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Council of Europe adopts new legal standards to tackle extremism, terrorism
May 20, 2015, 10:27 am

The pan-European human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe, adopted in Brussels Tuesday three documents to fight radicalisation and terrorism, and stop foreign fighters. Thorbjorn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, told a press conference after the 125th session of the Council's Committee of Ministers this afternoon that they have adopted "a very important tool for Europe" namely the additional protocol to the Council's convention on the prevention of terrorism.

"The UN asked us to work on the additional protocol in order to constitute a legal basis on how to take on this new phenomenon of foreign fighters," he said. He explained that the protocol will require member states to outlaw various actions including intentionally taking part in terrorist groups, receiving terrorism training or travelling abroad for the purpose of terrorism.

Jagland said he will be travelling to the UN in mid-June to report about this to the Security Council. He said he could not give the exact number of foreign fighters but added that their number is increasing.

Speaking at the joint press conference, Belgian foreign minister Didier Reynders said they have also adopted today the first political declaration and a three-year action plan on the fight against violent extremism and radicalisation leading to terrorism. He said the meeting of the foreign ministers from the 47-member Strasbourg-based Council discussed radicalisation, extremism and terrorism and how to establish stability in the member states. "We in Belgium are quite concerned about the foreign fighters going to Syria and Iraq," he noted.

The ministerial meeting took place in Brussels at the end of Belgium's six-month chairmanship of the organisation. The chairmanship of the Council passed to Bosnia and Herzegovina. Igor Crnadak, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina, told the press conference that "Bosnia-Herzegovina sees this as a big chance to present ourselves as responsible and accountable country. We will strengthen democracy, rule of law inter-cultural relations . This six months will be a big challenge for us to bring the European agenda closer to the people."

Meanwhile, the European foreign ministers in a declaration said "terrorism has a global character and represents a growing threat to human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe and all over the world. The cross-border nature of the terrorist threat means that a joint international effort is needed. We must avoid having any gaps in our approach which terrorists can exploit.

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