VSE was represented by our President João Lazaro at The UN Conference on Human Rights of Victims of Terrorism that took place on Thursday 11 February at the United Nations Headquarters. Victim Support England and Wales was also in attendance to ensure a strong presence of victim support organisations.
The Conference, organised By by the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Centre (UNCCT) under the auspices of the CTITF Working Group on Supporting and Highlighting Victims of Terrorism gathered experts from civil society, academia as well as regional and international organisations. The conference aimed to examine how States can strengthen their national legislation, procedures and practices, based on the report on the “Framework Principles for Securing the Human rights of Victim of Terrorism” (A/HRC/20/14) by the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism.
The Conference addressed ‘The obligation on public authorities to use reasonable care in preventing and responding to acts of terrorism’ during a session chaired by Canadian Ombudsman for Victims of Crime, Sue O’Sullivan. Victim Support Europe underscored the need for public authorities to establish comprehensive long term strategies responding to acts of terrorism & supporting victims of terrorism.
The following sessions talked about the ‘rights of victims of terrorism within the criminal justice process’, ‘Reparation for acts of terrorism’ and ‘The role of victims in preventing violent extremism.’ Discussion was raised on how States can support victims of terrorism and meet their needs without creating a hierarchy of victims. A presentation by the Spanish Embassy to the US talked about the problems and lessons learned in Spain to ensure victims of terrorism can have proper access to justiuce. Importantly many of the examples they gave are specifically covered by the EU Victims Directive. This is a strong encouragement for all States to implement the Directive.
VSE’s President João Lazaro cautioned against the instrumentalisation of victims within the counter radicalisation narrative. As Sue O’Sullivan, Canadian Federal Ombudsman for victim of crime mentioned, some victims might want to tell their story to make sure the same doesn’t happen to others. These victims want to be part of solution but should always be given the choice whether or not to engage in this counter-narrative. Above all the well-being and safety of the victim should remain the key priority when developing the counter-narrative. ‘We should always put the Support for victims of terrorism and their families first.’
VSE looks forward to continue to join forces with civil society, academia as well as regional and international organisations to improve the support of victims of terrorism.