Table of Contents

Research Handbook on International Human Rights Law

Research Handbook on International Human Rights Law

Research Handbooks in International Law series

Edited by Sarah Joseph and Adam McBeth

This innovative and timely Handbook brings together the work of 25 leading human rights scholars from all over the world to consider a broad range of human rights topics.

Chapter 20: Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights

Alex Conte

Subjects: law - academic, human rights, public international law, politics and public policy, human rights


Alex Conte The relationship between terrorism and human rights is a matter that had been reflected upon well before the events of 11 September 2001. Since 9/11, with events such as the establishment of the detention camp at Guantánamo Bay and the proliferation of security and counter-terrorist legislation throughout the world, more attention has been paid to the issue of the extent to which counter-terrorism impacts upon human rights. As noted by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights:1 Some States have engaged in torture and other ill-treatment to counter terrorism, while the legal and practical safeguards available to prevent torture, such as regular and independent monitoring of detention centres, have often been disregarded. Other States have returned persons suspected of engaging in terrorist activities to countries where they face a real risk of torture or other serious human rights abuse, thereby violating the international legal obligation of non-refoulement. The independence of the judiciary has been undermined, in some places, while the use of exceptional courts to try civilians has had an impact on the effectiveness of regular court systems. Repressive measures have been used to stifle the voices of human rights defenders, journalists, minorities, indigenous groups and civil society. Resources normally allocated to social programmes and development assistance have been diverted to the security sector, affecting the economic, social and cultural rights of many. This chapter first considers the general obligation upon States to comply with human rights when countering terrorism, pointing to relevant...

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