Supporting Judges on the Front Lines in Combating Terrorism

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group-shot-malta_nov-director-thinks-conflicted-copy-2016-11-21In October, the CEELI Institute continued its ongoing efforts to support judges in countries on the front lines in the fight against terrorism, with support from the US Department of State’s Counterterrorism Bureau. This latest program brought together judges from the Middle East and North Africa–specifically, Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Lebanon–along with judicial counterparts from the US and Germany for the intensive three day exchange on useful practices for judges faced with adjudicating cases involving terrorism and national security issues. Our program curriculum again followed the format we developed for previous trainings provided to judges and prosecutors in the Western Balkans, relying on The Hague Memorandum on Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses, a Good Practice document based on relevant international guidance and developed under the auspices of the 30-nation Global Counter Terrorism Forum (see www.thegctf.org).

The October program was organized in Malta, in partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (www.theiij.org). Judges from the United States and Germany with specialized experience in counter-terrorism adjudication facilitated highly interactive participant exchanges, using real case studies, Socratic tools and hypothetical problems. We were gratified by the enthusiastic response and intense level of participant participation in the program. Participants were eager to share their experiences, ask questions of one another, and explore ways in which they could implement effective changes in their countries’ counter-terrorism adjudication practices. As this program continues, CEELI looks to build on the relationships it has established in working with these first two groups of judges in the MENA and Balkan regions. Additional workshops will be held in 2017 for judges from both regions – updated and improved with feedback from the previous sessions. In addition, a non-state-specific case management tool/checklist is already in the preliminary stages of development with the idea being to create a universally applicable tool for judges who will be overseeing complicated terrorism cases in the future.

Promoting Good Practices for Terrorism Adjudication in the Balkans

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Group shot CT 1606In June, the CEELI Institute continued its efforts on a multi-year program to engage judges handling complex cases involving issues of terrorism and national security, including the increasingly serious threats posed in Europe by the transit of foreign terrorist fighters. The program, which aims to promote understanding and use of relevant international “good practices” for judges on these matters, including particularly the Global Counter-terrorism Forum’s (GCTF) Hague Memorandum Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses, convened a group of 21 judges from the Western Balkans for a 3-day session form June 15-17. Judges from Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia, as well as prosecutors from Macedonia, were present at the session which elaborated on key good practices and adjudication techniques that were deemed most important to the region during a planning meeting held in February of this year.

The project is implemented in partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law, based in Malta, and is funded by the US Department of State.

Joining us for this the June session was a “deep bench” of experts including the Hon. John Tunheim, Chief Judge of the US District Court for Minnesota, and a counter-terrorism adjudication expert with years of experience working in the Balkans; Judge Rene Elkerbout, Presiding Judge, District Court of The Hague in the Netherlands (who handled one of the Netherlands groundbreaking foreign fighter cases); Rajko Kozmelj, Western Balkans Counter-Terrorism Initiative Chair at The Permanent Representation of the Republic of Slovenia to the EU, and Mike Mullaney (remotely from Washington, DC), Counter-terrorism Section Chief, National Security Division, U.S. Department of Justice.

The interactive program benefited from the vast and differing experiences among faculty and participants alike. The international experts from Europe and the United States created a thorough depiction of counter-terrorism adjudication across different legal systems that helped participants gain a solid understanding of relevant best practices and how to incorporate them into their future work.

We look forward to further sessions of this project, both for Balkan judges, and for those from the Middle East and North Africa.

Bolstering Counterterrorism Adjudication in the Balkans and Beyond

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The CEELI Institute recently began a multi-year program that will engage judges handling complex cases involving issues of terrorism and national security, including the increasingly serious threats posed in Europe by the transit of foreign fighters. In particular, the program aims to promote understanding and use of relevant international “good practices” fCT Strategy Sessionor judges on these matters, including particularly the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s (GCTF) Hague Memorandum Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses. The program effort is being undertaken in partnership with the Malta-based International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) and with funding from the US State Department. Participating judges will be drawn primarily from the Western Balkans and Middle East/North Africa (MENA) regions.

In light of the increased terrorism across Europe, the vast transit of refugees to Europe from Syria, the continuing conflicts in Syria and Iraq, and the particular burdens this puts on both the Balkan countries and countries throughout MENA, the issues encompassed by the GCTF Good Practice documents are more important than ever. Judges across the region will benefit from greater training and preparation on how to handle cases involving both domestic terrorism and the new phenomenon presented by foreign fighters.

The initial sessions are being conducted at the CEELI Institute facility in Prague, and include an intensive 3-day workshop that aims to familiarize the judges with the “Good Practice” documents and expand on their meanings, implications, and relevance to cases the judges might find themselves presiding over in the near future. Workshops will be regionally specific and the Institute intends on training no fewer than 80 judges over the course of this project. International experts from both Europe and the United States will be engaged throughout the project to help create a thorough, yet understandable curricula that will help participant judges gain a solid understanding of relevant best practices and how to incorporate them into their future work.