Kritiek Amnesty op Europese anti-terreurmaatregelen (en)
Auteur: | By Lucia Kubosova
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS - European counter-terrorism measures lack concrete human rights safeguards, which leads to legal confusion and breaches in human rights, according to Amnesty International.
In a report presented on Tuesday (31 May), the organisation challenged the claims by Brussels that there could be no security without human rights, suggesting "in practice, the EU and the Member States are too often prepared to remain silent on breaches of rights protection within or outside the EU".
The paper examines the legislation introduced at EU level after the 2001 terrorist attacks in the US.
It argues the proceedings against terrorist suspects tend to turn into violations of their human rights. Miscarriages of justice in such cases leave the real perpetrators at liberty, while some societal groups feel unfairly targeted in the fight againts terrorism.
The paper points to some concrete cases in several EU countries, mainly in the UK, Spain and France.
"Our main conclusion is that the counter-terrorism effort itself can be undermined if it leads to breaches of human rights or does not prevent it effectively", said Dick Oosting, Director of the AI Brussels offfice.
Gijs de Vries, the EU's chief for counter-terrorism, argued that the Union does pay attention to the issue and tries to balance its approach with human rights safeguards.
However, he pointed out "we should not forget that terrorism precludes the fundamental right - right of life, as well as other rights.. Our fight against terrorism is the fight to protect those rights".
What exactly is terrorism?
Amnesty argues that the Commission should rethink its definition of "terrorism", as in its current form it is too ambiguous to provide legal certainty for dealing with terrorist suspects.
It also questions the legislation concerning terrorist black lists, as they have been established without sufficient democratic scrutiny and "there is no judical supervision regarding inclusion on them, while individuals placed on them are effectively deprived of an effective remedy to challenge their inclusion".
The paper has expressed concerns over the proposed minimum standards on procedural rights for terrorist suspects and defendants.
According to Mr Oosting, it is "unacceptable" that terrorist and organized crime offences could be excluded from the scope of those standards.
Safe and unsafe cooperation
The NGO calls on the Union to carefully consider its cooperation with third countries in counter-terrorism initiatives.
The EU has so far one extradition agreement with the US, which "leaves an unacceptable margin of discretion with regard to the death penalty and fair trial", according to the paper.
But Mr de Vries argues "We can't make Europe safe unless we cooperate with other countries", pointing to the other cooperation deals with Russia and Mediterranean countries.
"When negotiating them, we explicitly stated the counter-terrorism measures should not go against the human rights principles", he said.
"War on terror"
Amnesty points to the cases of transfering suspects across borders that bypass the requirements of due process, like "extraordinary rendition", expulsion with diplomatic assurances and illegal abduction.
The "increasingly worrying trend" has been registered within the context of the "war on terror," mainly carried out by the US, according to its paper.
However, it criticises the EU member states for allowing their territory to be used as landing points for planes involved in renditions, as well as their air space to allow these transfers.
"Media and other reports state that Frankfurt, Mallorca and Shannon airports are known stop-off points for unmarked CIA jets carrying irregular renditions," according to the document.
It accuses the countries allowing this to happen of "colluding in serious breaches of human rights."
Extradition and asylum
The paper argues that the EU fails to give enough attention to credible concerns about the possible abuse of terorist suspects when they are sent outside the bloc's borders.
The EU's final draft directive on asylum procedures makes it possible for member states to extradite asylum seekers while their asylum application is still pending, which can lead to sending them to a country where they may face serious human rights violations.