Strengthening Judicial Capacity to Combat Terrorism in the Middle East and North Africa

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In 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. The most recent program was designed to support judges from the Middle East and North Africa, and brought together judges and prosecutors from Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia. The intensive three-day exchange focused on best 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 October program was held in Malta, as part of our ongoing partnership with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (www.theiij.org), itself a leader in counterterrorism programming efforts. Judges and prosecutors from the United States, France and the Netherlands 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.

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.