FIDH calls for Security Council intervention and arrest and trial of suspects by independent and impartial tribunal

Meeting in Paris on 19-21 October 2001, the International Bureau of the FIDH reiterated its condemnation of the terrorist attacks of 11th September and reasserted the right to self-defence in the context of these attacks, which are of unprecedented scale in the history of terrorism. However, the FIDH expressed deep concern regarding the military action launched by the United States in Afghanistan.

The FIDH recalls that although terrorist acts must be repressed, any such repression must respect the universal principles of protection of human rights and the framework of international legality.

"FIDH welcomes the acknowledgement of the totalitarian nature of the Taliban regime, however belatedly. However, the military reprisal is not a concerted action by the international community within the UN, but is essentially a unilateral operation by the United States with the support of allies, some of whom are traditional allies and some of whom are new", a spokesperson on behalf of the organisation said. "The onus is on the Security Council to act immediately, in conformity with the UN Charter, to re-establish peace and international security and to contribute to a democratic resolution of the difficulties in Afghanistan."

Expressing concern about the lack of transparency surrounding the military intervention, the FIDH said "It is unacceptable that any proof that may have been collected establishing the involvement of the Bin Laden network and of the complicity of the Taliban regime has not been presented for a debate to the Security Council. It would be unacceptable for the United States to decide unilaterally to extend their action to other countries, in the absence of a Security Council decision." Restating its concern for the increased suffering of the Afghan civilian population despite ineffective military-humanitarian aid, FIDH called for a massive independent system of humanitarian aid.

Expressing doubt that the military reprisal can satisfy the legitimate need for security felt by the population affected by terrorism in the United States and many other States in the world, FIDH stated "There is a danger of entering a spiral of violence, exacerbating the resentment against power of the USA and the "Western world", thereby triggering terrorist attacks instead of stopping them."

There is also a risk that the fight against terrorism will be used as an excuse for unjustified restriction on civil liberties in many democratic states and that in many authoritarian states, existing arbitrary repression will increase. FIDH reasserts the right to rebel against injustice and warns that it must not be suppressed in the pretext of the fight against terrorism.

It is important to react with detachment while respecting the rule of law. This can be achieved primarily by the arrest and the trial of those responsible for the crimes by an independent, impartial tribunal. Justice must overcome the temptation to exact revenge, to do otherwise is to fall into the trap set by the terrorists. The attacks of 11th September should not lead only to increased security measures but should provoke deeper reflection and radical change in the behaviour of the wealthier countries. They must stop considering only their self-interest and privileges.

The international co-operation sought, and already achieved to a large extent, by the US in the framework of a long-term reprisal against terrorism will reach its goal only if it progresses on the path of legality and does not regress. This must be done through the establishment of an independent impartial legal system, the development of a more effective judicial co-operation between States, the setting up of financial co-operation to fight all trafficking and laundering, and the refusal of rag-bag incriminations, which serve as an excuse for arbitrary repression under the pretext of terrorist danger.

The United States in particular cannot go on taking advantage of their hegemony to avoid respecting international law which binds other Nations.

They have to revisit their support for oppressive regimes, for example that of Saudi Arabia, take all necessary steps to ensure the implementation of UN decisions such as those concerning the situation in Palestine, which must be urgently solved, and stop rejecting international treaties (rights of the children, environment, anti-personnel landmines, International Criminal Court, etc...) that help build a more just world.

Police and military action is inadequate to prevent the multiplication of terrorist attacks in the future; it is necessary to respond effectively to the numerous violations of human rights including civil, political, economic, social or cultural rights, which sow the seeds of despair and hence fanaticism. Democratic regimes must replace dictatorial ones.

No fight against terrorism will be effective unless a fairer globalisation is sought, replacing exclusion by non-discriminatory inclusion.

The only valid coalition is that of the entire international community for the respect of "all human rights for all".

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