Amnesty International blasts EU

In a detailed analysis of the European Union’s counter-terrorism initiatives in the area of criminal law since 9-11, Amnesty International claims the absence of concrete human rights safeguards in many of these initiatives is likely to undermine efforts to fight terrorism in Europe. “Respect for human rights is often portrayed as hampering efforts to defeat terrorism but this new analysis shows how genuine security is undermined if basic human rights and the rule of law are not respected. It is in the breach, not in the protection of human rights that security is put at risk. That goes for the EU as well as anywhere else in the world,” Dick Oosting, director of Amnesty International’s EU Office told a press conference in Brussels May 31.

Amnesty International’s 40-page analysis “Human Rights Dissolving at the Borders? Counter-terrorism and EU Criminal Law” – the first analysis of its type of the overall implications of the EU’s recent counter-terrorism initiatives in the area of criminal law – was presented today to the EU’s Counter-Terrorism Coordinator Gijs de Vries.

The report named numerous areas of concern, including:
· terrorist blacklists, that define “terrorism” too vaguely
· admissibility of evidence obtained by torture
· extradition and expulsion of terrorist suspects to third countries.

“After surveying a wide range of counter-terrorism initiatives at EU level, it is clear that the lack of concrete, legally-binding human rights safeguards is not only leading to serious breaches of human rights but has created legal confusion and uncertainty,” Dick Oosting said. “Cross-border cooperation to prosecute and remove people suspected of terrorist involvement is increasing, but fundamental human rights safeguards are being left behind at the borders.”

Amnesty International’s analysis states that the notion of a “war on terror” is helping to create a legal limbo, and that it is in no-one’s interests and certainly not in the interest of security, to obtain a wrongful conviction in a terrorist trial or to cooperate blindly with countries that do not respect human rights or the rule of law, thus giving their methods legitimacy.” (AI press release, May 31)

The report comes just after Amnesty’s 2005 annual report had unprecedently harsh criticism for the US.