Bangkok workshop highlights Human Rights and Rule of Law based approaches as crucial to effective counterterrorism

Bangkok (Thailand), 18 December 2013
- Terrorism is a complex and ever-changing transnational phenomenon that continues to pose a major threat to international peace and security. Terrorists are adept at exploiting countries with weak counter-terrorism capabilities, and even countries which do not currently encounter terrorism threats need to ensure adequate counter-terrorism preparedness.

An effective response to these challenges requires national action and international cooperation. It depends heavily on the capacity of national criminal justice systems to administer fair and effective justice for perpetrators of terrorism crimes and to undertake effective preventative measures in accordance with the rule of law.

Accordingly, UNODC's new Regional Programme for Southeast Asia aims to assist member states with strengthening and developing legislative frameworks, policies and strategies against terrorism. Particularly, it actively supports the strengthening of knowledge and skills of criminal justice officers, in accordance with human rights based principles and rule-of-law based standards.

In line with this strategy, UNODC's Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB) and the Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific (ROSEAP) recently held a Workshop on Effective Counterterrorism Investigation and Prosecutions while Respecting Human Rights and the Rule of Law. The workshop was the latest collaborative venture between UNODC TPB the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF).

"Rule-of-law based approaches to counterterrorism enable prosecutors and investigators to build legally sustainable cases, whilst simultaneously emphasising the primacy of international human rights," said UNODC Programme Officer Mr. Hernan Longo. "This is fundamental to comprehensive counterterrorism strategies and essential to the global fight against terrorism."

The event brought together a range of senior criminal justice and law enforcement delegates from Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam. A distinguished representative from the ASEAN Secretariat observed proceedings as an honoured guest, and a number of international counterterrorism experts lent their expertise as specialist resource persons.

A total of 11 sessions were presented by leading counterterrorism practitioners, specialists, and national delegates, addressing key areas of interest, including the UN Universal Framework Against Terrorism, and the GCTF Rabat Memorandum on Good Practices for effective counterterrorism practice in the criminal justice sector. The presentations underscored that effective rule-of-law based counterterrorism strategies relied on a combination of sound regional counterterrorism standards, and robust human rights compliant criminal justice tools.

The workshop was also a forum for participants to discuss, share, and learn from the collective wealth of experience and expertise. Discussions focussed on how various national criminal justice sectors could develop preventative techniques and better equip themselves to legally intervene prior to atrocities taking place. This included the criminalisation, investigation and prosecution of incitement to commit terrorist acts, membership of terrorist organisations, solicitation, recruitment, and financing of terrorism amongst other related offences.