8 September 1999
European democracies facing up to terrorism
Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Rapporteur: Mr José Luis Lopez Henares, Spain, Group of the European People's Party
How should European democracies tackle terrorism? This was the question addressed by the parliamentary conference which took place, on the initiative of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, on 14-16 October 1998 and which was used as a basis for the recommendation contained in the present document. In particular, this text calls for the revision of existing European conventions on the repression of terrorism and extradition, better co-operation between the member states in this field and the extension of the Europol Convention to all Council of Europe member states.
I. Draft recommendation
1. By its Resolution 1132 (1997) the Assembly decided to invite parliamentarians and experts to a conference aimed at strengthening democratic systems in Europe and co-operation in the fight against terrorism. In October 1997 this initiative received the support of the Second Summit of Heads of State and Government.
2. The parliamentary conference on "European democracies facing up to terrorism" which the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights was responsible for organising took place in Strasbourg from 14 to 16 October 1998.
3. Terrorism in Council of Europe member states assumes a variety of forms, but its invariable aim is to undermine democracy and parliamentary institutions. Terrorism represents a serious threat to democratic society, whose moral and social fibre is affected by it. It attacks the most fundamental human right, the right to life, and for that reason must be totally condemned.
4. The Assembly considers an act of terrorism to be "the use of serious violence against a country or its institutions, persons or property, or the threat to use such violence, to intimidate or coerce a government, the public, or any section of the public for political, religious or ideological ends".
5. To prevent the ethnic or religious tensions that are liable to give rise to terrorist phenomena, democratic states should respect social and political pluralism by taking into account the legitimate aspirations of minorities and respecting cultural characteristics.
6. However, the Assembly considers that no support, even of a moral kind, should be given to any organisation advocating or encouraging violence as a method of settling political, economic and social conflicts.
7. The prevention of terrorism also depends on education in democratic values and tolerance, with the eradication of the teaching of negative or hateful attitudes towards others and the development of a culture of peace in all individuals and social groups.
8. The Assembly, recognising the vital importance of free media in a pluralistic democracy, acknowledges that the media too have a responsible role to play by reporting terrorist actions and by firmly refusing to allow themselves to be exploited by terrorism.
9. The Assembly believes that the fight against terrorism should be conducted on the basis of respect for the rule of law and the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals, and it therefore regards recourse to special legislation as inadvisable.
10. Recognising the importance of respect for the rule of law, effective judicial and police co-operation on a continental scale is necessary to combat terrorism. The Assembly therefore welcomes the creation of Europol, even though it is confined to the 15 member countries of the European Union.
11. The conventions of the Council of Europe, whether they be the 1977 European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism or the 1957 European Convention on Extradition, should be reviewed in the light of experience to make them more effective in the fight against terrorism.
12. The European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, by failing to cover all criminal offences capable of being considered terrorist actions or collaboration with these actions, does not enable terrorism to be combated as effectively as would be desirable.
13. The European Convention on Extradition, by enabling extradition to be refused if the offence is a political one, should be modified to prevent abuses of the right to asylum for terrorists.
14. The Assembly recommends that the Committee of Ministers:
i. revise the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, of 27 January 1977, by broadening the definition of criminal offences of a terrorist nature to include preparatory acts, the membership of association and the funding and the setting up of logistics to perpetrate these kind of offences;
ii. consider as terrorist acts not only attacks against persons but also attacks against property and material resources;
iii. delete Article 13 of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism;
iv. amend the European Convention on Extradition, of 13 December 1957, by defining the concept of political offence and proposing a simplified extradition procedure, with measures to avoid abuse of the right of asylum;
v. onsider the possibility of setting up a European criminal court to try terrorist crimes in certain cases;
vi. consider the establishment of a procedure whereby in certain cases a person accused of committing a terrorist offence could be charged and tried for such an offence in a country other than the one in which the offence was committed;
vii. encourage member states to co-operate together more closely within Interpol, and examine in conjunction with the European Union the possibility of extending the Europol convention to all Council of Europe member states and establishing a Europol judicial control system;
viii. envisage the preparation of a civic education textbook for all schools in Europe so as to combat the spread of extremist ideas and advocate tolerance and respect for others as an essential basis of community life;
ix. consider the incorporation of the principle of fuller protection for victims of terrorist acts at both national and international level;
x. invite Council of Europe member states to incorporate the principle aut dedere aut iudicare1 in their criminal legislation;
xi. invite member states to strengthen bilateral co-operation in respect of their judicial authorities, police forces and intelligence services.
II. Draft order
1. The Assembly, having regard to its Recommendation …. (1999), instructs its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights to make a study of the anti-terrorist laws of Council of Europe member states and, in particular, of statutory texts enabling the principle aut dedere aut iudicare ("either extradite or try") to be applied.
2. It instructs its President to transmit the present recommendation to the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the European Parliament.
III. Explanatory memorandum by Mr José Luis Lopez Henares
1. Terrorism is not a new phenomenon. As far back as 1980 the Parliamentary Assembly devoted a conference to the subject, entitled "Defence of Democracy against Terrorism in Europe - Tasks and Problems", which gave rise to Recommendation 916 (1981).
2. In its Resolution 1132 (1997) of 23 September 1997, the Parliamentary Assembly decided to organise a new conference on the subject and, as in 1980, entrusted the task to its Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. The purpose of the conference was to draw on the experience of experts from a range of professional and geographical backgrounds with a view to examining the current phenomenon of terrorism in a democratic system, identifying methods of prevention, protection, surveillance and enforcement and assessing the changes that needed to be made to the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, so that proposals could be submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly and then to the Committee of Ministers.
3. The Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe in October 1997 supported this initiative.
4. The conference, which was originally called "conference for strengthening democratic systems in Europe and co-operation in combating terrorism" and subsequently rebaptised "European democracies facing up to terrorism", was held in Strasbourg from 14 to 16 October 1998. The one hundred and fifty participants, from some forty countries, included members of the Assembly, representatives of European national parliaments and governments, as well as from the United States, Japan and Israel, and representatives of international institutions (European Parliament and NATO) and non-governmental organisations (European Council of Police Unions and World Organisation against Torture). Their presence testifies to democracies' determination to unite against terrorism. The conference was assisted by some twenty specialists from a range of backgrounds with direct knowledge of the problem.
5. The programme, which appears in the appendix to this report, enabled us to cover all the relevant issues in detail, identify all aspects of modern terrorism, whether it be ideological or separatist, analyse the problems that it poses for democracies and assess the various tools of international co-operation.
6. The conference received wide coverage in the media. The Spanish Minister of the Interior, Mr Jaime Mayor Oreja, who is himself a Basque, told us of the joint efforts of Spain and France to combat the terrorism of a radical and violent minority. Terrorism, he said, was one of the most serious and complex forms of organised crime and posed a threat to democratic societies, which could not and must not give way to blackmail or violence.
7. This report attempts to summarise the many and varied contributions of the conference participants, and the proposals they made, with a view to identifying a number of recommendations for the Committee of Ministers' consideration.
8. If international co-operation in fighting terrorism is to be effective, there must be a precise definition of the concept. In fact there is no universally accepted definition of terrorism. The term is used to describe a range of phenomena, situations and notions. Significantly, international organisations have generally avoided such definitions. International conventions, including the Council of Europe's 1977 Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, have confined themselves to somewhat partial definitions, or even to listing what could be characterised, treated and, above all, prosecuted as terrorist acts. These divergent approaches have caused difficulties for institutions such as the United Nations which have tried to co-ordinate international action against terrorism but have been forced to limit themselves to certain precise categories of offences, which everyone can agree constitute terrorism. Within the European Union, the European Parliament has looked at this question and agreed on a definition of terrorism in a resolution of January 1997.
