PACE President remembers the victims of terrorism

On the occasion of the European Day for Remembrance of the Victims of Terrorism (11 March), Michele Nicoletti, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has paid tribute to the victims and survivors of terrorist attacks, and sent a message of solidarity and support to all those who have lost loved ones to terror.

“To each and every one who has been affected by these awful events, I express my sorrow and my support – the effects can last a lifetime, and the random injustice of such indiscriminate violence makes it all the harder to bear,” he said.

“That human beings can seek to inflict such damage and pain upon their fellow human beings – in the belief that this will somehow advance their cause – can seem almost incomprehensible. There is no ideal – religious, ideological or political – which can justify the violent sacrifice of innocent and helpless human beings. Every person – whoever she or he is – has to be treated as an end in themselves, not as a means to an end: this is the deep meaning of the European Convention on Human Rights, which is the bedrock of our European civilisation.”

“What can we, as parliamentarians, do to honour those who have perished and suffered? We must work, with ever greater determination, to make sure such atrocities never recur. Certainly, we must be vigilant in trying to stop them, and resolute in pursuing the perpetrators. But alongside that, we must make our societies as resistant as possible to the evils of extremism and terrorism.”

“I believe that the most effective long-term response to terrorism is education. Terrorists thrive on ignorance, misunderstanding and fear. Our greatest weapons in defeating them are the values we live by – tolerance, diversity and mutual understanding. A society of strong community bonds, committed to democratic values, is a society where hatred cannot thrive. Confronted with violence, we have to relaunch the great lesson of non-violence and our faith in the transformative power of love and solidarity.”

The President added: “We must also do everything in our power to ensure that the victims of terrorism receive all the help they need – be that emergency assistance, medical attention or more long-term psychological support, all of which should be provided free of charge. They should also be guaranteed effective access to justice, and appropriate and timely compensation. I am proud that the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe adopted last year revised guidelines on the protection of victims of terrorist acts, which include all of these things. The Assembly will continue to press for more in this area – not least through a new report on “Protecting and supporting the victims of terrorism” by Marietta Karamanli (France, SOC).”