When countering terrorism, States are required to respect international human rights. Further, counter-terrorism measures that violate human rights are counterproductive. They may provoke additional acts of terrorism, undermine the effectiveness of law enforcement, and restrict effective international legal cooperation.
The UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy “recognize[s] that States may require assistance in developing and maintaining … effective and rule of law-based criminal justice systems, and [encourages] them to resort to the technical assistance delivered, inter alia, by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime”.
The Strategy also identifies “lack of the rule of law and violations of human rights” among the “conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism”, and emphasizes that “effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights are not conflicting goals, but complementary and mutually reinforcing”.
UNODC integrates human rights standards into all aspects of its counter-terrorism related legislative assistance and capacity-building work. We support Member States to ensure that domestic counter-terrorism measures are fully compliant with human rights standards and founded on the rule of law.
UNODC has developed, in cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, a training module on Human Rights and Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism as part of UNODC’s Counter-Terrorism Legal Training Curriculum. This tool aims to assist national law enforcement and criminal justice training institutions worldwide to deliver more effective training on the human rights aspects of preventing and combating terrorism.
UNODC also developed a module of the Counter-Terrorism Legal Training Curriculum on Counter-Terrorism in the International Law Context, which includes chapters on international human rights law, international refugee law and international criminal law.
In partnership with Kenyan experts and practitioners, UNODC also developed the Kenya Training Manual on Human Rights and Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism. The manual examines the human rights issues that can arise while investigating, prosecuting, and trying terrorist-based offences, through an analysis of Kenyan, regional, and international law.
In Nigeria, UNODC has been delivering capacity-building assistance to strengthen the investigation and prosecution of serious crimes, including terrorist offences. Through these capacity building activities, UNODC has strengthened Nigerian expertise on the rule of law and human rights throughout the criminal justice process, including support for defense attorneys to ensure the due process and the rights of the accused, techniques for non-coercive interviewing, and mainstreaming gender into the investigation, prosecution, and adjudication of terrorism related cases.
To support these trainings UNODC has also developed a range of practical manuals and modules tailored specifically to Nigeria’s local circumstances including a Nigeria Handbook on Counterterrorism Investigations, a Nigeria Training Module on Gender Dimensions of Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism, and a Nigeria Training Module on Investigative Interviewing.
In 2023, under these projects UNODC delivered training to more than 900 Nigerian criminal justice officials, including investigators, evidence custodians, defence attorneys, prosecutors, and judges, to ensure terrorists are brought to justice and to prevent further acts of terrorism. UNODC further ensured the sustainability of its efforts by creating Nigerian cadres of trainers on human rights and gender in criminal justice responses to terrorism.
As one result of UNODC’s support to Nigeria to address the detention of thousands of terrorism suspects, providing training and practical support to defense attorneys, investigators, and prosecutors, over 2,400 people have been released due to lack of evidence since 2018.