Workshop Addresses Challenges of Prosecuting Terrorists

When terrorists are prosecuted for their actions, often information gathered through the use of intelligence, informers or undercover operatives needs to be presented to the court to prove the case.  The introduction of such evidence can prove challenging for many judicial systems and is just one reason why terrorism cases raise particular professional issues for prosecutors in many parts of the world. 

With this in mind, the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED), with support from the Governments of the United States of America and Turkey, drew  prominent prosecutors from around the world, to Ankara, Turkey for a workshop from 18 to 20 July 2011.  Along with representatives from regional and international organizations, the prosecutors discussed a range of challenges that criminal justice systems face in prosecuting terrorists while respecting the rule of law and human rights.

The agenda focused on the difficulties prosecutors confront due to challenging and uncommon case-management issues, such as the one outlined above related to what are known as special investigation techniques. Participants discussed the handling of privileged or classified  information, the protection of witnesses, and ways to establish cooperative relations with law-enforcement and intelligence communities, something that can be critical to a successful prosecution.

A key objective of the workshop was for participants to learn from each other’s experiences and to exchange good practices for building cases more effectively and avoiding potential obstacles during judicial proceedings.

Security Council Resolution 1373 (2001) requires all Member States to bring terrorists to justice.  The Committee, while recognizing the successes of Member States in this area, also acknowledges the challenges presented by different legal systems, levels of socioeconomic development and regional issues.

The workshop in Turkey is the second of its kind that has been organized by the Committee. The first took place in December 2010 at UN Headquarters in New York.

As a follow-up to the workshop, a report will be produced, compiling the challenges identified and good practices employed by the participants. The Committee will share this report with Member States, along with international, regional and sub-regional organizations. It will also encourage the participants to maintain contact with each other, so they can continue to exchange information, collaborate on regional issues, and build upon each others’ knowledge.

This page was last updated on: 28-Jul-2011 11:41 AM EST