Recommendation 3

Establish effective justice sector institutions and interagency bodies.

Justice sector institutions are typically based on organic laws that establish the parameters of their authority. Interagency bodies are usually established and fostered through legislation. Their conception and design aim at pursuing coherent national level CT policies mandating different bodies with specific functions and roles to converge into a unique country vision and action. It is vital that such representative institutions establish responsibilities within the civilian criminal justice system. Parliamentarians therefore play an important role in establishing effective justice sector institutions that can prevent and counter terrorism and related criminal activities.

Conceiving and amending such institutional organic laws builds a broad foundation of national CT efforts. Parliamentarians should actively play the primary role of encouraging, developing and legitimizing sustainable justice sector institutions and organic laws. Judicial reforms can assist in this process. Specialised prosecutors, task forces, and courts can serve the purpose of effective prosecution and adjudication, as terrorism is a crime that is more effectively combatted with expertise and experience. Community policing efforts can foster better understanding and local knowledge. The development of a rapid response capacity to changing situations is often necessary.

In regions where the rule of law has been absent or undermined due to civil or military unrest or misguided policies related to prior CT activities, parliamentarians play a critical role in ensuring that basic rights are restored. There can be no impunity for torture or other gross violations of human rights. In this context, rights of the victims of terrorism,4 access to justice, and redress mechanisms should be guaranteed. It is a good practice for parliamentarians to play an active role in drafting and reviewing legislation related to the establishment and authority of different institutional or interagency bodies and consider centralizing entities involved in preventing, investigating and countering terrorism under one authority where appropriate with a view to maximize information sharing. Parliamentarians should encourage justice institutions to be receptive to regular improvement of their technical capacities. Clearly defined mandates further ensure that authority is not abused. For other justice sector institutions, such as the judiciary, parliamentarians should ensure their independence and adequate resources. As representatives of society, parliamentarians should make sure that misguided efforts to counter terrorism do not undermine the very rule of law values that the terrorists wish to destroy.

When an international tribunal or a court has been established to focus on the adjudication of crimes perpetrated in a country, as citizens’ direct representatives, parliamentarians should play an active role for observing proceedings as well as file inquiries. This may involve the adoption of emergency conditions and rules for certain countries.

4. See the GCTF’s Madrid Memorandum on Good Practices for Assistance to Victims of Terrorism Immediately after the Attack and in Criminal Proceedings.