Counter-terrorism measures need to protect human rights: Holy See

Effective counter-terrorism measures should serve not sacrifice the protection of human rights, the Holy See representative told the United Nations this week.

"Effective counter-terrorism measures and the protection of human rights are not conflicting goals," Archbishop Celestino Migliore said, according to a Catholic Online report.

"Indeed, the former must serve the latter, because the protection of human rights is the primary objective of any counter-terrorism strategy."

The apostolic nuncio, who was addressing the UN General Assembly committee debate on "Measures to eliminate international terrorism," also stressed the importance of the passage and implementation of a Comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism.

"Terrorism is a cultural manifestation - in the sense of being anti-culture and anti-civilisation - of warped perceptions of reality, of xenophobic complexes, of contempt for the other, of seeing the other as a threat, of cynical abuse of religion," he said.

"The terrorist's claim to be acting on behalf of the poor is a patent falsehood," he added.

"The victims of the radical breakdown of order which terrorism seeks to achieve," he noted, "include above all the countless millions of men and women who are least able to withstand a collapse of international solidarity."

Terrorism "uses innocent people as means to obtain its ends," he said, "cynically using innocent individuals and entire populations as human shields to hide and protect terrorists and their weapons."

Nevertheless, despite the threat, the international community must refuse to "sacrifice fundamental human rights in the name of security," Archbishop Migliore insisted.

Such acts, he said, "would corrode the very values" that the nation or international body intends to protect, "alienate large part of the world population and diminish the moral strength of such a strategy".

The Vatican nuncio said that the world community must not allow terrorists the ability "to point to this kind of deficiency on the part of states for their actions, because it can only dignify in the eyes of some the grievances they claim justify their aberrant behaviour."

Yet, he stressed that nations should not use the terrorists' own "contempt for human life and dignity" as a justification to deny internationally agreed and accepted humanitarian and human rights treatment.

Further, he said, any international terrorism convention "should make clear that no cause, no matter how just, can excuse or legitimise the deliberate killing or maiming of civilian populations."

"No cause, no matter how just, can excuse or legitimise the deliberate killing or maiming of civilians and non-combatants," he said.

Although Archbishop Migliore made no specific reference to the war in Iraq, his comments came just days after British doctors released an estimate that up to 655,000 people have been killed since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Don't sacrifice human rights on counterterrorism's altar, Vatican nuncio tells U.N. (Catholic Online, 17/10/06)
655,000 'excess' dead in Iraq (Commonweal, 11/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations

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18 Oct 2006