The IIJ organized the second regional program with the Grand National Assembly of Turkey for parliamentarians in the area of counterterrorism on 20-21 April in Istanbul. Thirty-one parliamentarians from Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Italy, Lebanon, Mali, Malta, Morocco, Senegal, Spain, Turkey, and the European Parliament came together with experts from UNICRI, the African Union, the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of the Mediterranean to refine a set of written good practices for parliamentarians developed by the IIJ.
In his opening speech Mr. Ahmet Aydin, the Vice-Speaker of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, referred to terrorism as an evil targeting not only one nation or religion but the whole humanity. “Combatting terrorism is a prime duty for each parliamentarian since he or she represents collective wisdom and mindfulness of the society and, therefore, should enjoy the right to have societal conscience reflected into political action” Mr. Aydin stressed. He was followed by Mr. Fidos, representative of the EU Delegation to Turkey who emphasized the vital role of parliament to uphold human rights values when pursuing EU policies. Mr. Robert Strang, IIJ Executive Secretary, referred to the active engagement of legislators in CT policies. “Societies which enjoy deep rule of law and justice roots are those successful in ensuring citizens’ security”. Mr. Strang also stressed that “the advancement of the rule of law at the national and international level is essential for societal growth and the full realization of all human rights and fundamental freedoms that, in turn, reinforce the rule of law.” In the course of the second day several parliamentarian highlighted the sensitive tasks legislators have to ensure democratic oversight of the security and intelligence agencies when exercising their functions. During the plenary discussions, participants agreed that parliamentarians requires continued support thought information and curriculum development to timely address terrorism matters.
The regional program was part of a wider EU-funded project with the objective of increasing the engagement of national parliamentarians in responding to terrorism by strengthening their legislative, CVE, and oversight response to terrorism. The IIJ previously organized the inaugural event in Malta in May 2015, a first regional workshop hosted by the House of Representatives of Morocco in October 2015, and a symposium in Brussels in March 2016 all as part of this initiative. The good practices refined during the Istanbul program will be presented by the IIJ at the GCTF’s Criminal Justice and Rule of Law Working Group’s plenary meeting, to be held in Neuchâtel, Switzerland on 3-4 May.