You're Here: Home > Keynotes > Freedom, Security and Civil Liberties (Part 2)

Contents: Keynotes, Panels, Sessions

March 9, 2005

Freedom, Security and Civil Liberties (Part 2)

(Continued from: Freedom, Security and Civil Liberties (Part 1))

Terry Davis
Thank you very much. First of all, let me say that for 34 years as an active politician in the United Kingdom, I lived and worked under the threat of terrorism; I had colleagues who were killed by terrorism. But as the Secretary-General of the Council of Europe for the last few months, I would argue that I agree with Robert Goldman that the idea of balance between on the one hand human rights and on the other hand effective measures to deal with terrorism is a false balance and a false dilemma.

In practice, I do not believe there has been a problem as big as some people claim and I was very interested in what Ambassador Dezcallar said, because his experience is that human rights have always prevailed over security. I would prefer to say that human rights have always been reconciled with security or the other way round, rather than prevailed, because I don’t find in the experience I have had at the Council of Europe that there has been a problem as big as some people claim.

Nicholas Howen said that governments sweep away protection of human rights, but I think it depends which governments you look at. The fact is we can all criticise what has happened in the United States of America, and I certainly do. It’s interesting that his other examples were from other continents, but in Europe there’s only one country where legally human rights have been changed, and that’s the United Kingdom, which is the one country in Europe he mentioned, practically with the Antiterrorism, Crime and Security Act. The experience at the Council of Europe has been that we can combine and provide security without sacrificing civil liberties, human rights and the rule of law.

I would argue that we have taken effective measures and I give you as an example that within a few months of September 11, the governments of the Council of Europe – there are 46 governments now and those that have joined since 2002 are expected to sign up to these measures– adopted some guidelines for human rights and the fight against terrorism, which specify the limits of state action.

I’ll give you some examples: the European governments decided to prohibit arbitrary measures and any measures based on discriminatory or racist treatment; the European governments reaffirmed the absolute prohibition of torture; the European governments confirmed there should be legal guarantees in the case of arrest and police custody and pre-trial detention including the right –and this was specified and spelt out– to be brought promptly before a judge; confirmed the right to a fair trial; prohibited extradition to a country where there was any risk of someone being sentenced to death or tortured; and argued that in the struggle against terrorism we must maintain respect for international law and especially international humanitarian law.

And it didn’t stop there, because quite recently we’ve issued a declaration on freedom of expression and information […] So I would argue that the real problem is not that human-rights protection has been swept away; the real problem is that in some countries, including some European countries, practice has been outside the law.

With the exception of the UK and their famous derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights, the other European countries have not done that, but it is certainly true that in some countries, including some European countries, governments have allowed the security forces to act with impunity and outside the law. I think that is a problem and that is where we should concentrate our attention.

Thank you Chairman.


Irene Khan
I’ve been listening with great interest to all the speakers on the panel, because they’ve been destroying some myths, but also recognising some truths. The myth is that terrorism is not new, although its scale and intensity may be greater now than ever before. The myth is also that the struggle between national security and human rights is not new either. What is new is the way in which democratic countries have been seduced into thinking that restricting liberty leads to an automatic increase in our security. And what is new is labelling terrorism as war in some situations, even though there are no conventional battlefields.

Now, recognising the truths: terrorism is an abuse of human rights. March 11 and September 11 were crimes against humanity and they have to be condemned by everyone unequivocally. The truth is also that all states have the right and duty to protect people from terrorist attacks; no-one disputes that. And, of course, all states have the obligation to carry out that responsibility while respecting human rights; and this is where the dispute begins, because laws, policies and practices show that many counterterrorism measures violate human rights. The right not to be arbitrarily or indefinitely detained, the right to a fair trial, the right not to be tortured, the right to equal protection under the law, the right to be presumed innocent. These are all abuses that have taken place or are taking place in democratic countries, including democratic countries in Europe, and it is not only in the United Kingdom, I would beg to say.

I agree with Terry, of course, that the Council of Europe and the European institutions and systems of law prohibit torture absolutely, yet European countries have returned people to countries where they have been tortured, and have knowingly returned them, which is contrary to the European Convention on Human Rights.

Then there is the discriminatory nature of many of these counterterrorism measures. Your security is at the price of my liberty. You may be subjected to only about thirty minutes more of checks at the airport, but I, as a Muslim, could easily be stopped, searched, and even detained or deported. An atmosphere in which policies and practices actually create that kind of division can only breed resentment and create greater insecurity.

