Since September 2020, ICCT has investigated the linkages between terrorism and international crimes. ICCT spearheaded the "Linkages between Terrorism and International Crimes Project", which was conducted in association with the Global Counter Terrorism Forum’s Criminal Justice and Rule of Law Working Group. The project builds on the , and other GCTF criminal justice best practice documents to which ICCT had contributed. This aimed to:
- Increasing the understanding of the nexus between terrorism, sexual and gender-based violence, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and international crimes;
- Strengthening the (international and national) legislative framework and its implementation;
- Overcoming the jurisdiction challenges related to the linkages between terrorism, sexual and gender-based violence, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and international crimes;
- Enhancing the investigation and prosecution of terrorist-related crimes with linkages to sexual and gender-based violence, human trafficking, migrant smuggling and international crimes;
- Strengthening the position of victims.
To achieve these objectives, ICCT comprehensively supported the development of the a number of Memorandum and Recommendations consolidating best practices. This included the “Memorandum on Criminal Justice Approaches to the Linkages Between Terrorism and Core International Crimes, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Crimes, Human Trafficking, Migrant Smuggling, Slavery, and Crimes Against Children”. This was endorsed by GCTF Member States at the Eleventh GCTF Ministerial Plenary Meeting on 7 October 2021, spreading knowledge and enabling the consolidation of best practices across the 30 GCTF Member States. This built on numerous other GCTF documents to which ICCT contributed, including the:
- Abuja Recommendations on the Collection, Use and Sharing of Evidence for Purposes of Criminal Prosecution of Terrorist Suspects;
- Rabat Memorandum on Good Practices for Effective Counterterrorism Practice in the Criminal Justice Sector;
- Madrid Memorandum on Good Practices for Assistance to Victims of Terrorism Immediately after the Attack and in Criminal Proceedings;
- Addendum to The Hague Good Practices on the Nexus between Transnational Organized Crime and Terrorism: Focus on Criminal Justice.
About the project
Many terrorism-related crimes have an international dimension and overlap in scope with other types of crimes. The nexus between trafficking and sexual and gender-based violence in the context of the activities of terrorist groups has already been recognized in Security Council resolution (UNSCR) 2195 (2014) and subsequently in UNSCR 2331 (2016) and UNSCR 2388 (2017). Terrorist organizations use sexual violence and human trafficking systematically and strategically as a tactic of terrorism and as a source of financing. The link with migrant smuggling will also be explored.
Despite the continuous use of sexual violence, particularly those related to conflicts, and the increased attention of the international community, prosecution of these crimes remains very low. Terrorist acts can also amount to international crimes. Some terrorist acts can constitute crimes against humanity provided that the terrorist attack is part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against a civilian population or war crimes when committed during armed conflicts. In some situations terrorist acts may also constitute genocide if they were committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group, as such.
States are required to prosecute and hold the perpetrators of terrorist acts accountable for their actions in a manner duly reflecting the seriousness of the offence, in accordance with international human rights law, international refugee law, and international humanitarian law, and within the rule of law. The overlap between terrorism, transnational organized crime and international crimes raises several criminal justice challenges. It triggers questions relating to the applicable legal regimes, jurisdiction, cooperation matters and evidentiary challenges.
This project developed the “Memorandum on Criminal Justice Approaches to the Linkages Between Terrorism and Core International Crimes, Sexual and Gender-Based Violence Crimes, Human Trafficking, Migrant Smuggling, Slavery, and Crimes Against Children” by drawing on extensive research into criminal justice responses to the linkages, identifying good practices. ICCT identified stakeholders who could contribute their expertise, and convened them in two expert meetings. ICCT drafted the framework document, organised extensive consultations with GCTF members, then incorporated their stances into the final document. The Memorandum was endorsed by GCTF Member States at the Eleventh GCTF Ministerial Plenary Meeting on 7 October 2021. The endorsement of this document and the recommendations it contains on criminal justice responses to the linkages between terrorism, transnational organized crimes and international crimes will result in increased awareness of the issues, knowledge transfer from practitioners to policy makers, and consolidated policies across GCTF Member States.
The Memorandum explores the fact that certain acts committed by terrorist groups can constitute core international crimes. Several United Nations Security Council resolutions (UNSCRs), most notably UNSCRs 1373 (2001), 2178 (2014), and 2396 (2017), oblige States to ensure that their domestic laws and regulations establish serious criminal offenses sufficient to provide the ability to prosecute and to penalize in a manner duly reflecting the seriousness of the offenses and crimes related to terrorist acts.
The endorsement of this document and the recommendations will result in increased awareness of the issues, knowledge transfer from practitioners to policy makers, and consolidated policies across GCTF Member State.