Global Counter-Terrorism Forum studies legal strategy


Experts say that the fight against transnational terrorism should take place within the confines of the law and respect individuals’ fundamental rights.

By Hassan Benmehdi for Magharebia in Rabat – 13/02/12


[US State Department] The Global Counter-Terrorism Forum, launched last year in New York, aims to examine legal tools for tackling the international terror threat.

Members of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF) met last week in Rabat to examine legal measures for tackling the international extremist threat.

The two-day conference, which wrapped up Wednesday (February 8th), was attended by a range of lawyers, magistrates, and experts from 29 countries, various international NGOs and state officials.

The Arab world is now determined to wage a merciless war on the phenomenon of terrorism, but only within the bounds of law and current legal provisions, according to Ashraf Mohsen, the counter-terrorism co-ordinator at the Egyptian foreign ministry.

“This meeting, held in Morocco, is evidence of the commitment of Maghreb and Arab countries to the fight against this problem, whilst respecting the supremacy of the law and the various international conventions on human rights,” Mohsen said in a press statement.


a map of the Arab World

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The Director of Criminal Affairs and Pardons at the Moroccan justice ministry, Mohamed Abdenabaoui, emphasised that the primacy of law in handling terrorist affairs arises from a general conviction held by the wider family of magistrates and lawyers, as well as human rights NGOs.

He went on to say that every member state of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum was obliged to act in accordance with the concept.

Mohamed Amine Charrafi, a journalist and campaigner, told Magharebia that it would be a mistake to believe the world could be a haven of tranquillity.

“The threat of terrorism is very real, and indignation and security measures alone are not enough,” he said. He added that for any fight against terrorism to be effective it was important to combine security with determination, commitment, consideration, increased public liberty, a guarantee of fair justice for all and respect for human rights.

The attendees looked at draft recommendations prepared by the United States and Egypt, who hold the joint presidency of the GCTF, on best practice in terms of criminal justice for an effective counter-terrorism campaign.

Participants were unanimous in stressing that the threat of terrorism calls for countries to increase their efforts to implement international mechanisms for security co-operation and legal matters, particular in terms of shared border controls, as well as the exchange and handling of information and extraditions.

The organisers said the meeting was aimed at implementing the best possible practice in the fight against terrorism in the light of the Cairo Declaration, which calls for the development of good practices leading to effective action based on the supremacy of the law.

The meeting was part of the activities planned at the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum launch last September in New York, alongside the UN General Assembly. Five working groups were set up at the Forum, focussing on criminal justice, the rule of law, the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and Southeast Asia.

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