There is very little assessment of whether these measures legal, policy or practice, are actually necessary, proportionate and effective. Indeed, there has been a deliberate effort in many situations to restrict judicial review and parliamentary debate and discourse by rushing through legislation and, as other speakers have mentioned, the deliberate efforts of the US Administration in particular to place counterterrorism measures outside the domain of the rule of law. The use of the language of war here is very interesting and this use is deliberate I think, because by labelling it as war on terror, the Administration is trying to say that human rights don’t apply, but by labelling it as a war on terror, they are also saying that international humanitarian law is outdated and doesn’t apply and so you create a nice legal black hole.

Now the other important point about these practices is that what happens in some countries has a certain export value. Nicholas mentioned travelling to Nepal; I was actually in Nepal two weeks ago, just a few days after the state of emergency was declared. People are suffering as much from the Maoist attacks as from the counterterrorism measures of the state. And there have been many governments who have seen this language of security, if not its actual application, as a licence to continue their own repressive policies. Chechnya, Egypt and China are examples. The Zimbabwean government has labelled journalists as terrorists.

Counterterrorism measures not only violate human rights, they actually weaken democracy, because the concept of democracy has in it the inherent notion of individual rights. Repressive laws encourage secrecy and lack of accountability. And it’s not just bad for human rights and democracy; secret laws are also bad for security, because if you don’t know what is happening, how do you know that the people locked up in Guantánamo Bay are the actual culprits? And if they’re not the actual culprits, where are the actual culprits? They’re walking out on the streets and are a bigger threat to you because you have no means of scrutinising your intelligence and security agencies.

Finally in terms of truths, at the end of the day what we are talking about is a battle for values. One set of values against another set of values. One set of values based on violence and hatred and another set of values based on respect for the individual and moral and legal standards. What does the curtailment of liberty then do to our society, the kind of society we want to preserve. I think that is a very, very important question to ask, because it’s important to get the risk and response in balance. In most democracies, it’s not the terrorist attack that actually creates the greater damage; it is very often the response to that attack. Think of Peru, Columbia and also Northern Ireland in the 1970s, where I lived, and what internment did there. So is it possible to protect people from terrorism and protect their rights at the same time? Are liberty and security compatible? A number of our panellists believe that it is, but as Terry said, the devil is in the detail here.

Human rights and security are not only mutually reinforcing, but also actually strengthen a government’s legal and moral case for fighting terrorism, which is why governments wish to reconcile human rights with counterterrorism measures, but in reality without controls and checks. That wish is nothing but a good intention.

And this is where it is important to recognise the limits the rule of law places on executive power. That’s the balance between security and human rights. Restrictions on liberty must be seen precisely as that and must pass tests. I would say the test of dignity. Do they violate individual dignity? This is where the absolute prohibitions on torture come in, because torture corrupts humanity. Torture corrupts both the victim as well as the torturer. Are the restrictions legal? Do they come within the framework of the rule of international law, under which certain rights can be derogated under certain conditions, but other rights cannot be derogated? Then there is the rule of necessity; are these restrictions absolutely necessary? Are they proportionate to the problem and are they subject to open and independent review by courts as well as by parliament?

Judicial review, as some of the panellists have pointed out, is very, very important; but equally important, I would say, is the democratic review produced by parliament. The ability of civil society to act, debate and participate in these discussions, because at the end of the day our real protection doesn’t come from our governments or laws, but from our own convictions and beliefs in our values. I think what is very important for us when dealing with human rights is the principle of universality. Human rights are for the best of us and for the worst of us, and that is a very tough test we as human beings have to confront when we live in an environment of fear. And it is an environment of fear, but as I said earlier, I don’t think your security will be enhanced if I don’t feel secure about my rights. I think that is the real test we have to live up to. So act, but do not overreact.

Let me end by telling you two stories. One was in Burundi in September 2002. I was visiting Burundi and just ten days before I arrived there, there had been a very bad massacre in a village and I was told there were only three survivors in a local hospital. I went there to meet the survivors and I was taken into a big, empty room. I was sitting there with my interpreter and the door opened and the survivor walked in. She was a child of about five. I guessed she was five, because of course she didn’t know her age. She remembered her first name, but not her family name, but she remembered in vivid detail the way in which she had watched her family being killed, her baby brother being burned. She was wounded, but because she was small she was able to crawl between the legs of the soldiers and get out of the room. The next day I had an appointment with President Buyoya and of course I was angry and I asked him what he was going to do to stop these kinds of massacres. He turned to me and said. ‘Madam, you do not understand. We are talking here about national security.’ Obviously this little child, her name was Claudine, her security did not figure in that. And that is the problem of many strategies of national security which seek to deal with terror. A system that does not protect all of us is not good for any of us.

