Examining the judicial response to terrorism

Friday, May 04, 2018

  • France’s ENM held the final conference of the European project “The Judicial Response to terrorism in the light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU” in which EJTN proudly partnered.

European conference: the judicial response to terrorism and the charter of fundamental rights
The final conference of the European project “The Judicial Response to terrorism in the light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU” was held on April 12th and 13th, 2018, at France’s National Assembly. In total, 17 countries were represented at the conference.

The focal issue of the conference was encapsulated in the question “does an effective judicial treatment necessarily involve a compromise, a renunciation of the liberties that are the bases of our democracies?”, which was asked by Olivier Leurent, Director of the French National School for the Judiciary (ENM) when opening this conference.

200 judges and prosecutors from 17 countries, mainly from the European Union, were brought together at the event to exchange their viewpoints on the respect for the rights of defense, the right to a fair trial and for the dignity of the human person in the judgment of terrorist cases and after conviction.

Four prosecutors specialised in counter-terrorism
The Spanish, Italian, French and Belgian prosecutors specialised in counter-terrorism, respectively, Jesús Alonso, chief prosecutor of the Spanish Nacional Court, Federico Cafiero de Raho, national prosecutor of Italy, François Molins, public prosecutor of Paris, and Frédéric Van Leeuw, federal prosecutor of Belgium, shared their views and experiences of the national criminal policies on counter-terrorism, and how to address dangerousness.

“Through this hitherto unknown cross-analysis, we asked these specialised prosecutors to address the criminal policy and the handling of dangerousness in leading the investigation, in the choice of legal proceedings, as well as during the enforcement of sentences. Our aim was to reflect on how to assess dangerousness, which leads justice to intervene before the commission of the acts and must be taken into account throughout the procedure,” explained Elie Renard, Deputy Director of the ENM in Paris.

Cycle of five conferences
Finding a balance between efficiency and the protection of fundamental rights was the guideline of the cycle of conferences. This final conference of April 2018 concluded the four following seminars earlier organised in 2016 and 2017:

  • “The prevention of violent radicalisation”, especially in view of the freedom of religion (Strasbourg, December 2016);
  • “Investigation and intelligence gathering techniques”, involving a thorny relation between the guarantee of rights and the efficiency of investigation (Brussels, February 2017);
  • “The media coverage of terrorism cases”, with the complex balance between securing the confidentiality of investigation and respecting the freedom of expression, freedom of the press and the public’s right to information (Paris, June 2017); and,
  • “The hearing and the enforcement of sentences as regards terrorism”, with the specificities of the hearing in a terrorist trial, particularly in view of the right to a fair trial (Sofia, October 2017).

The necessary prospects for development and facing the current challenges, enriched by the exchanges made possible throughout these five conferences, will result in a scientific report elaborated by Antoine Megie, lecturer at the University of Rouen, and expert mobilized as rapporteur of this entire European project.

The cycle of five conferences of this “The Judicial Response to terrorism in the light of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU” project was organised by the ENM, with the financial support of the European Commission, and in partnership with the Belgian, Swedish and Bulgarian training institutes, as well as the Council of Europe, the ERA and the EJTN.