EU, US eye joint human-rights guidelines for terrorism fight


Brussels : The European Union (EU) and the US Monday agreed to discuss the possibility of drawing up joint human-rights guidelines for fighting terrorism.

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The two sides “might explore… the possibility of developing a set of principles that might serve as a common reference point within the context of our shared efforts to counter terrorism”, a joint statement by EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg said.

That is because “respect for the rule of law and our respective obligations under international law, including international human rights… makes us more secure and strengthens us in the fight against terrorism”, it said.

The declaration was drawn up by EU and US diplomats and received final approval from EU foreign ministers Monday.

The Czech government, which currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, hopes that Obama will endorse it alongside Czech premier Jan Fischer before the end of the month, officials said.

The administration of US President Barack Obama is currently reviewing the controversial anti-terror policies of Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.

Policies such as the creation of the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison camp and the use of secret CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) flights to transport prisoners created outrage in much of Europe, where they were seen as a flagrant breach of human and legal rights.

Any decision to bring in joint EU-US human-rights guidelines would depend on the results of the Obama review, the declaration said.

Obama has vowed to close the Guantanamo camp, but has asked allies, including in Europe, to take in former detainees who have not been found guilty of any offences, but who fear arrest or torture if they go home.

The US has also offered to pay some of the costs of taking in former Guantanamo detainees.

But so far, only a handful of EU member states have decided to take any in.

Such decisions “fall within the sole responsibility and competence of a receiving EU member state”, the declaration insisted.

However, given the abolition of internal border checks in the EU’s Schengen area, member states have already agreed to share all the information they have on former inmates whom they adopt.

The EU-US declaration commits the US to sharing “all available (confidential and other) intelligence and information” on any prisoner sent to Europe.