Preventing Security Measures from Eclipsing Human Rights

Human Rights Are the Core of the Answer rather than an Obstacle to Addressing Terrorism

Adopted by the participants of the OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference
Vienna, 5-6 December 2017

The OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference 2017,

Recognizing the significant threat that terrorism and violent extremism pose to peace, security and stability in the OSCE region as well as to the enjoyment of human rights and social and economic development;

Appalled by terrorist attacks across and beyond the OSCE region, and affirming our solidarity with the victims of these attacks;

Convinced of the high priority that governments should place on devising and implementing effective counter-terrorism strategies;

Concerned that increasingly authorities across the OSCE region have been introducing measures that limit human rights in the context of the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, also using conflict as a pretext, including by:

  • the use of prolonged ‘states of emergency’ to avoid accepted human rights safeguards,
  • subjecting suspects to incommunicado detention, enforced disappearances or extrajudicial executions,
  • employing, abetting, or not prosecuting torture or ill-treatment of terrorism suspects,
  • unlawfully detaining people and keeping detainees in extended pre-trial custody, without a fair trial or without a trial at all,
  • denying suspects access to a lawyer, or persecuting lawyers defending their clients,
  • initiating legal reforms that threaten the independence of lawyers and thus jeopardize the protection of human rights, respect for rule of law, and access to justice,
  • submitting detainees to prison conditions that violate international standards, including by disregarding gender specific needs, especially those of women with children,
  • restricting the right to seek asylum,
  • advancing their anti-immigration agenda by stereotyping or using stigmatizing speech to depict asylum seekers and ethnic or religious minorities as potential terrorists and a security threat, thereby fomenting xenophobia and racism,
  • giving generalized permission to security agencies for the surveillance of electronic communications, and the exchange of personal data, with no or limited prior judicial oversight, rather than focusing on providing means for targeted surveillance of persons who are suspected of terrorist involvement,
  • limiting the access to public space for peaceful protests and labelling participants of protests as state enemies, security threats, extremists or terrorists,
  • restricting and downsizing social security policies in order to increase funds for militarization policies, at the expense of women and disadvantaged groups,
  • outsourcing security and policing to private companies and thereby impeding democratic human rights based control,
  • allowing law enforcement officers to engage in searches of premises without prior judicial permission,
  • politically-motivated prosecution of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and political opposition on terrorism related charges and limiting their access to international organizations and mechanisms,
  • instigating smear campaigns against critics of unlawful methods of fighting terrorism and subjecting them to harassment and persecution,
  • adopting laws with vague and broad definitions of “extremism” and arbitrarily employing the ‘extremism’ concept to prosecute persons who do not call for, let alone are preparing for, violence,
  • employing non-transparent policies for removal of persons from public office,
  • providing law enforcement and other government agencies with insufficient guidance on human rights, gender and conflict sensitivity  and against ethnic profiling.
Issue Brief

Published on December 6, 2017


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