At the end of the day, people want justice, not revenge, so let me end with a second story, which is in the news, the story from Northern Ireland of the family of Robert McCartney, who was killed in January and the IRA has offered to shoot the murders of this man. The family has said that they don’t want revenge; they want justice. They want the killers to be brought to a fair trial. So at the end of the day, I think we know in our hearts what is justice, what is right and wrong, but it is very important that we are ready to live those values and are ready to put them on the table and remember that our security in today’s world is not bound by national boundaries or within us; it is bound in a global society. Therefore, what happens in Europe will affect elsewhere, and what happens elsewhere will also affect Europe. It is not enough to have a system of values and human rights in Europe, but to work to see how we can get them beyond the borders of Europe.

We have had five very important presentations. I would like to take some questions from the floor and then ask our panellists to respond not only to the questions, but also to what has been raised here right now.


Delegate from the floor
Gracias, señor presidente. Mi nombre es Salman Nasyr […?]. Yo soy profesor de Derecho Constitucional de la Universidad de San Pablo CEU. Soy miembro de la Autoridad Superior de la Magistratura de Irak y soy asesor mayor de la Corte Especial de Irak. Es la primera vez que tomo la palabra hoy invitado a este evento, democracia, libertad, seguridad. Un poco paradójico: la democracia, yo no sé lo que quiere decir democracia. Subscribo ante todo la palabra de don Jorge Dezcallar, que señala efectivamente problemas reales que nos encontramos hoy. Pero, ¿por qué? ¿De dónde vienen estos problemas? ¿Dónde está el problema?

En Irak acabo de incorporarme a la carrera judicial que yo había estudiado y vivido toda la vida aquí en España, en Europa; estaba dando clases en Bélgica, en Francia, en Suecia, en Suiza, y aquí en España y hoy voy a Irak. Claro, si me voy a Irak me tengo que llevar un chaleco antibalas, ir en un coche antibalas y estar bajo guardaespaldas. ¿Esto es libertad? No es libertad. Voy allí para darles democracia y me quieren matar. ¿Esto es lo que quieren?

Si nosotros queremos dar libertad y queremos dar democracia al mundo árabe, de esta forma eso no vale. Y a cualquiera le matarán. Y yo soy de allí y me quieren matar. Ya la semana pasada mataron a un compañero. La democracia allí no es lo que nosotros entendemos y no significa democracia hacer un Parlamento ni hacer unas elecciones, porque en Irak, hace seis semanas ha habido unas elecciones. ¿Dónde está el Parlamento? Estaba ahí esta mañana el viceministro de Asuntos Exteriores. No contestó la pregunta. Hace seis semanas ha habido elecciones parlamentarias; todavía el gobierno iraquí no quiere convocar a la Asamblea que se reúna ¿por qué? Porque el gobierno en funciones ha perdido las elecciones y si convoca la asamblea tiene que salir. El actual mismísimo gobierno no quiere respetar las reglas de la democracia.

Allí nosotros, yo lo digo desde un punto de vista técnico jurídico, yo soy un jurista y no soy un político. Se necesitan instituciones de defensa, instituciones de defensa de los derechos y los valores en los que nosotros creemos. Queremos implantarlos, quizás no lo aceptan pero por lo menos [...] por unas instituciones, justicia, jueces independientes, fiscales independientes, fiscalía anticorrupción; porque la corrupción está de arriba abajo, en Irak, en Jordania. Les aseguro que en Jordania cada cuatro años hay elecciones y cada cuatro años se cambia el Parlamento pero al fin y al cabo ningún ciudadano puede demandar al gobierno por cualquier asunto de responsabilidad pública, no existe la responsabilidad pública. Por lo tanto el ciudadano se ve agobiado y cuando se ve agobiado, ¿ a quién acusa? A Occidente.
Porque Occidente apoya a Oriente, porque Oriente está así. Hombre, Occidente no apoya a Oriente, lo que pasa es que Occidente no entiende a Oriente correctamente. Lo estamos entendiendo mal y si queremos poner una Democracia allí pues vamos a hacer bolígrafos con la palabra Democracia y repartirla a todo el Tercer Mundo y así cada ciudadano se levanta por la mañana y tiene la palabra Democracia delante y así tiene Democracia. Eso no es, eso no es.

