrorism Court (ATC) judges, and the implementation of computerized case management systems.

The second day delved further into legislative and procedural issues within the ATA, emphasizing the implementation of modern evidential standards and techniques, and addressing management inefficiencies, infrastructural needs, and case management. These sessions were instrumental in identifying obstacles to ATC effectiveness, with UNODC moderating discussions aimed at pinpointing and addressing these critical areas.

The symposium not only served as a platform for sharing knowledge and best practices but also facilitated a collaborative environment where judges engaged in meaningful dialogues on enhancing the judicial response to terrorism financing and related crimes. The closing remarks emphasized the importance of continuous learning, judicial independence, and the enforcement and protection of fundamental rights in ATA cases.

This initiative stands as a testament to the UNODC's commitment to supporting Pakistan's counter-terrorism efforts through judicial capacity building and legal reform. With the support of Global Affairs Canada and in close collaboration with National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), the symposium represents a significant step towards achieving a more effective, rights-based approach to counter-terrorism, reinforcing the rule of law and ensuring justice and security for all.


Social Media: