The Role of Parliamentarians in Nexus with the Criminal Justice Sector in Countering Terrorism – A Handbook for Parliamentarians and Criminal Justice Practitioners

Aug 06 2019
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Parliamentarians play an essential role in developing domestic counter-terrorism legislation. Their participation in the field of counter-terrorism also increases the effectiveness of such policies, which benefit from enhanced accountability mechanisms, good governance, civic participation, resources, and adherence to international good practices as well as promoting resilience in society. Counter-terrorism policies are, therefore, an opportunity for strengthening rule of law and human rights. Parliamentarians should equally collaborate with criminal justice practitioners and security agencies to ensure the fundamental measures of the rule of law are in place to protect their citizens. Many states and international actors are updating their legislation to ensure that their national laws are in conformity with international legal standards.

To address these challenges, in 2015 the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ), with support from the European Union, launched the IIJ Parliamentarians Initiative, bringing together more than 250 parliamentarians from 31 countries and 11 regional inter-parliamentary fora from the Middle East, and North, East and West Africa. During the first phase of the initiative, the IIJ led the development of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) Valletta Recommendations Relating to Contributions by Parliamentarians in Developing an Effective Response to Terrorism under the auspices of the GCTF Criminal Justice and Rule of Law Working Group and the leadership of the governments of Switzerland and the United States.

Under phase two, the IIJ – in partnership with parliamentarians and judicial practitioners – published Enhancing the Role of Parliamentarians for Effective Counter Terrorism within the Rule of Law to support and facilitate implementation of the Valletta Recommendations.

Having completed phase three, the IIJ is pleased to announce the publication of The Role of Parliamentarians in Nexus with Criminal Justice Practitioners in Countering Terrorism: A Handbook for Parliamentarians and Criminal Justice Practitioners. This new practitioner-oriented tool – designed in part by parliamentarians for parliamentarians – will help guide the important work of both parliamentarians and criminal justice practitioners in counter-terrorism, by focusing on four key areas:

1.      Key counter-terrorism policies which require, and benefit from, strong engagement by parliamentarians.

2.      The role of parliamentarians in implementing international counter-terrorism good practices at the national level, which has direct bearing on the success and efficacy of international judicial cooperation.

3.      The role of parliamentarians in providing oversight of security and intelligence services in counter-terrorism, including the work of parliamentary committees in preventing human rights violations in the context of intelligence activities.

4.      The role of parliamentarians in responding to current counter-terrorism issues, such as engagement with civil society organisations, developing counternarratives, and addressing the threats of returning Foreign Terrorist Fighters and Homegrown Terrorism.

It is also envisioned that the Handbook will serve as a useful reference for new members of parliaments to help normalise expectations and build consensus around the fundamental role parliamentarians play in building and overseeing counter-terrorism frameworks. It is intended to present means and ways parliamentarians can engage with counter-terrorism policies as part of their mandate and in their legislative and oversight roles, as well as their responsibilities to represent the interests and rights of their constituents. The Handbook will also serve as a useful tool for parliamentary staff, civil society organisations (CSOs), the media, judicial systems, other criminal justice practitioners and actors involved in the counter-terrorism field seeking to understand how to engage with parliamentarians on this topic in order to support their efforts in the formation and implementation of counter-terrorism strategies.

The Handbook refers to good practices and lessons learned about contributions of parliaments and parliamentarians to advancing counter-terrorism policies and provides recommendations to Parliamentarians for best fulfilling their role and meeting their responsibilities to deliver strengthened counter-terrorism policies and practices based on the rule of law.

The Handbook is available in Arabic, English and French.