9. Based on the resolution on combating terrorism in the European Union, adopted by the European Parliament on 30 January 19972, it is possible to offer the following definition: an act of terrorism can be "any offence committed by individuals or groups resorting to violence or threatening to use violence against a country, its institutions, its population in general or specific individuals which, being motivated by separatist aspirations, extremist ideological conceptions, fanaticism or irrational and subjective factors, is intended to create a climate of terror among official authorities, certain individuals or groups in society or the general public".
B. Terrorism in Europe
10. In recent years, there has been a fresh upsurge of terrorism in Europe. France for example was targeted by a wave of bomb attacks in 1995 and the prefect of Corsica was assassinated in 1998; in Spain in 1997, ETA assassinated the Popular Party municipal councillor Miguel Angel Blanco, who had been kidnapped in an attempt to secure the return to the Basque country of prisoners from that terrorist organisation; in the United Kingdom, the IRA committed terrorist attacks in Manchester and London in 1996 while a separate branch of the organisation killed 29 civilians in a bomb attack in Omagh (Ulster) in August 1998; Turkey has suffered from PKK operations; there have been terrorist attacks in Moscow, Budapest and Sofia; in Italy, anarchist cells have remained active while the former eastern bloc countries have seen the rise of separatist, ethnic and religious forms of terrorism. Finally, new forms of computer-based, nuclear and other forms of terrorism are developing rapidly. In the 1990s, terrorism took on a new face, striking at city centres and underground railway systems and forging ever-closer links with organised crime.
11. In order to combat terrorism effectively, particularly from the standpoint of international co-operation, we first need a clear understanding of its nature that goes well beyond our empirical conceptions. We have to examine and classify the different forms of terrorism, and investigate their ideological, ethnic and religious roots, so that no doubts will remain in the minds of the public or the media.
12. Over the last ten years, terrorism has undergone significant structural and ideological changes. It is no longer of the extreme left, neo-Marxist, anti-imperialist variety, often supported by certain Arab countries, and is now fundamentalist, ethnic and separatist. Violence has often become an end in itself. At the same time, its potential for disruption has increased, particularly with the use of the most advanced forms of technology.
13. Islamic fundamentalist terrorism has a number of components: groups fighting against a particular regime or occupation force, cells operating in secret abroad, humanitarian or cultural organisations whose fund-raising activities are partly intended to finance terrorism and, finally, movements directly supported by certain Islamic countries. It operates in a dispersed fashion, which makes it difficult to prevent attacks and prosecute those responsible. When radical movements are thwarted in their countries of origin, they are forced to operate from abroad. Since western countries have become relatively unsafe for terrorists, they have sought refuge in countries of more doubtful sovereignty. However dramatic, this form of terrorism is not achieving its primary goal – overthrowing the regimes of its countries of origin – or such secondary objectives as ending western, and more specifically American, hegemony over certain regimes. To achieve this, the terrorists must attack the nerve centres of the global economy or political structure: its transport or computer networks, stock exchanges and banks. Attacks of this kind using chemical or biological means cannot be excluded but for the time being the Islamic movements' arsenal is relatively unsophisticated.
14. Europe has concentrated in large measure on the terrorist threat posed by Islamic fundamentalism. With the possible exceptions of the Middle East conflict and the Algerian crisis, no major conflict involving Muslim countries has spilled over into Europe. Europe is no longer faced with state-inspired threats. Government-run forces are no longer the problem. What has occurred has been a radicalisation of the youth fringes of the Muslim immigrant population, who are simultaneously integrated and marginalised, since they have received a European education but are also the victims of social exclusion. At the same time, we have seen the emergence of movements, such as the one gravitating around Bin Laden, with no territorial base, whose activities can combine with those of sections of the Muslim community.
15. Europe is also extremely preoccupied by the issue of ethnic terrorism. Such movements developed in part in the late 1960s in countries where minority rights were not respected. Failure to recognise their language, culture and status resulted in the emergence of stronger nationalist movements, which sometimes resorted to terrorism. It would appear to be relatively easy to prevent this form of terrorism, by allowing minorities to exercise their rights freely. However, Spain's example shows that although the Basque country enjoys an extraordinary degree of autonomy within a democratic state, isolated groups continued to carry out attacks against the Spanish state, seen as the oppressor, until the recent truce announced by ETA.
16. Certain conference participants thought that one of the ways of restricting ethnic-based terrorism was to guarantee minorities their dignity and rights and offer them institutional recognition. However, in the case of genuinely democratic states it can be asked whether self-determination reflects a real need. The canton of Jura in Switzerland offers a counter-example. A Jura liberation front was formed at the end of the 1960s and committed acts of terrorism. Following the rejection of internal autonomy in 1972, a referendum on self-determination was held in 1974 and led to the accession of a 23rd canton to the Confederation.
17. With its conventions on minority rights and regional languages the Council of Europe has done much to satisfy minorities' legitimate demands for their identity to be recognised. Nevertheless, their aspirations are not recognised in the Convention on Human Rights and it is always necessary to bear in mind each country's historical context. Even the Convention for the Protection of National Minorities has been unable to define the concept of a minority, since it is for every individual to exercise his or her own right and decide whether or not he or she belongs to a minority.
18. Within our democratic societies there are latent tensions, conflicting interests, social and political conflicts and, above all, divisions based on differing aspirations, demands and conceptions of social and political life. Within such democratic societies, terrorist groups conduct themselves as autonomous authorities that challenge the existing institutions and seek to replace them, with the enforced or imposed support of the population. Terrorists exploit the latent contradictions in the democratic system. Terrorism seeks to impress and make the headlines, which is why terrorists claim responsibility for all their acts, even the cruellest. Their psychological consequences are more important than the acts themselves, which is why they escalate.
19. Terrorism is one of the principal enemies of society, affecting its moral, social and political fabric and acting as a vehicle for racism and xenophobia. It threatens peace and stability in Europe and the world. It provokes governments into sometimes inappropriate reactions, which can lead to breaches of the principles of the rule of law.
20. Whatever its causes, terrorism cannot be justified from any standpoint and must be combated in all its forms. It would be dangerous to attempt to play down certain terrorist acts because of their ideological or political motivations. Defending territorial integrity is both a sovereign right and an obligation guaranteed under international law. Countries governed by the rule of law must resist armed aggression from whatever quarter.
21. Human life and liberty, human values and those of the rule of law must be protected. Any form of violence generates fear or terror, whether it be committed by individuals, groups or even state bodies. Seen from the victims' standpoint, the status of the author of such criminal acts matters little. Moreover, there should be improved protection for victims, at both national and international levels. Democratic nations must make every effort to assist victims.
22. Its contempt for life and liberties makes terrorism totally incompatible with human dignity and the democratic organisation of society. Terrorism drags society back to a state of nature. Seen from this angle, terrorism is not only anti-democratic but also pre-political. Terrorism rejects dialogue and tolerance and turns its opponents into mortal enemies.
23. The terrorist ethos totally devalues human dignity and the physical life which enshrines it, and divides everyone single-mindedly into "us" and "them". As members of an ethnic group, the former enjoy human dignity while the latter are simply the objects of blackmail or serve as hostages or corpses which can be exchanged in negotiations with the state.
24. Mr. Aurelio Arteta, Professor of Ethics at the University of the Basque country, said that ethics implied justice. Terrorism subordinated this justice for all to a hypothetical form of national justice of which it was the sole interpreter. It was prepared to commit any injustice to establish this would-be form of justice which was akin to vengeance.
25. Democracies bear a real moral responsibility for the growth of terrorism when they fail to end scandalous injustices which cast doubt on the democratic system. A people for whom democracy offers few attractions will make little effort to combat terrorism. Governments must be careful though not to use too much force against terrorism so as not to lose moral credibility, since terrorists will take advantage of the situation to pose as victims.