Necesitan Democracia, necesitan respetarse, necesitan unas instituciones, un juez que sea competente a llamar al Gobierno y decirle, oiga, venga usted a convocar la Asamblea, tiene que convocar la Asamblea y si usted no convoca la Asamblea, lo pongo en la cárcel. Ningún juez en Irak ahora mismo, con todo esto que se ha hecho, ningún juez es capaz de hacerlo. Y ningún fiscal lo puede instar.

Esta mañana, salió en la prensa un artículo (que acabo de leer esta mañana) llamando a la Fiscalía –yo soy un juez–, llamando a la Fiscalía que presente una solicitud para que llamemos al Gobierno. Ningún fiscal es capaz de llamar al Gobierno. Todo el mundo tiene miedo. ¿Esta es la Democracia? Se necesita luchar con unas instituciones que defiendan la Democracia y que la entiendan de forma técnica, que podrán en el futuro cooperar con Occidente. Porque el sistema jurídico es la especia y la Democracia es el resultado. Por tanto un sistema jurídico no puede funcionar si no tiene un dinamismo interno y un [...] externo que es lo que necesitamos implantar. Dinamismo interno dentro de los propios estados que acusamos de terrorismo y con ello dialogamos externamente para servirles y cooperar con ellos. Muchas gracias.

Le agradezco por su ponencia y también por un testigo importante de una situación muy límite como usted la planteó.

The floor is open to questions.

Delegate on the floor
I’m Juan Pablo Raymond from the British Institute of International and Comparative Law. I think one of the issues that was missing in the panel, although I think Jorge Dezcallar mentioned it, was that as human-rights advocates, I don’t think we’re carrying the population with us in the discourse. Especially in the United Kingdom, for example, most of the press seems to portray a vision where if we’re scared, it’s okay to give away some of our civil liberties in exchange for security. I just wondered whether anyone had any ideas as to how we can engage the population so they understand how crucial it is to keep our civil liberties.

Delegate from the floor
Antonio de Ory, de la Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores y de Cooperación.

A partir del 11 de septiembre, como es lógico, se ha reforzado la Agenda de Derechos Humanos tendente a garantizar el respeto a los derechos humanos en la lucha contra el terrorismo. No podía ser de otra manera y no debía ser de otra manera, y esto es por supuesto encomiable.

A mí me parece sin embargo que junto al encomiable principio de defensa de los derechos humanos en la lucha contra el terrorismo, hay elementos quizás no tan encomiables, dos aporías digamos que van, que acompañan al principio de que hay que proteger los derechos humanos en el combate al terrorismo se usan como una excusa para violar los derechos humanos, como si violar los derechos humanos fuera en todo caso algo que todo país que combate el terrorismo o que dice combatirlo. Quiero decir, en todo caso fuera algo que quiere hacer, es decir, quiere violar derechos humanos y usa el terrorismo como una excusa.

La segunda es muy relacionada y es que el terrorismo, la lucha contra el terrorismo en todo caso viola los derechos humanos. Yo creo que no es así, ni la primera ni la segunda, no siempre el combate contra el terrorismo viola o tiene que violar los derechos humanos. ¿Qué hacemos con países democráticos, plenamente democráticos, garantistas, donde rige el Estado de Derecho pero que lamentablemente sufren el terrorismo? A todos nos gustaría ser Islandia, o Liechtenstein. A mí me encantaría que en España tuviéramos la situación que tienen en Liechtenstein o en Islandia donde no han visto un atentado terrorista en su vida. Qué suerte. Pero ¿qué hacemos en países democráticos garantistas, donde rigen constituciones avanzadas y donde se respeta plenamente el estado de derecho cuando tenemos que proteger la seguridad humana, y digo la seguridad humana, no la seguridad nacional? Tenemos que proteger la vida, la dignidad, los derechos de los ciudadanos haciéndolo de una forma a la vez plenamente, garantista y respetuosa de los derechos humanos.

