Supporting Judges Who Deal with Terrorism Cases

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In March, 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. The most recent program was designed to support judges from the Western Balkans and brought together judges and prosecutors from seven Balkan countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia. These countries continue to be on the front line of European counterterrorism threats, as they sit directly abreast of the main transit routes for Syrian and other refugees, and see first-hand the phenomenon of returning foreign terrorist fighters. The intensive three-day exchange focused on useful practices for judges adjudicating cases involving terrorism and other national security issues, with special reference to 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 (www.thegctf.org).

The March program was held in Prague, and we again welcomed a representative from the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (www.theiij.org), a valuable CEELI partner on our counterterrorism programming efforts. Judges from the United States and Germany with specialized experience in counterterrorism adjudication facilitated highly interactive exchanges, using firsthand experiences, case studies, and hypothetical problems to engage the assembled group and drive the conversation. Valuable regional insights were provided by a Brussels-based counterterrorism expert from Slovenia. Additional contributions were provided by the US Department of Justice’s Resident Legal Advisors from Turkey and the US European Command (Stuttgart), both career prosecutors.

The CEELI Institute’s judicial counterterrorism efforts represent a unique opportunity to work directly with judges who are struggling to handle terrorism cases in a region plagued by new threats and challenges. These judges are often grappling with issues of first impression involving new laws, new kinds of cases and evidence, new factual scenarios and new sentencing challenges. This program provided them an important opportunity to share experiences and good practices in addressing these key issues. The judges were highly motivated and engaged.
The next stage of this project will involve a similar program for judges in the Middle East/North Africa region, to be held in fall 2017. We are also working on developing a case management tool/checklist we hope will serve as a universally applicable tool for judges who will be overseeing complicated terrorism cases in the future.

 

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.

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.

CEELI Institute works with Balkan Judges Handling Terrorism Cases

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CT Strategy Session

In February, in partnership with the Malta-based International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) and with funding from the US State Department, the CEELI Institute initiated a multi-year program working with judges from the western Balkan region who must handle complex cases involving issues of terrorism, national security, and the transit of foreign fighters.  In particular, the program will promote understanding and use of relevant international guidance for judges on these matters, including particularly the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s (GCTF) Hague Memorandum Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses.

In light of the increased terrorism across Europe, the vast transit of refugees to Europe from Syria, and the particular burdens this puts on the Balkan countries, the issues encompassed by the GCTF Good Practice documents are more important than ever. The continuing civil war in Syria and other conflicts in the region put special burdens on the Balkans, with increasing numbers of foreign terrorist fighters either leaving their native Balkan homes to go fight abroad and then returning, or foreign fighters entering the Balkans under the guise of being refugees. In either case, judges across the region need to be trained and prepared to handle cases involving both domestic terrorism and the new phenomenon presented by foreign fighters.

A preliminary strategy session was held at the Institute in early February, and brought together judges from five of the affected Balkan countries, along with a U.S. judge, highly experienced counterterrorism experts, CEELI Institute and IIJ staff. The Institute was delighted to welcome back Judge John R. Tunheim, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota, and a veteran faculty member of some of our most prominent programs and a wealth of knowledge on the Balkan region, to participate in and lead several segments of the meeting. Discussions surrounded the current experiences and capacity of the judiciaries across the Balkans in dealing with cases involving terrorism, including examination of particular cases handled to date by courts in the region. The two-day session also involved an in-depth discussion of key GCTF Good Practices, and their relevance to the work of the judges in the region, as they face increasing numbers of such cases.

The Institute is now in the process of preparing more comprehensive sessions for a larger group of judges from across the region, to explore the issues involved in handling terrorism and foreign fighter cases in greater depth. At least twenty judges from six countries – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia – will be selected by their high courts or court presidents to participate in the first training session in early summer of this year.