26. Even in states which themselves practise almost routine terror against their own people, terrorism cannot be accepted as a morally legitimate or democratic form of opposition. All those who act as its apologists therefore have to be challenged. There are always other ways of fighting dictators. Recent history is replete with examples of successful struggles in non-democratic countries using legal means – in particular, in the new democracies of central and eastern Europe. It is justifiable to use force to fight terrorist and tyrannical regimes, but on condition that the Geneva Convention and other international laws governing armed conflict are respected, which terrorism does not. Wartime resistance movements against occupation forces commit acts of violence against the enemy which do not fall within the scope of our definition of terrorism. In a global society, democratic processes must be encouraged, by offering them a model and avoiding violence and human rights violations.
27. Even in democratic systems, non-violent solutions to social problems and to elites' lack of legitimacy do not come automatically; the right conditions have to be created. Although terrorism of the extreme left or right is no longer a current concern, European society can still be shaken by other forms of violent opposition. Finding answers to social and economic problems, weaknesses in the education system and poverty is a major challenge for that society.
C. Preventing and suppressing terrorism in Europe
i. Respecting human rights in the fight against terrorism
28. The Council of Europe's member states experience many difficulties concerning acts of violence committed for ideological or political reasons. The fight against terrorism must show strict respect for the rule of law, if only so that states can clearly distinguish themselves in moral terms from their opponents. Even stable and mature democracies have not resisted the temptation to resort to extra-legal activities in combating those they describe as terrorists. The Parliamentary Assembly must unanimously condemn any deviation from legality in the fight against terrorism. It should also emphasise that the rule of law implies non-retroactivity and supervision of the executive's discretionary decisions. There is no reason why the police, immigration services and other departments should not be politically and legally responsible for their actions in fighting terrorism. The state's role in this matter does not give it carte blanche.
29. The Parliamentary Assembly should remind member states of the need to respect the rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights and be prepared, where necessary, to call for the introduction of more effective safeguards than those so far established by the European Court of Human Rights. The Assembly must ensure that counter-terrorist activities do not encroach on the laws to protect public liberties in Europe, and ask the Secretary General to keep a close watch on member states' compliance with their undertakings in this area. Governments must not compete with each other to enact the most stringent anti-terrorist legislation. In reaction to the Omagh bombing, the British parliament hastily, and without proper consideration, passed a law similar to the one it had rejected a year earlier.
30. The definition of terrorism is very important in countries governed by the rule of law but its complexity poses a real challenge for lawyers. Without a definition, it is arbitrary, or even impossible, to talk about terrorist crimes and classify those who commit them as terrorists, particularly as the range of such acts makes it impossible to impose uniform penalties. Most acts of this kind are already treated as crimes by national legislation, which makes it difficult to distinguish between terrorist acts and ordinary offences. One way of defining terrorism is in terms of its objectives. Terrorism is concerned with seizing power, controlling target groups, radicalising the ordinary people, deliberately provoking repression, disturbing government activity, paralysing the security machinery, corrupting democratic institutions, imposing its domination and so on. Numerous countries' legislation characterise it as a range of violent acts against the state and some confine it to its primary objective, which is to terrorise the population.
31. In order to combat terrorism many countries are inclined to enact special legislation or incorporate special articles into their criminal codes and codes of criminal procedure. They define terrorist acts in terms of their goal, their nature, how they are carried out or their effects. Starting from that basis, they establish penalties equivalent to those applicable to similar criminal offences. Such legislation is important from the standpoint of effectiveness and respect for human rights and public liberties and facilitates international co-operation, particularly regarding extradition. The problem of extradition can be at least partially resolved if, as a minimum, conventions adopt the definition of terrorism used in texts concerned with humanitarian law. In such texts, an act can only be deemed terrorist if the violence is aimed at protected persons or non-combatant civilians and they outlaw acts whose primary purpose is to sow terror among the civilian population.
32. Finally, reference should be made to the supervisory bodies of the European Convention on Human Rights. Prior to the establishment of the single Court, the Court and the Commission have not tried to take over the role of individual states and have granted the latter a certain margin of discretion with regard to both prevention and enforcement. They have approved international co-operation designed to combat the terrorist threat. In their decisions, they have displayed no tolerance towards terrorist movements. However, they have taken steps to ensure that the fight against terrorism is conducted in a manner consistent with respect for human rights.
33. States which deem certain acts to constitute terrorism sometimes think that this allows them to transgress the rules of law. Monitoring violations of the Human Rights Convention is in fact at the forefront of the Council of Europe's activities. Government authorities and the institutions of state must be prevented from breaching the law.
34. Article 57 of the Convention authorises the Secretary General to ask parties to furnish explanations of the manner in which their internal laws ensure the effective implementation of any of the Convention's provisions. The Parliamentary Assembly could in turn ask the Secretary General to check with member states that their anti-terrorist legislation is in compliance with the Convention.
35. The Assembly could also use its monitoring procedure, in accordance with the terms of reference given to its Monitoring Committee under Resolution 1115 (1997), as supplemented by Resolution 1155 (1998), to ensure that member states' anti-terrorist legislation is indeed compatible with the Council of Europe's principles.
ii Co-operation and information sharing in combating terrorism
36. In dealing with terrorists, police forces must exchange information and use the enforcement powers at their disposal, under judicial supervision. The fight against terrorism must not lead to legal abuse. Article 1 of the 1977 European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism gives a list of offences which must not be considered as political offences, offences connected with a political offence or offences inspired by political motives. Interpol's approach to the notion of political offences is quite close to that adopted by the Convention: article 3 of its Statute prevents the organisation, in principle, from intervening in political or religious affairs (see appendix II for information about Interpol). It does not, however, apply to serious assaults on human life or the integrity of persons or property, kidnapping, or unlawful acts against civil aviation. The extradition of politically motivated individuals who have been involved in terrorist acts is now established practice. When it comes to fighting terrorism, a measure of caution is called for, to ensure that the necessary strengthening of international co-operation is based on respect for fundamental human rights. Suppression is not sufficient; without prevention and lasting political solutions, terrorism will not be defeated.
37. Terrorist organisations exploit the situation of their members in prison to exert pressure and continue their struggle, which legitimises their survival and reinforces their propaganda. In 1989, the Spanish prison service drew up an action plan to respond to terrorist groups' activities in this area. The aim was to break the iron discipline imposed by ETA on its imprisoned members by granting those who dissociated themselves from the organisation the same conditions as ordinary prisoners. This did not entail ideological indoctrination but was intended to ensure that released prisoners would respect the basic rules of society. The social rehabilitation of terrorists is only possible if they explicitly renounce the use of arms.
38. Democratic societies are characterised by the extensive freedom enjoyed by citizens and their political participation, the development of means of communication which protect the exchange of information and technical progress, which terrorists try to impede. Such societies are very vulnerable to the terrorist phenomenon, one of whose main objectives is to impose its model of society by force and use subversive methods to crack the cement which binds democratic and law governed states, by entering into direct conflict with them or acting as the mouthpiece for demands originating elsewhere.
39. None of the countries of Europe is unconcerned by the problem of terrorism since in recent years nearly all of them have experienced violent acts of local or foreign origin. It is therefore a global phenomenon and can only be fought using global weapons. Fighting terrorism requires significant specialisation on the part of police forces since the methods terrorists use, for example in the financial or computer fields, do not come within the scope of traditional policing. Police and intelligence organisations therefore have to be trained to operate in a particular context, within a legal framework that ensures that rights and freedoms are respected but leaves sufficient scope for effective action. If this is to be achieved, co-operation between all the police forces concerned is essential and they must be given all the necessary technical and human resources to tackle terrorism on all fronts.