¿Qué hacemos con un discurso que parece a veces dar a entender que en todo caso el combate contra el terrorismo, repito en todo caso, viola los derechos humanos? ¿Cómo podemos empezar a entendernos? Porque si no nos entendemos, finalmente los dos discursos van a ir por su lado. El discurso de la comunidad de derechos humanos y el discurso de la comunidad, digamos, que combate el terrorismo, de la comunidad de seguridad.

Es un debate interesante que he tenido a veces con Nicholas [...] ¿cómo hacer que esos dos discursos, en países democráticos que no son países violadores, que no son países que tienen problemas, siquiera de seguridad nacional y que por tanto no necesitan excusas para violar los derechos humanos, es más, que no quieren violar los derechos humanos, no tienen ningún interés, les gustaría, nos gustaría no tener terrorismo, ser Islandia pero lamentablemente no lo somos ¿qué hacer?

Porque a mí me gustaría que en estos debates también además... –llevamos dos años desde el 11 de septiembre oyendo con insistencia algo que es fundamental y, repito, está bien que nos lo digan; es necesario que se nos repita que hay que respetar los derechos humanos en la lucha contra el terrorismo–, pero quizás ya es el momento, dos años después del 11 de septiembre, de dar un paso más adelante y empezar a dialogar unas comunidades y otras, la comunidad de derechos humanos y la comunidad de la seguridad sobre cómo hacerlo, y cómo hacerlo bien.

Por ejemplo, si a un país como el nuestro, país occidental, democrático, garante de nuevo, se le dice no a la incomunicación en ningún caso, no a la dispersión de presos en ningún caso, señor ministro, no nos estamos entendiendo porque es imposible –y esto lo digo aquí en un foro cerrado lógicamente. No nos vamos a entender. Si empezamos a hablar de cómo vamos a hacer la incomunicación de forma que no viole los derechos humanos, garantías judiciales, médicos forenses, abogados, pleno acceso, cuántos días, cuántas horas, entonces nos estamos entendiendo. Si no, estamos hablando como si fuéramos Islandia. Si decimos no a la dispersión de presos en ningún caso, cuando se muestra necesaria y no hablamos de cómo hacerla de forma que se respeten derechos. Tendremos que dar un paso adelante. A empezar a ver cómo en países de nuevo garantistas, democráticos, pero que tienen un problema y una exigencia de su población de respetar la seguridad y de proteger la seguridad humana, no seguridad nacional, seguridad humana, cómo hacerlo y cómo hacerlo bien y ahí las dos comunidades pueden entenderse, si no seguirán de espaldas y habrá un momento que pase lo que dice este señor de aquí a mi izquierda, que las sociedades no van a entendernos a los que venimos, digamos, del lado de los derechos humanos. Gracias.

Gracias, gracias por la presentación de las dos aporías.

I think we had three comments from the floor and I will pass the word to our panellists in the inverse order in which they started. I think the three questions put to us are relevant because we talked about these challenges before.

First: how do you handle very limiting, extreme situations, such as the situation in Iraq, which was so eloquently conveyed to us this afternoon?

Point two: how do you deal with public opinion and changes in the mood of public opinion as a result of issues that come to the forefront?

And third: how do you handle this interaction between security and civil liberties and how do you deal with the community that is interested in and responsible for security and the community that is interested in and devoted to the issue of human rights?

Irene Khan
Let me start first with the issue of how we carry public opinion. I agree with you that as human-rights activists we have failed miserably. There is one single indictment of our failure as activists over the last three or four years: our inability to carry the man or woman on the street on this particular issue. That is because human rights has become a system of laws – and I say that as a lawyer – in which we talk about violations of the Convention against Torture, not of the corruption of human values by torture. We have to make it a value-based discussion for the people on the street. It’s not human rights, but justice they understand, so we have to speak that language of what it really matters to people. Do you want to live in a bunker and be safe or do you want to be out there, even if you know you won’t have 100% security, but you’d rather be free than fearful? So I think there’s a huge job there in terms of a values debate.

Then, moving on to the other questions, I think there is a great interrelationship between the person who spoke about Iraq and the person who spoke about dealing with terrorist attacks in democratic societies. The one point today we are talking about is that violence of this type is global in nature. Those who attacked the World Trade Center were not born or brought up in the United States; they were born in one country, trained in another and came and committed their abuses somewhere else.

Similarly, what happened here in Madrid; the nationalities that were affected, the nationalities that perpetrated those abuses came from many different countries. So I think it’s wrong for us to think we can create a system that protects Europe and we can all live happily as long as we protect ourselves there, as long as we protect our security. As I said, if you don’t protect my security, you’re not going to be safe.

