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2010 | HRC Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism - Ten Areas of Best Practices in Countering Terrorism - A/HRC/16/51

This document is the annual report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, submitted to the Human Rights Council on 22 December 2010. In his report, the Special Rapporteur acknowledges that measures to combat terrorism may violate human rights and the rule of law. Therefore he underscores that effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights should not be in conflict, but complementary and mutually reinforcing. To achieve this, the Special Rapporteur identifies 10 areas of best practice applicable to states’ legislative framework to combat terrorism. Best practice refers to what is required by international (human rights) law, as well as to principles beyond these legally binding obligations.

The report states that counter-terrorism legislation adopted by states must be consistent with human rights and international humanitarian law. In so far counter-terrorism law confers discretionary powers upon public agencies, those powers may never violate peremptory or non-derogable norms of international law, nor impair the essence of any human right. To safe guard that discretionary powers are not exercised arbitrarily or unreasonably, the Special Rapporteur advocates to include review mechanisms in the counter-terrorism legislation, varying from internal and external supervision of agencies and public servants to independent (judicial) review.

Effective remedies for violations of human rights

The Special Rapporteur devotes explicit attention to situations where counter-terrorism law and practice result in a violation of human rights and advances the importance of free access to seek effective remedies for victims whose human rights have been infringed. The Special Rapporteur recommends to embed in counter-terrorism legislation provisions that ensure a speedy, effective and enforceable remedy. Effective remedies - such as compensation and the exclusion of evidence obtained in violation of human rights- are to be obtained via a court or oversight institution, such as an ombudsman, human rights commission or national human rights institution. Courts shall have the ultimate responsibility to ensure that this right is effective.