40. Such co-operation between all police forces must be on a permanent footing, irrespective of changes of government. The establishment in every country of a special body responsible for police anti-terrorist activities would be an effective way, within the spirit of a democratic front, of opening up breaches in terrorist organisations, avoiding the extension of social conflicts, highlighting terrorist manipulation, drawing attention to the totalitarian nature of the regimes that terrorists wish to establish, increasing the influence of the democratic culture and ensuring that popular demands do not spill over into violence. Such a strategy needs to be implemented both nationally and internationally, with the strengthening of Europol, to demonstrate to the public that terrorism is simply another form of organised crime (see appendix III for information about Europol).
41. The international duties of states include a certain number of basic obligations regarding prevention and enforcement, though not at the expense of the fundamental rights of those suspected of being terrorists, such as the right to an effective defence and the prohibition of torture. Achieving an adequate level of co-operation, and refusing to grant simple acts of terrorism the status of political offences, is one measure of effectiveness. This means co-ordinating the efforts of member states' police forces. A good example is the magnificent co-operation between France and Spain in combating ETA. Europol will also help to make co-operation a cornerstone of the common defence against terrorism. Exhaustive information must be exchanged if all the data collected is to be exploited to the maximum, in order to guide police investigations.
42. For the police, prevention consists of anticipating terrorist activities, identifying those responsible and issuing warnings to the countries concerned by ignoring national egotism and legal nationalism. Police co-operation in the enforcement field has been developing since the 1970s. One unfortunate gap concerns the financing of terrorist groups; while the Council of Europe has concerned itself with this issue, the United Nations has so far confined its attentions to the laundering of drug money.
iii. The role of education, culture and the media in combating terrorism
43. Educating the younger generations about democracy and respect for human rights is a key aspect of the fight against terrorism. Since part of the school population could be receptive to terrorism's political demands, young people have to be educated to understand the unacceptable nature of terrorism in a democratic society. Tolerance and respect for others must form the basis of all social education.
44. The fight against terrorism involves a police dimension aimed at avoiding the activities of terrorist organisations and a media dimension designed to limit the potential impact of terrorist attacks on public opinion. In the latter aspect, education plays a key role.
45. The Council of Europe should set about producing a civic education text book for all European schools. The lack of political training for citizens results in their confusing authority with authoritarianism and considering any demands made by groups as their fundamental rights. The Parliamentary Assembly has frequently stated that education is one of the best ways of preventing negative attitudes towards others and securing a culture of peace between all the groups in society. Useful proposals in this area are made in the report of the Committee on Culture and Education dated 17 December 1998 on education in the responsibilities of the individual (Doc. 8283).
46. Terrorist campaigns are always accompanied by propaganda efforts to influence public opinion, recruit militants and so on. Many terrorist actions are themselves conceived as pure acts of propaganda. Modern forms of information technology like the Internet are an ideal weapon for terrorists; however few they are in number, they can achieve world-wide publicity. Terrorism and the media sometimes give the impression that each needs the other. Naturally, the former needs the latter since it offers terrorists the necessary publicity and the media can easily play the terrorists' game by providing information about their activities. But the media can also help to educate public opinion against terrorism.
47. The media can help to make people more aware of the dangers of terrorism. The fight against terrorism cannot be confined to the experts. Democracies survive with the support of the public. In free societies, a free press must draw attention to the strengths and weaknesses of existing policies and offer constructive criticism. There are three possible attitudes to the risks of terrorist exploitation of the media: doing nothing and not encouraging journalists to adopt a certain reserve; censoring the media, with the attendant danger that they will lose all credibility in the eyes of the public, and encouraging a responsible media, which conform to a certain code of ethics. The media should check their information sources. In the absence of a general code of conduct, journalists need to be made aware of the content of articles 8 and 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights3.
48. Behind terrorist violence lies intolerance, which can be partly explained by psychological or individual factors, and partly by ideological commitment. The combination of the two can lead to violent conduct. This can only be prevented by teaching the values of tolerance and respect for others.
49. Everyone has to be involved in prevention: educational and cultural institutions, the media and families, who can teach their children to respect democratic principles and values.
D. International co-operation
i. Co-operation in the framework of the existing international conventions
50. Even though acts of terrorism often take place in one country, terrorism is an international phenomenon in that terrorists receive outside help, take refuge in other countries and commit their acts from places located abroad. The only real solution is an international one.
a. Co-operation in the framework of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism
51. The difficulties experienced by our member states in combating terrorism are an argument for amending the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, either as regards the ratification procedure or by the introduction of a judicial body of a criminal kind. The present "à la carte" system of ratification and the possibility of making reservations are the Convention's weaknesses. Consideration should be given to revising the Convention so as to enable reservations entered at the time of ratification to be lifted. Moreover, the signatory states should apply more strictly the principle aute dedere au iudicare4, mentioned in the Convention. Another improvement to the system of the 1977 Convention would be to limit the reservations provided for in Article 13. The Council of Europe's member states might envisage setting up a European criminal court, an idea mooted some time ago but still fully relevant in view of the creation of the International Criminal Tribunal.
52. The Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism has, by ruling out political motives, made a big contribution to co-operation in the fight against terrorists. But the offences covered at the time when the Convention was concluded are nowadays inappropriate. It has since become necessary to take action before outrages occur, by dealing with preparatory acts and the provision of logistics and funding for terrorists. The fact is that the Convention is silent in this regard, not having envisaged such things as criminal association or conspiracy. Conversely, misuse of the right of asylum and the existence of reservations entered by states at the time of ratification are a hindrance to co-operation. The provision that allows states to refuse judicial co-operation or extradition on certain grounds is too vague and hence counter-productive.
53. Being the originator of the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, the Council of Europe is in a very good position to broaden its scope and get rid of its Article 135. Among the various additional measures, mention should be made of the need for direct contacts between judicial authorities and the development of a judicial network on a continental scale.
54. There has been speculation about the need to depoliticise offences so that extradition may override the right of asylum. Articles 1 and 2 of the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism cover a very wide field embracing nearly all violent offences, including offences against property that affect persons, attempts to commit terrorist acts and participation in such acts committed either in isolation or with accomplices. An acceptable balance seems to have been achieved between the suppression of unacceptable acts of terrorism and the preservation of certain freedoms that cannot be interfered with without harmful consequences.
55. To improve the legal framework for combating terrorism in Europe, action should be taken against the new forms of terrorism that use radioactive substances or the new information technologies. Amendments should be made to Article 1 of the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism. This article should be supplemented with provisions on nuclear terrorism, to which the UN General Assembly has itself alluded, and on actions threatening the safety of shipping, as listed in the IMO Convention of 1988 for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts against the Safety of Maritime Navigation. Item e. of Article 1 refers to the use of automatic firearms, which seems to preclude the extradition of criminals who used non-automatic weapons.
56. The European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism has altered extradition practices and assistance arrangements between the Council of Europe's member states. However, there is a growing tendency to regard terrorist acts as political offences, and this obstructs the extradition of their perpetrators. Furthermore, states seem to grant terrorists refugee status readily. This is another obstacle to extradition, which should nevertheless override requests for asylum. Although the 1959 European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters includes a similar provision, some contracting states regard acts of terrorism as political offences and reject requests for judicial co-operation, which effectively prevents terrorists from being prosecuted in their territories.
57. The European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, although seeking to eradicate terrorism, includes no precise rule to that effect, referring solely to extradition. It also allows contracting states a very considerable degree of discretionary power and, although referring to mutual confidence, it is very incomplete regarding the possibility of extraditing persons accused of acts of terrorism. It should therefore be revised in the light of the foregoing.
b. Co-operation in the framework of the 1957 European Convention on Extradition and the 1996 Convention relating to Extradition between Member States of the European Union
58. The 1996 Convention relating to Extradition between Member States of the European Union introduced the concepts of criminal association and conspiracy, which are applicable whenever they are aimed at committing one of the offences mentioned in the text of the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism; it also limited reservations. However, the definitions are too vague. Terrorism assumes many other forms, such as in the case of an individual who knows nothing about the outrages to be committed and does not, strictly speaking, carry out any preparatory act but simply provides false documents or money. The Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism is more appropriate in this respect, as it covers all criminal offences. A combination of the two conventions produces a satisfactory result, but the European Union Convention is not applicable to states outside the Union.