This is where the interrelationship between the abuses taking place in the rest of the world and what is happening in our own society in terms of lack of integration, of people who feel excluded, who have no stake in society and how they turn against that society. It’s very, very important to understand that, because I think our language of terrorism has become such that terrorism is almost defined as terror against the West by the rest. In that kind of situation, you are going to alienate precisely those who you need to understand and realise political violence is not the right way to go and there are other means of participating in society. So it’s that inclusion and integration that has to be done at the national level, community level and global level.

We’ve talked about human rights largely in terms of civil and political rights – fair trial, torture and detention – but there are huge areas of economic and social rights, the failures of which are creating great insecurity in people. Most people in the world are not threatened today by urban terrorism, but by prolonged conflict, poverty, HIV-Aids, domestic violence, the proliferation of small arms, etc.; and unless those issues are tackled, you will have pockets of discontent and disaffection where terrorism will breed. And they will come and bite you here. That’s why one needs a global strategy: it’s a global problem and it needs a comprehensive global response in dealing with collective security.

Terry Davis
I’d like to comment on two or three things, including something that Irene said earlier, because she referred to people being returned to countries where they have subsequently been tortured or were likely to be tortured. I think this is a huge issue, the whole issue of deportation. Deportation is the old-fashioned way to deal with terrorists. It’s the 19th-century method of dealing with terrorism, because it certainly dates before aviation. The development of aviation has meant that it is no longer a way of preventing terrorism. We can see that most vividly in the case of the World Trade Center. Yes, the planes took off in the United States of America and hit New York and Washington, but in the case of Europe, the planes could take off in France and hit Germany or the United Kingdom or wherever. They could take off in Morocco, Algeria or Tunisia and hit Europe. So in the case of deportation, it is not an effective way of dealing with the terrorist threat.

And secondly, on this question of deportation, it is, of course, illegal in the 46 member countries of the Council of Europe to deport someone to a country where they are likely to be either executed or subject to inhumane and degrading treatment. There was a case decided in the European Court of Human Rights, part of the Council of Europe, about eight years ago called the Chahal case, where a Sikh took action against the British government because the Indian government were trying to extradite him; and he won the case in Strasbourg and the court said he could not be deported because he would be subjected to inhumane and degrading treatment in India and as a result he was set free. But that case had tremendous implications not only for the United Kingdom, because actually that case is a genesis of the Antiterrorism, Crime and Security Act of three years ago in the United Kingdom, but it also applies to all the other member states in the Council of Europe.

The problem is the dissemination of that knowledge. Irene’s right, because I’m a member of Amnesty International, so I’ve seen the notices telling us about people who’ve been deported by countries for whom I have great respect in their record for human rights. They have deported to other countries after an agreement, and those agreements have not been honoured. The question becomes what is then done, and that is where we should be critical of European governments for not doing something about the breach of the agreement, which has happened more than once and – as far as I know – nothing has happened as a result of the agreement not being kept. The United Kingdom actually has not done that; they are now talking about it, but that’s why Belmarsh exists, because they will not and cannot deport those people to their country of origin. Amnesty International has done a good job and I think they should do more in publicising these deportations to countries where the deportees have subsequently been abused, to put it mildly.

The second point I wanted to make was one I was trying to make earlier. I regret very much that this international discussion is dominated by the experience we have with the United States of America. It’s been very interesting listening to my colleagues on the panel how often the examples given have been from the United States of America: Guantánamo Bay keeps cropping up. Certainly there are grounds for strong criticism about what’s happened on other continents, but that’s not been what’s happened in Europe. In Europe, with the exception of the United Kingdom, the problem has been people acting outside the law, often agents of the state acting illegally, and with impunity. That’s a real criticism that should be made about what is happening in Chechnya; not that the Russian laws are defective, but they’re not being enforced, where 2,000 people can disappear and 1,600 people we still don’t know what happened to them, and the case isn’t being investigated. Now there I do have a lot of sympathy with the critics.

But on the very important question raised by the gentleman back there about not carrying the population with us, absolutely right, but that’s not unique: we don’t carry the population with us over the abolition of the death penalty. It does come back to this issue, and the British press are a unique case. We don’t carry the population with us and Irene’s right when she says we don’t talk enough about values, but I would apply that not only to human rights, but also to democracy […] Simply to abolish the death penalty, we needed to persuade the people that it was the right thing to abolish the death penalty and there are very few countries where that’s been done.


