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UN expert says anti-terror measures could bring human rights violations

UN expert says anti-terror measures could bring human rights violations

New anti-terrorism measures in some States could violate human rights, a senior UN official has warned the Security Council, according to a document released today at UN Headquarters in New York.

“There is evidence that some Governments are now introducing measures that may erode core human rights safeguards,” cautioned Bacre Ndiaye, the Director of the New York Office of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, in his address to the Security Council’s counter-terrorism committee, which was set up by Council resolution 1373 (2001). The text of the speech, delivered earlier this month, was annexed to a letter from the committee chairman to the Council President.

Mr. Ndiaye warned that the misapplication of the resolution could lead to unwarranted infringements on civil liberties. "In some countries, non-violent activities have been considered as terrorism, and excessive measures have been taken to suppress or restrict individual rights, including the presumption of innocence, the right to a fair trial, freedom from torture, privacy rights, freedom of expression and assembly, and the right to seek asylum."

Noting that this result was "clearly not the aim" of the Council when it passed resolution 1373, Mr. Ndiaye stresses the need to ensure that "such unintended and undesirable consequences of the global effort against terrorism are avoided."

"On our part," he said, "the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights is committed to advising Governments on the content of human rights standards in the light of international norms and jurisprudence that may be relevant in the context of anti-terrorism measures."