59. Article 3 of the 1957 European Convention on Extradition enables extradition to be refused in the case of a political offence. However, international law does not define what a political offence is, leaving this to each state's national legislation. With regard to the right of asylum, most countries give precedence to the spirit of Article 3 of the Geneva Convention: a request for asylum suspends extradition. The possibility of refusing extradition has been repeatedly curtailed. The operative part of the 1996 Convention relating to Extradition between Member States of the European Union is based on mutual confidence between the European Union's states in the democratic nature of their criminal judicial systems, the progressive harmonisation of those systems and the fact that they are parties to the ECHR. A state cannot extradite a person to a country where the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism is in danger of being violated, even if the requesting state is not itself a party to the Convention. The dropping of political offences, together with retention of the humanitarian and non-discrimination clause, is a significant step forward that can serve as a basis for the development of the 1977 Convention. In the face of the phenomenon of terrorism, a twofold trend is to be observed: widening of the definition of terrorist acts and further depoliticisation of offences. Refusal of impunity is warranted both when the cowardly, cruel or perfidious nature of the offence enables any political justification to be ignored and when respect for democratic principles and fundamental rights is guaranteed. Depoliticisation is, however, open to criticism whenever it affects the right of asylum or certain just, legitimate and fair forms of protest, regardless of the political regime concerned or its criminal system.
60. Refusal to extradite has become meaningless within the European Union, and the political nature of an offence no longer serves as a mitigating factor: a democratic state is required to protect an individual's fundamental rights. The withdrawal of all reservations relating to the political nature of certain offences would be a step forward.
61. Once it is possible either to extradite an individual or to try him or her in one's own territory, the adoption and application of uniform extradition rules by states to suppress acts of terrorism helps to create a European judicial area. Hence the value of a single international judicial body concerning terrorism on which all Council of Europe member states would be represented.
ii. Problems in establishing a pan-European legal and police area
62. When the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism comes to be revised, encouragement should be given to direct co-operation between police forces. One of the difficulties encountered lies in the diversity of the legal classifications of deeds aimed at preparing terrorist acts. However, stringent observance of the ECHR and the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism should enable this to be remedied.
63. The concept of territoriality raises a problem in international law, as sovereignty is often a pretext for legal chauvinism. Jurists are wont to overestimate their national legal system and be reluctant to co-operate. They should nevertheless be aware that they now live in a Europe where countries are interdependent.
64. Police co-operation has to a large extent taken precedence over judicial co-operation, which must now overcome the obstacles in the way of the creation of a genuine European judicial area. It was in 1975 that police co-operation between the EEC member states really began with the creation of the TREVI (Terrorisme-Radicalisme-Extremisme-Violence Internationale) groups, before the Maastricht Treaty incorporated it in the third pillar of the European Union by distinguishing between what remained of national jurisdiction and what could become European. The complex system of operational co-operation thus established is a combination of bilateral and multilateral co-operation. These forms of co-operation have produced useful results, notably in the Franco-Spanish fight against the ETA or in the preparation of the last World Cup football championship. The various participants in this collaboration soon became aware of the need for juridical and judicial collaboration. Links were established. However, various obstacles remain, such as the heterogeneity of preventive laws with regard to telephone tapping, weapons and the residence of aliens and refugees, and the inadequate harmonisation of criminal laws relating to criminal investigations, letters rogatory and extradition.
65. Problems still exist despite the intensification of co-operation. For example, international criminal investigations into terrorist acts often have to contend with the slowness of bureaucratic procedures. Exchanges of information on criminal cases connected with terrorism are still limited. In some countries there is no single authority responsible at national level for criminal cases connected with terrorism, such as the Anti-terrorist Co-ordination and Liaison Unit in France. A further difficulty lies in the heterogeneity of the laws of the various member states, some of which possess special anti-terrorist legislation while others prefer to apply ordinary laws to such matters. It was in an effort to overcome these difficulties that a European police force - Europol - was set up on 1 October 1998 to improve the efficiency of member states' competent services and co-operation between them with regard to terrorism and other serious forms of international organised crime which are particularly developing in the new democracies of central and eastern Europe. The establishment of this service will improve the situation in the fight against terrorism, as it will act as a central intelligence agency for member states and help them in their anti-terrorist investigations. Europol began its anti-terrorist activities on 1 January 1999.
66. Europol may be the first step towards the creation of an operational police force throughout the signatory states (for the time being, the treaty is open to signature only by the member states of the European Union). However, this effort will be futile unless judicial systems evolve along the same lines. Europe must clearly move towards a harmonised judicial system and consider the creation of a European prosecutor's office. Only the EU countries are affected by these various forms of police and judicial co-operation, whereas the countries of central and eastern Europe, which are nevertheless confronted with the emergence of new forms of crime, including terrorism, are excluded therefrom. It may be hoped that enlargement will permit further progress. A balance should also be struck between multilateral co-operation, for which Europol will be responsible, and bilateral co-operation, which remains essential on account of the delicate nature of the "communitisation" of terrorist problems as a whole as well as the deep-rootedness of each state's specific characteristics. The effort to extend Europol's powers geographically as well as broaden them should, however, be accompanied by the establishment of a Europol judicial control system.
67. Wider co-operation and harmonisation are also necessary with regard to the interception of mobile-telephone calls. The use of satellites raises a problem when the individual under surveillance moves to a different country.
68. The European treaties do not provide for the "communitisation" of police and criminal action within the European Union but merely for intergovernmental co-operation. The Treaty of Amsterdam amending the Treaty on the European Union marks a step forward in the field of police and judicial co-operation in criminal matters (as it provides for closer co-operation between member states' police forces, both directly and through Europol, closer co-operation between member states' judicial authorities and the approximation of member states' criminal-law rules), but it falls far short of any "communitisation" of the third pillar. The European Parliament wishes to make intergovernmental co-operation more effective by harmonising definitions, procedures and laws6. The European Parliament condemned terrorism in a resolution adopted on 30 January 1997. Its resolution on terrorism distinguishes between terrorism and acts of resistance in third countries (non-European Union countries) against state structures that themselves carry out terrorist activities. This resolution, according to which only acts committed in democratic countries are unjustifiable, is nevertheless open to criticism.
69. In the Council of Europe's member states the aim of terrorist organisations is to destroy democracy and democratic institutions.
70. No support, even of a moral kind, can therefore be given to a political organisation advocating violence as a method of solving political, economic and social problems in member states.
71. The press is making a substantial contribution to efforts to isolate and condemn terrorists. The media must continue to be firm in their refusal to be used or appear as an instrument of terrorism.
72. Whenever reporting terrorist acts, the media must bear in mind that they have a responsibility towards society and that the perpetrators of such acts try to exploit the media for their own ends; and in this connection the media's self-regulating authorities should draw up a set of ethical principles and make effective arrangements for enforcing them.
73. Culture and education have an important role to play in the prevention of terrorism. It is necessary to promote a democratic dialogue in order to help to contribute to a political settlement of political, ethnico-national, social and ecological conflicts and prevent them from serving as a pretext for acts of terrorism and arousing approval among certain sections of the population. The Council of Europe could arrange for the preparation of a civic education textbook for all schools in Europe. Proposals to this effect were recently made by the Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Culture and Education (see Doc 8283).
74. Terrorist acts must be regarded as serious offences, indeed, as crimes. However, they should not be governed by specific legislation but be prosecuted under the ordinary criminal laws, which should define terrorist offences. To resort to specific measures would be to fall in the trap set by terrorists, who want to pose as victims.
