International Military and Law Enforcement Leaders Urge Obama to Support Global Counterterrorism Strategies that Prioritize Human Rights

Washington, D.C.— Six international retired military and law enforcement leaders today urged President Obama to make clear during this week’s White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) that violent extremism can be successfully countered only when national security forces adhere to human rights standards.

“We believe that governments and security services that violate human rights and use abusive and heavy-handed security and counterterrorism measures—including torture, ‘disappearing,’ extrajudicial killings, mass arrests, and violent responses to peaceful protests—are undermining their own stability and inflaming extremism by alienating and radicalizing their own citizens,” said a letter sent to President Obama.

The signatories of today’s letter are members of the Bellagio Principles Group (BPG), an international coalition of former senior military and law enforcement officers and officials established to support the work of the Global Security and Human Rights Initiative of Human Rights First. The Bellagio Principles, developed by an international group of former security sector leaders at a conference in Bellagio, Italy in 2011, outline an unambiguous opposition to the use of torture during interrogations, which BPG members regard as ineffective, unreliable, and counterproductive, as well as immoral and illegal.

Members of the group signing today’s letter include: Brigadier General (ret.) Wilson Boinett of Kenya; General Lamine Cisse (ret.), former Commander of the Armed Forces and Minister of the Interior of Senegal; General Ray Henault (ret.), former Chief of the Defense Staff, former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee of Canada; Tariq Parvez, former Director General of the National Investigation Agency, former National Coordinator of the National Counter Terrorism Authority of Pakistan; and, Stephen White, former Assistant Chief Constable and Head of Force Operations for the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and former Special Advisor to the European Union’s Secretary General and Head of Mission for the EU’s Integrated Rule of Law Mission for Iraq from the United Kingdom.

“Acting forcefully and decisively when confronting dangerous extremists is not the same thing as carrying out draconian and arbitrary measures that undermine public trust, alienate people, and push them towards radicalization and extremism; such measures are self-defeating and negate the intended effect of even the most well-planned and well-meaning CVE efforts,” noted the letter’s signatories.


Published on February 18, 2015


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