“The impact of the programme on victims, particularly young people, has become increasingly evident over the past two years. Some have returned to university, while others have taken steps to re-build relationships with their families. Some have begun to consider re-entering the workforce, and others have made efforts to improve their physical appearance and accept their disabilities, allowing them to focus on their future,” affirmed Roula Helou, Co-founder and President of AVT-L.
Some of the notable achievements included the enhancement of the skills and knowledge of over 180 individuals representing various Iraqi national agencies with the criminal justice system on the rights of victims of terrorism and on ensuring international standards and regulations were upheld to safeguard the rights of victims, and to strengthen the evidence-based approach to investigating, prosecuting, and adjudicating terrorism cases. Furthermore, the project worked to enhance the role and capabilities of defense attorneys in representing and supporting victims of terrorism during criminal proceedings. Lastly, the project contributed to increasing awareness of the critical need for more collaboration between civil society, media, and national authorities in supporting victims of terrorism. By fostering this integrated and coordinated approach, the project sought to contribute to countering violent extremism that leads to terrorism.
UNODC Executive Director, Ghada Waly, reflected on this subject’s importance and noted that “We must continue to amplify the voices of victims around the world, and let their insights and their resolve guide us towards more effective and sustainable responses. More needs to be done to establish accountability for terrorism-related crimes and to address the conditions conducive to terrorism.”
To mark such achievements of the project and to raise awareness on the importance of the rights of victims of terrorism, UNODC, with support from AVT-L and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI), launched the “Victims’ Voices, Silencing Terrorism” Campaign. The Campaign was conducted in June 2023 through a combination of social media outreach and on-the-ground presence in Baghdad, Iraq. The campaign reached 23 million people in Iraq and the Middle East and North Africa region and focused on providing an alternative narrative to that of terrorist groups by raising awareness of the resilience of victims of terrorism and the importance of having their voices heard. The messages and stories they tell have the power to silence the negative and harmful fear-oriented messages spread by terrorist groups. The campaign featured several victims of terrorism supported by the project, as they used their voices to tell their own stories of resilience and overcoming and spoke of how more victims should be encouraged to do the same. The campaign also highlighted the importance of understanding who is a victim of terrorism, what are victims’ needs, the role of the community, and the achievements of the project.
This story, the last in a five-part series, marks the International Day of Remembrance of and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism
on 21 August. This year, on the sixth commemoration of this International Day, we must reflect on the powerful voices of victims of terrorism as they create meaningful and positive change by raising awareness about the long-lasting impact of terrorism and by honouring those whose lives were lost and those whose lives were forever altered.