75. Member states should include criminal acts among the offences subject to extradition under their criminal laws; they should prosecute anyone who has helped to organise, prepare or carry out terrorist acts; they should make incitement to terrorism an offence under their national legislation; and they should co-operate together actively in the framework of the existing international conventions.
76. Member states should adopt effective measures against the creation or maintenance of terrorist networks, by prohibiting in particular any active participation in acts of terrorism, outlawing any intellectual, logistic, practical and, above all, financial contribution to such acts and prohibiting any form of complicity aimed at helping terrorists to avoid judicial proceedings or the application of a sentence.
77. Governments, when obliged to combat terrorism, have sometimes given priority to repression without tackling the ideological foundations of terrorism. As a result, their action has not always had the desired effectiveness.
78. It is necessary to harmonise criminal law and amend the Council of Europe's existing conventions in order: to make judicial co-operation easier, more flexible and faster by enabling direct relations to be established between the competent authorities; to set up services responsible for requests for judicial assistance in each member state; to apply the principle that, in the matter of judicial co-operation, investigations in the requested member state should be conducted in accordance with the provisions in force in the requesting member state; and to enable a state to prosecute its own nationals and other member states' nationals for serious offences committed in other states.
79. The 1977 European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism should be revised. Beginning with a definition of terrorism as set out in the foregoing draft Recommendation, this new instrument should place states under a strict obligation to avoid any encouragement of terrorism directed against another country and to engage in intensive co-operation in order to speed up extradition procedures considerably.
80. The European Convention on Extradition should be amended so as to provide for a simplified extradition procedure.
81. Democracy cannot react against terrorism without respecting democratic principles and fundamental rights and freedoms. States' response to terrorism must always pay due heed to human rights. The future European Commissioner for Human Rights might denounce any anti-terrorist laws that are not compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights. The Assembly's monitoring procedures should be used in order to verify that member states are indeed complying with the Council of Europe's basic principles when implementing their anti-terrorist legislation.
82. Nowadays, international co-operation may be considered not just an option for states but rather a challenge and an unavoidable task to be performed. Terrorism, a transnational phenomenon, cannot be effectively combated without the pooling of resources: it is important to strengthen the European Union's third pillar, Europol, multilateral and bilateral co-operation and collaboration within the United Nations.
83. Active, continuous co-operation between the police forces of the European Union's member states has been established; it should now be extended to the whole continent of Europe. The geographical extension and widening of Europol's powers should be supplemented by the creation of a Europol judicial control system.
84. The setting up of a European criminal court, on the pattern of the future International Criminal Tribunal, should be given earnest consideration. This court could, without prejudice to human rights, dispense punitive justice in respect of individuals accused of committing acts of terrorism as listed in the existing international conventions.
Programme of the Conference
Wednesday 14 October 1998
10 am Opening of the Conference by:
- Mrs Leni Fischer, President of the Parliamentary Assembly
- Mr Birger Hagård, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
- Mr José Luis López Henares, Rapporteur
Statement by Mr Jaime Mayor Oreja, Minister of the Interior of Spain
10.30 am Theme I: Description of the nature, characteristics and aims of terrorism in Europe
Chair: Mr Birger Hagård, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal
Affairs and Human Rights
a) Fundamentalist terrorism
Expert: Mr Olivier Roy (Senior Researcher, National Centre for Scientific Research, France)
b) Terrorism based on radical anti-establishment protests (Baader Meinhof, Red Brigades, etc..)
Expert: Dr Richard Blath (Ministry of Justice, Germany)
c) "Ethnic" and separatist terrorism
Expert: Mr Paul Wilkinson
(Professor, St. Andrews University, United Kingdom)
2.30 pm d) Terrorism and other examples of organised crime
Expert: Mr Franco Tritto
(Professor, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy)
e) Combating terrorism: the Israeli perspective
Expert: Mr Daniel Mokady
(Director of the Policy Planning Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Israel)
f) Democratic ethics and terrorism
Expert: Mr Aurelio Arteta
(Professor of Ethics and Political Philosophy,
University of the Basque Country, Spain)
6 pm Reception given by the Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs
and Human Rights
Thursday 15 October 1998
9.30 am –12.30 Theme II: Rule of law and terrorism
Chair: Mr András Bársony, Chairperson of the Political Affairs Committee
a) Strict observance of the rule of law and respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism – State terrorism
Expert: Mr Connor Gearty
(Professor, King’s College, London, United Kingdom)
b) Legal classification of terrorist acts in penal legislation
Expert: Mr Gündüz Aktan (President of the TESEV Foundation, Turkey)
c) Social reintegration of terrorists : penitentiary systems
Expert: Don Angel Yuste Castillejo
(Director of Penitentiary Institutions, Spain)
Statement by Mr Gheorghe Mocuta, State Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Romania
2.30 –5.30 pm Chair: Lord Russell-Johnston, Chairperson of the Committee on Culture and Education
d) Specific nature of police action against terrorism – co-operation and advance information
Experts: - Mr Souheil El Zein (Legal Director, Interpol)
- Dr Pedro Muñoz Gil (Head of Research and Information Department of the Guardia Civil, Spain)
e) Media and the phenomenon of terrorism
Expert: Mr Zarzalejos (Journalist)
f) Education and the fight against terrorism
Expert: Mr Daniel Hermant
(Conflicts Studies Centre, France)
Friday 16 October 1998
9.30 am -12.30 Theme III: International co-operation
Chair: Mr Birger Hagård, Chairperson of the Committee on Legal
Affairs and Human Rights
a) Updating the 1977 European Convention
Expert: Mrs Anne Vosgien (1er Substitut, Parquet de Paris,
b) Extradition and other legal instruments of international co-operation between states governed by the rule of law to enable them to combat terrorism and organised crime effectively
Experts: - Mrs Ersilia Grazia Spatafora
(University of Rome III, Italy)
- Mr Claude Debrulle (Director of the
Administration of Penal Legislation and Human Rights, Ministry of Justice, Belgium)
c) Problems in setting up a pan-European legal and police space against terrorism (arms trade, information services, relations between legal systems, police co-operation)
Experts: - Mr Roger Bouiller (Secretary General of the European Council of Police Trade Unions, Paris, France)
- Mr Jean Poinas (Chief Superintendent, Anti-terrorist Co-ordination and Liaison Unit, Paris, France)
- Mr Manfred Seitner (Europol)
2.30 pm d) Co-operation within the European Union. Recent resolutions, Schengen agreement and Europol
Expert: Mrs Viviane Reding (Rapporteur of the European Parliament on the fight against terrorism within the European Union)
e) Case-law of the European Court of Human Rights and terrorism - legal safeguards in the fight against terrorism
Expert: Mr Alexander Arabadjiev (Member of the European Commission of Human Rights, Strasbourg)
Statement by Mr Stelios Perrakis, Secretary General, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece, on behalf of the chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers
5.30 pm End of the Conference
Administration and structure of INTERPOL
Interpol's governing bodies are its General Assembly and its Executive Committee; these are deliberative organs, with decision-making and supervisory powers, which meet periodically. The Organisation's permanent departments constitute the General Secretariat which is responsible for implementing the decisions and recommendations adopted by the two deliberative organs and whose close contacts with the INTERPOL National Central Bureaus (NCBs) in the various member countries provide the framework for day-to-day international police co-operation.
The NCBs, which are national bodies, are responsible for liaison between the Member States and with the General Secretariat.
1. General Assembly
The General Assembly is composed of delegates appointed by the governments of Member States. It meets once a year. The Assembly is INTERPOL's supreme governing body and takes all the major decisions affecting general policy, resources needed for international co-operation, working methods, finances and programmes of activities. It also elects the Organisation's officers. Generally speaking, the Assembly takes decisions by a simple majority in the form of resolutions or recommendations. Each Member State represented has one vote.
2. Executive Committee
The Executive Committee has thirteen members who are elected by the General Assembly from among the Member States' delegates.
