Council of Europe upcoming work on human rights and the fight against terrorism

The Council of Europe’s Committee on Legal Affairs and Human rights is currently preparing two reports in the context of human rights and counterterrorism. One report is entitled “Abuse of state secrecy and national security: obstacles to parliamentary and judicial scrutiny of human rights violations” and it will address some of the legal and policy issues which the Rapporteur, Mr Marty, encountered in the course of preparing his reports on renditions and secret detentions. It shall primarily focus on the question of accountability for human rights violations committed by members of special services.

Mr. Tomlinson will write a more general report on to examine the compatibility of counter-terrorism legislation and its application with the Council of Europe standards applicable to human rights.

In this context, it aims to look at the way in which member states may encroach upon the human rights of suspected terrorists or even of journalists or members of the public at large, who suffer restrictions of different kinds in the name of the fight against terrorism.

It appears that Mr. Tomlinson will mainly focus on detention, fair trial and expulsion issues. He will also focus on states’ activities such as surveillance, interception, hearing of anonymous witnesses, the installation and (ab)use of closed-circuit television and monitoring of monetary movements. Also, it would be interesting to look into how member states may or may not use information obtained by secret services as legally admissible evidence and how they can resort to data from, e.g., ID cards and SWIFT operations.

The report intends to build on a previous memorandum by Mr Grebennikov of 2006.


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