The Committee for vigilance in the fight against terrorism has issued its latest annual report, in which it is critical of the growing arsenal of repressive measures adopted for police and judiciary.
The committee – known as the Comité T – was created in 2005 and is made up of representatives of human rights organisations, lawyers and academics. It reports every year on the situation as regards the respect of human rights in fighting terrorism.
In recent years, and in particular since the terrorist attack sin France in 2015 and Belgium in 2016, the country’s legislative arsenal has been reinforced to aid in the battle against terrorism, the report notes.
“That battle, even if it is indispensable, and no-one would disagree it is, cannot be fought to the detriment of respect for basic rights,” said the Human Rights League, which is part of the Committee.
“In the absence of an effective and diligent national institution for human rights, the Comité T has taken on the mission of evaluating Belgium’s respect of its obligations with regard to human rights.”
Terrorism itself, the group points out, is a negation of fundamental rights and liberties.
“To wish to impose a political or religious point of view by serious violence against innocent victims is a denial of the very foundations of the rule of law,” the League said.
“To fight terrorism is therefore to affirm and protect our basic liberties. Human rights are not only the proper basis of any satisfactory, just and effective reaction to the terrorist phenomenon but, in addition, the respect for and effective exercise of our basic rights and freedoms should also be the aim of legislation.”
In particular the committee’s report pinpoints the problem of the growing number of measures adopted to reinforce the powers of police, intelligence services and judiciary.
“It is appropriate to ask if a response to terrorism that is almost exclusively centred on repression is legitimate, but also if it is really the most effective response,” the report says.
“The problem is more complex than that, and cannot be solved by adding to police resources. This proliferation of security measures as a political solution begins to appear like a failure of democracy.”