Incorporate the requirements of international and regional instruments against terrorism into domestic law and enact timely anti-terrorism laws while respecting human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Legislatures play a central role in developing and enacting legislation to address terrorism. International and regional conventions may require domestic legislation to become effective in many jurisdictions. United Nations Security Council resolutions call upon Member States to enact legislation to address particular terrorist threats, such as terrorism financing and criminalizing preparatory acts, but leave latitude for national legislatures to develop specific approaches to achieve those goals based on the local context. Adoption of international good practices likewise often requires national legislative action, which should be harmonised with international conventions and resolutions and regional-level conventions that address terrorism matters.3
Parliamentarians therefore are in key positions to develop and enact timely legislation to address terrorism, including translating the universal anti-terrorism instruments into national legislation. Such universal definitions assist international cooperation and avoid double standards. Legislation should shape a consistent national plan that addresses inter alia factors conducive to terrorism. Legislators’ role is independent. Coordination with the executive branch of the government may contribute to sound preparation of legal framework on CT.
Executive branches are typically deeply involved in preventing and/or investigating and prosecuting terrorism. Parliamentarians are in the best position to draft laws in CT that meet international obligations and good practices while ensuring the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms including those rights relating specifically to the criminal justice system, such as due process and a fair trial, and also those relating to society more generally. Such legislation should be non-partisan and built around consensus to garner support from society. Parliamentarians can look to existing reference laws that can be tailored to meet the local context.
Anti-terrorism laws and policies should be targeted and not overly inclusive, and they should be regularly reviewed and amended and fine-tuned to evolving circumstances. Related laws, for example those related to arms trafficking, border control, and human smuggling, can be relevant. Regular and careful gap analysis of existing laws is a useful exercise.
Parliamentarians are elected officials, and therefore typically serve for a limited period of time, with new members joining their ranks. It is therefore recommended to ensure continuity that legislatures have standing committees of parliamentarians to draft, review and amend terrorism legislation, including through public hearings and open debate, to address emerging threats in compliance with international law including human rights and international humanitarian law. Such committees should include parliamentarians and legal professional staff with experience on justice affairs. Ensuring inclusiveness by assigning representatives from different regions, groups, and backgrounds will enhance the legitimacy of the parliamentary committees.
3. For example, Good Practice 12 of the GCTF’s Rabat Memorandum suggests that although States may approach codification of terrorism offenses differently depending on their legal traditions, they should criminalize the offenses outlined in the relevant international counterterrorism legal instruments. Adequate incorporation into national legislation of the international counterterrorism provisions and obligations constitutes a key element in a comprehensive and coherent counterterrorism legal framework.