Jorge Dezcallar [?]
Muchas gracias. Yo voy a tratar de contestar sucintamente las tres preguntas que ha planteado la presidencia. Cómo manejar una situación extrema a la que se ha referido Robert Goldman al principio. Mire, yo Irak desde luego lo veo como un enfermo con la barriga abierta encima de la mesa de operaciones. Lo primero que hay que hacerle es un cosido y un cosido bueno, está en la UVI y entonces cada cosa a su tiempo. Si el cosido no está bien hecho, la cirugía estética quedará mal el día de mañana. Quiero decir que lo que se haga ahora no es indiferente para el día de mañana. Lo que pasa es que creo que hay prioridades y siendo práctico creo que no se puede enfocar todo al mismo tiempo.

¿Cómo tratar el problema con una opinión pública que cambia que planteaba usted? El otro día leía un artículo, me parece que era de [...] que me parece que decía que no se puede tapar una gotera con un dibujo valioso de Rafael y creo que tenía razón. Yo creo que no hay atajos en esta lucha y cuando hay atajos no dan buen resultado.

Hay que hacerlo dentro de la ley, no hay que renunciar a lo básico. Lo básico –yo creo que antes Nicholas Howen dijo un poco qué era lo básico, ¿no?: No renunciar a la presunción de inocencia, no a la detención sin juez, no a la tortura, no a la inmunidad de las fuerzas de seguridad o de las fuerzas armadas, no, digo yo también, no a la guerra preventiva contra el terrorismo, no extender este concepto, no renunciar a la presunción de inocencia. E insisto, creo que hay mucho que queda por hacer dentro de la ley. Creo que el espacio es amplísimo antes de buscar nuevas medidas.

Tercero, cómo tratar el tema de la relación seguridad - libertad con una comunidad sensible a los derechos individuales en un mundo en que cambia. Yo estoy de acuerdo con Irene Khan cuando decía que a veces el riesgo no está tanto en el terrorismo, ¿verdad?, cómo en la lucha contra el terrorismo. Cómo se hace esa lucha que tiene que hacerse dentro de ciertas medidas y de cierta proporcionalidad.

Una cosa que preocupa es el ámbito de sospecha generalizada sobre ciertos grupos de individuos, la xenofobia. Creo que esto sí hay que luchar y para esto estoy muy de acuerdo en que en esto y en las otras medidas a tomar también un amplio debate nacional sí puede ser útil. Antes, el señor Terry Davis decía algo así, refiriéndose a una frase mía, que los derechos humanos “did not prevail over security, where we reconcile to them?” I guess you said something like that. Bueno, vamos a buscar una reconciliación entre estos dos nuevos conceptos y vamos a hacerlo ¿por qué no?, contando con la opinión de la gente. A mí esto me parece una idea muy buena que además puede ser muy positiva y creo que a eso contribuye precisamente la reunión que nos tiene aquí a todos. Muchas gracias.

Nicholas Howen
I have two proposals, because I very much agree with the two problems we face that were presented. One, that we have a public that is frightened and prepared to give up rights. But, let’s face it, normally the rights of other people rather than your own rights. And secondly, that we have this barrier between the policymakers and human-rights activists, and we lob general statements of the need for robust counterterrorism measures or the need to respect rights which don’t get beyond generalities.

I have two proposals for the Club de Madrid. One is that the Club de Madrid could and should sponsor a series of roundtable policy dialogues in a small room with maybe no more than 25-30 people around the table, where we bring together the very best of the security establishment with the very best of the human-rights advocates who have seen these practical issues around the world. We as human-rights advocates can ask the people with security experience: ‘What do you feel you need to protect people?’ Let’s have this debate outside of the glare of the media, where we can really explore some of the dilemmas being faced within governments and try and come out with some kind of a consensus.

So we can deal with issues like when you have someone you suspect might be going to another country to commit a terrorist act, but all you know is that he stole a credit card and a vehicle. What do you do? What do we do now with the increasing use of secret intelligence gathered by intelligence agencies which is taken into another forum in which it should never be, namely a court of law, where it’s being used in a secret way to find someone guilty or not of a particular activity? So these are very real issues and if the Club de Madrid sponsored these series of roundtable policy dialogues, we could have Europe and Latin America, which is mainly represented in this Club, to really take the lead, to actually identify the way forward and what the acceptable policy issues are, to put into practice the general statements which have emerged as part of an important consensus.