•The President of the Organisation is elected for a four-year term of office. He chairs General Assembly sessions and Executive Committee meetings, makes certain that decisions taken by the Organisation's governing bodies are implemented, and maintains close contact with the Secretary General.
•The three Vice-Presidents and nine ordinary members are all elected for three-year terms of office.
The 13 Executive Committee members are elected on the basis of equitable geographic distribution and must be from different countries.
The Executive Committee usually meets three times a year. It ensures that General Assembly decisions are implemented, prepares the agenda for General Assembly sessions, approves the programme of activities and draft budget before they are submitted to the Assembly, and supervises the management of the General Secretariat.
3. General Secretariat
The General Secretariat is the permanent administrative and technical body through which INTERPOL operates. It implements the decisions taken by the General Assembly and the Executive Committee, directs and co-ordinates actions designed to combat international crime, centralises information on crime and criminals, and maintains contact with national and international authorities.
The General Secretariat is staffed by the Secretary General and the technical and administrative personnel needed to carry out the Organisation's work. The Secretariat is administered by the Secretary General who is appointed by the General Assembly for a five-year term of office. He is answerable to the General Assembly and the Executive Committee for the Organisation's general and financial management.
The General Secretariat staff are international officials and, as such, must act solely in the interests of the Organisation. The staff can be divided into three categories:
•officials seconded to the Organisation by their national administrations;
•officials detached to the Organisation by their national administrations;
•officials under contract who are employed by the Organisation to carry out tasks that do not come within the scope of police work.
General Administration (Division I)
This Division is responsible for managing the Organisation's accounts, managing staff, equipment and general services, preparing General Assembly sessions and other meetings organised by INTERPOL, as well as for producing the Organisation's documents (translation, typing, printing and mailing).
Liaison and Criminal Intelligence Division (Division II)
This Division is responsible for centralising police information and for handling international criminal cases. It manages the computerised processing of police information and the electronic archive system, ensures that the internal Deletion Rules are applied to files, drafts international notices and summaries of criminal cases, and organises meetings and symposia on cases or special topics.
The Liaison and Criminal Intelligence Division is composed of the European Liaison Bureau, the Regional Co-ordination Bureau and four Sub-Divisions, each of which deals with specific areas of international crime. Sub-Division 1 deals with general crime (offences against persons and property, organised crime and terrorism), Sub-Division 2 deals with economic and financial crime (fraud, counterfeiting of currency and travel documents, and funds derived from criminal activities), Sub-Division 3 deals with illicit drug traffic and Sub-Division 4 deals with criminal intelligence.
The Criminal Intelligence Sub-Division is responsible for processing information intended for the NCBs. It uses the most up-to-date and sophisticated technology and has five sections, making it possible to respond immediately to NCBs requesting police information.
The Message Research and Response Branch (MRRB)
The role of the MRRB is to enable the General Secretariat and the NCBs to process and record police information in accordance with the rules on data protection and the deletion of information. It must respond to requests from NCBs without delay and in accordance with the principles of international police co-operation and data protection. It also works closely with the specialised groups of the Liaison and Criminal Intelligence Division.
The International Notices Section
This section's main task is to draft and publish notices at the request of the NCBs, with emphasis on rapid circulation. The Section works closely with the specialised groups of the Liaison and Criminal Intelligence Division. All the paper files in the General Secretariat's records section, and all messages received since l October 1989, are electronically scanned. Finally, this section is responsible for checking that the rules on the deletion of police information held by the General Secretariat are observed.
The Fingerprinting and Identification Department
The expert staff in this department are responsible for processing fingerprints and photographs, and updating their files.
The Automated Search and Archives (ASA) Section
This section is engaged in electronically archiving all criminal data received at the General Secretariat and in operating the Automated Search Facility (ASF). This enables all INTERPOL's NCBs and official services with a law enforcement mission, and which are entitled, to have direct access to and consult the database of selected information.
The Analytical Criminal Intelligence Unit (ACIU)
The ACIU was set up in 1993 to provide a centralised crime analysis capability within the Liaison and Criminal Intelligence Division. The units role is to provide the General Secretariat and INTERPOL's member countries with crime analysis support, so as to develop the necessary tactical and strategic intelligence relating to international crime, making it possible to define criminal networks more accurately, to determine enforcement priorities and to plan effective follow-up enforcement action.
European Liaison Bureau
To strengthen co-operation between European member countries, the General Assembly decided, at its 54th session in 1985, to establish a European Secretariat at the General Secretariat.
In 1988, the European Secretariat was given the additional responsibility of acting as a European Liaison Bureau (ELB) in order to provide the European region with a liaison unit within the General Secretariat.
The main tasks of the ELB are to provide secretariat services for INTERPOL's European activities (for instance, the activities of the INTERPOL European Committee and the European Regional Conference), and to offer liaison facilities to European member countries in the context of complex cases requiring international co-operation and to establish rapid contacts in urgent matters.
The European Liaison Bureau is attached to the Liaison and Criminal Intelligence Division.
Regional Co-ordination Bureau
The Regional Co-ordination Bureau was established in June 1994 in the light of the growing importance of regional activities. The Bureau's responsibilities include:
1.defining the existing regional elements of the structure for police co-operation (within INTERPOL) that might usefully be adopted by other regions;
2.promoting the creation of and organising administrative support for Regional Committees, following the model of the INTERPOL European Committee;
3.co-ordinating and promoting the activities of existing Regional and Sub-Regional Bureaus (other than the European Liaison Bureau;
4.researching the demand for the creation of additional Regional and Sub-Regional Bureaus and, in co-operation with the Legal Affairs Division, developing the necessary framework for their establishment where appropriate;
5.in conjunction with the Technical Support Division, providing a liaison facility for implementing the Regional Modernisation Programme outside Europe;
6.overseeing the organisation of the programme of activities for Regional Conferences outside Europe;
7.liaising with the Technical Support Division to ensure that the police response to technical improvements being made at the NCBs is adequate. This might include arranging training about the type of information to be communicated via the telecommunications network;
8.within the context of items 1 to 4 above, promoting 'good practice' and co-ordinating the implementation, at NCB level, of initiatives arising from the 'INTERPOL 2000' project.
Legal Affairs (Division III)
The main role of Division III is to act as the Organisation's legal department. The responsibilities of the Head of Division and the two legal sub-divisions (one dealing with international law, the other with public and contract law) include:
•giving legal opinions on matters relating to the Organisation's activities and to international police co-operation;
•drafting headquarters agreements and other agreements with States or with international organisations;
•drafting statutory texts and other regulations;
•assisting in the drafting of certain General Assembly resolutions;
•providing secretariat services for the Supervisory Board for the Internal Control of INTERPOL's Archives;
•updating circulars relating to the pre-extradition procedure applicable in each Member State;
•drafting studies or reports on the legal aspects of international police co-operation.
The Division is also responsible, via the ICPR and General Reference Sub-Division, for:
•researching, analysing and circulating reference material on trends in international crime and the means deployed by Member States and international institutions in preventing and combating crime;
•compiling and publishing international crime statistics;
•publishing the International Criminal Police Review (six issues per year).
4. Supervisory Board for the Internal Control of INTERPOL's Archives
At its 51st session (Torremolinos, 1982), the General Assembly approved the creation of a Supervisory Board composed of five members of different nationalities. It is the duty of this Board to verify that personal information contained in INTERPOL's archives is:
(a) obtained and processed in accordance with the provisions of the Organisation's Constitution and the interpretation thereof given by the appropriate organs of the Organisation;
(b) recorded for specific purposes and not used in any way that is incompatible with those purposes; (c) accurate;
(d) kept for a limited period in accordance with the conditions laid down by the Organisation.
