Fri, 20 Mar 2009

The objective should not be to fight terrorists but to defeat them

The universality of human rights and the work of the Council of Europe – 'Lecture Series of the Americas' speech by the Rt Hon Terry Davis, Secretary General of the Council of Europe:


While I am on the subject of the fight against terrorism, allow me to make one important point. It is vitally important to dismiss the notion that Europe is soft on terrorism. It is nonsense. The fact is that Europe has a long and bloody experience of terrorism. We have learned – the hard way - that the objective should not be to fight terrorists but to defeat them. At the end of the day, the only effective anti-terrorist policy is one which stops more terrorists than it helps to recruit.

That is why in Europe we insist on respect for human rights and the rule of law. Contrary to the belief of some people, the European Convention on Human Rights is not a collection of lax, ineffectual and utopian principles. It is a body of international law, which was drafted in difficult and uncertain times and has been tested in courts ever since. The Convention balances the rights and freedoms of individuals against the interest of the larger community. It allows for a robust, effective and fair response to the threats faced by society, including terrorism. In Europe, we reject the bogus choice between security and freedom, and we are delighted that the new US administration has embraced this approach.


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