The second proposal really builds on some of the civil-society recommendations we heard this morning. I would like to see the Club de Madrid be the spiritual or driving force for a global campaign which says that our liberties are our security, and which invites trade unions, churches, governments, human-rights organisations, development organisations – a cross sector of all society – to really affirm that our liberties are our security and in that way to have a bipartisan political leadership from civil society and from government to try to overcome some of the fear we see in the public, which in reality is engendered by a lack of political leadership.

Finally, I want to ask: where does one find some of the golden rules I mentioned earlier on? We as the International Commission of Jurists, we are this network of judges and lawyers around the world, last year in August we brought together 160 jurists from all regions of the world to Berlin, where we were founded more than half a century ago, and we came up with something which for lawyers is quite brief – it’s only three and a half pages – called the Berlin Declaration on Upholding Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Combating Terrorism. For lawyers, it’s a very succinct eleven paragraphs, eleven principles of all the ways in which counterterrorism measures should respect rights. It’s like a checklist, or guidelines and we could use this for the roundtable policy dialogues to go through one by one and ask in what practical ways laws, policies and behaviour could comply with human rights. This is available on our website and I think it’s also available from the documentation centre.

Robert Goldman
I don’t have that much more to add, just a couple of points.

The issue of the perception in public is a perennial one. The region I’m most familiar with and have worked in a lot is Latin America, where there was the perception that human-rights law began with the Carter Administration, and that this was an American invention that was being stuffed down the throats of de facto governments and so forth. Then there was a radical shift that left people puzzled when James Carter lost the Presidency and Ronald Reagan’s Administration assumed a different kind of policy and, despite the fact that there was at times the view that human-rights protections were merely for the subversives, and then with restoration or creation of democratic institutions, it has become to defend the criminal elements in society.

I would tell you – and I think that most people who are acute observers of Latin America – that the legitimacy of human rights has never been greater than it is today and ultimately it prevails. One needs to do education and like Nicholas Howen says it’s usually someone else’s human rights involved as opposed to mine, but there is greater legitimacy.

The other thing I would point out apart from the Berlin Declaration, which I think is a remarkable document, is that I want to compliment the Council of Europe. Of any organisation, quite frankly, in the world, the guidelines the Council have done address more pertinent and very detailed problems, because it deals with issues like law enforcement. Most people are not aware, for instance, today in the Counterterrorism Committee that countries can put the names of individuals and groups on a list and there is absolutely no procedure if there is a mistake for them to get off that list. And frequently there is no procedure domestically to contest the information because you’re hiding behind national security.

Now freezing and blocking of assets is absolutely critical for breaking up terrorism and stopping money from moving around, but – and this goes back to frankly my fundamental point, whether you’re dealing with privacy rights or other things – in these circumstances you cannot simply leave this to the sole discretion of the executive branch of government, whether because it is fighting a putative war or it knows best. You must have some form of impartial judicial control. One of the great anecdotes in my country was that Ted Kennedy – who some of you have heard of – went to catch a shuttle to Boston, where he’s from, and he found they wouldn’t let him get on the plane. Why? Because his name was on a terrorist list. Now I don’t think this had anything to do with Republican politics, but the fact of the matter was that Ted Kennedy could pick up a phone and call the White House and say ‘What is going on?’ But what if you’re Ted Kennedy and you’re not the United States Senator? How do you clear your name? If your assets are mistakenly frozen, and you effectively can’t work, how can you contest?

There is a balance in law enforcement and moving against criminal enterprises and so forth in my country. We have been able to work out in camera proceedings always subject to judicial control, which has enabled there to be defence of defendants’ rights and, at the same time, for the government to legitimately go and take action against those who are destroying the lives of many, in narcotics and other kinds of trades.

We can apply the same kind of things in confronting terrorism and ensure we strike an appropriate balance. But you need not reinvent the wheel. The experience of thirty years ago –I would suggest to you– is highly persuasive and relevant to what we can do in confronting what is a clear and present danger, there’s no question about that.

Thank you very much

I would like to thank all the panellists and the public for their attention and the questions raised. Unfortunately, we have to close the session because our time is up.

Thank you very much.

With the collaboration ofSafe Democracy Foundation
Members of the Club de Madrid

© Club de Madrid | Privacy Policy | Disclaimer | Contact Us | Feed RSS RSS 2.0