Nationals or permanent residents of the Organisation's Member States may ask the Supervisory Board to make available a list of the archives held by INTERPOL. They may also ask the Board to verify that any personal information which the Organisation holds about them complies with the conditions listed above. The Board notifies the requesting party that the verifications requested have been carried out. The Supervisory Board meets three times a year. It submits an annual report on its activities to the Organisation's Executive Committee. During its meetings, it checks on personal information in the files, both at the request of private individuals and on its own initiative.
5. The National Central Bureaux (NCBs)
Experience has shown that there are three main factors which tend to hamper international co-operation. In the first place, the different structures of various police forces often make it difficult for outsiders to know which particular department is empowered to deal with a case or to supply information. Secondly, the fact that different countries use different languages can become a barrier to communication. Finally, problems can arise from the fact that legal systems vary considerably throughout the world.
In an attempt to solve these problems, it was decided that the government of every Member State should appoint one permanent police department to serve as its country's INTERPOL National Central Bureau and act as the focal point for international co-operation. In most cases the department chosen is a high-level one, with wide powers, able to reply to any request from the General Secretariat or from another NCB and capable of launching large-scale police action by other national law enforcement agencies whenever necessary. The NCBs are staffed solely by their own countries' police officers or government officials who always operate within the limits set by their own laws.
The NCBs' activities can be summarised as follows:
•they collect documents and criminal intelligence which have a direct bearing on international police co-operation from sources in their own countries, and pass this material on to the other NCBs and the General Secretariat;
•they ensure that police action or operations requested by another country's NCB are carried out on their territory;
•they receive requests for information, checks, etc, from other NCBs and reply to such requests;
•they transmit requests for international co-operation made by their own courts or police departments to the NCBs of other countries;
•the Heads of NCBs attend INTERPOL General Assembly sessions as members of their countries' delegations, and subsequently ensure that the Assembly's resolutions are implemented.
The NCBs communicate directly among themselves. However, they keep the General Secretariat informed of their investigations so that the latter can perform its task of centralising information and co-ordinating co-operation.
The European Police Office (Europol) –
The mission of Europol is to make a significant contribution to the European Union’s law enforcement action in preventing and combating serious international crime with a particular emphasis on the criminal organizations involved.
The establishment of Europol was agreed in the Maastricht Treaty on European Union of 7 February 1992, to improve co-operation between Member States in the areas of drug trafficking, terrorism and other serious forms of international organised crime. In order to start operations in this field, the former 12 TREVI Ministers (responsible for justice and home affairs) signed an agreement in Copenhagen on 2 June 1993 to create the Europol Drugs Unit (EDU) as a forerunner to Europol in the pre-Convention phase. Based in The Hague, Netherlands, the EDU started activities on 3 January 1994.
The creation of Europol required the agreement on a Convention which was signed by representatives of the Member States on 26 July 1995, ratified by all Member States in June 1998 and came into force on 1 October 1998.
Objectives and Mandate
The objective of Europol is to improve the effectiveness and co-operation of the competent authorities in the Member States in preventing and combating terrorism, unlawful drug trafficking and other serious forms of international crime where there are factual indications that an organized criminal structure is involved and two or more Member States are effected.
The actual mandate of Europol comprises:
• illicit drug trafficking;
• illicit trafficking in radioactive and nuclear substances;
• crimes involving clandestine immigration networks;
• illicit vehicle trafficking; •trafficking in human beings;
• illegal money-laundering activities in connection with these forms of crime.
The mandate of Europol will initially be extended to include terrorism and, in future, to other forms of serious international organised crime as necessary. Article 30 of the Amsterdam Treaty on European Union confirms Europol's future operational role.
Europol supports Member States by:
• facilitating the exchange of data (personal and non-personal), in accordance with national law, between Europol liaison officers seconded by the Member States as representatives of the different national law enforcement agencies to Europol;
• providing operational analyses in support of Member States' operations, general strategic reports and crime analyses on the basis of information and intelligence supplied by Member States, generated by Europol or gathered from other sources;
• providing expertise and technical support for investigations and ongoing operations carried out by law enforcement agencies of the Member States under the supervision and legal responsibility of the Member States concerned.
Europol is active in promoting awareness of crime analysis and harmonisation of analytical methods at an EU level.
There are currently about 155 staff members in total from all Member States. Of these, 41 are Europol liaison officers belonging to and acting as representatives of a variety of law enforcement agencies (police, customs, gendarmerie, immigration services, etc.) from all Member States. The Europol liaison officers together with the Europol intelligence officers, analysts and other experts, guarantee an effective, fast and reliable multi-lingual and multi-disciplinary service 24 hours a day. It is estimated that by the year 2003 the Europol staff level will reach approximately 350, including the Europol liaison officers and security staff.
Accountability and Supervison
Europol is accountable to the Council of Ministers of Justice and Home Affairs.
The Management Board, comprising one representative from all Member States, has the overall task of supervising the activities of the organisation.
A Joint Supervisory Body comprising two data protection experts from all Member States monitors the content and use of all personal data held by Europol.
The Europol Computer Systems (TECS)
The Europol Convention states that Europol shall establish and maintain a computerized system to allow the input, access and analysis of data. The Convention also lays down a strict framework for:
• human rights and data protection;
• control and supervision;
The Europol Computer System will have three principal components:
I. an information system;
II. an analysis system;
III. an index system.
The system is currently under development and is expected to be fully operational by the year 2001. Together with the entry into force of the Europol Convention, an interim analysis system is in place.
Europol is funded from contributions by the Member States according to their GNP:
•1998: € 9.98 million
•1999: € 18.89 million
Reporting committee: Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights
Budgetary implications for the Assembly: none
Reference to committee: Resolution 1132 (1997)
Draft recommendation and draft order adopted unanimously by the committee on 3 September 1999
Members of the committee: MM Jansson (Chairperson), Bindig, Frunda, Moeller (Vice-Chairpersons), Mrs Aguiar, MM Akçali, Arzilli, Attard Montalto, Bal, Bartumeu Cassany, Brand, Bulic, Clerfayt, Columberg, Contestabile, Demetriou, Enright, Mrs Frimansdóttir, Mr Fyodorov, Mrs Gelderblom-Lankhout, Ms Hlavac, Mr Holovaty, Mrs Imbrasiene, MM Jaskiernia, Jurgens (alternate: Dees), MM Kelam, Kelemen, Lord Kirkhill, Mr Kresak, Mrs Krzyzanowska, Mr Le Guen, Ms Libane, MM Lintner, Loutfi, Magnusson, Mancina, Mrs Markovic-Dimova (alternate: Mr Tahiri), MM Martins, Marty, McNamara, Mozetic, Mrs Näslund, MM Nastase (alternate: Mrs Ionescu), Pavlov, Pollo, Polydoras, Mrs Pourtaud, MM Rippinger, Robles Fraga (alternate: Lopez Henares), Rodeghiero, Mrs Roth, Mrs Roudy, MM Saakashvili, Schwimmer, Shishlov, Simonsen, Solé Tura (alternate: Mrs Calleja), Solonari, Svoboda, Symonenko (alternate: Khunov), Tabajdi, Verivakis, Vishnyakov, Vyvadil, Weyts, Mrs Wohlwend.
N.B. The names of those members who took part in the vote are printed in italics.
Secretaries to the committee: Mr Plate, Ms Coin and Ms Kleinsorge
1 That is to say: "either extradite or try".
2 Resolution on combating terrorism in the European Union of 30 January 1997 (OJ C 055 of 24 February 1997, p. 27)
3 Article 8 provides that everyone has the right to respect for his private life without interference by a public authority. Article 10 states that everyone has the right to freedom of expression without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.
4 That is to say: "either extradite or try".
5 Article 13 of the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism provides that any state may declare that it reserves the right to refuse extradition in respect of any offence mentioned in Article 1 which it considers to be a political offence, an offence connected with a political offence or an offence inspired by political motives.
6 See the report of the conference, doc. AS/Jur (1999) 11, pp. 67-69.