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CJI for joint intl. probe into terrorist acts
Published on 21 Nov. 2009 11:00 PM IST
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Chief Justice of India (CJI) K.G. Balakrishnan Saturday endorsed a suggestion for joint international probes into acts of terrorism and trial of terrorists by a supranational tribunal such as the International Criminal Court. Balakrishnan supported the idea in his inaugural address to a two-day-long International Conference of Jurists on the issue of terrorism at Vigyan Bhavan here. It was inaugurated by President Pratibha Patil. The conference was attended by Singapore Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong and Justice Awn S. Al-Khasawneh of the International Court of Justice and Union Minister for Law and Justice M. Veerappa Moily. Balakrishnan supported the idea of international probes into acts of terrorism, while dwelling upon the reluctance of some countries to act against terrorists operating from their soil due to the local support enjoyed by such terror outfits. “To tackle such circumstances, there has been a constructive suggestion that terrorist attacks should be treated as a unique form of armed conflict,” said Balakrishnan. “And in such situations of armed conflict, obligations can be placed on all nations to collaborate in the investigation and prosecution of people responsible for terrorist attacks, irrespective of the location of the attacks or the nationality of the perpetrators,” the CJI told the conference. “This calls for a blurring of the distinction between the international and domestic nature of armed conflict when it comes to terrorist strikes,” the CJI added. Endorsing the trial of terrorists at international tribunals, the CJI said, “Another suggestion is that of treating terrorist attacks as offences recognised under International Criminal Law, such as ‘crimes against humanity’ which can then be tried before a supranational tribunal such as the International Criminal Court.” “The obvious practical problem with this suggestion, however, is that prosecutions before this court need to be initiated by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and the latter may be reluctant to do so in instances of one-off terrorist attacks as opposed to continuing conflicts,” the CJI added. The CJI also called for restraint by the media, specially visual, in round-the-clock telecast of the scenes of terror attacks, saying this leads to considerable amplification of “the symbolic impact of terrorist attacks on the minds of ordinary citizens”. “The proliferation of 24-hour TV news channels and the digital medium has ensured that quite often some disturbing images and statements reach a wide audience within a short span of time. One of the ill effects of unrestrained coverage is that it can provoke a disproportionate level of anger among the masses,” he added. Terming terrorism as “a global problem, calling for a global response”, President Patil too endorsed global counter-terrorism efforts while squarely laying the responsibility to contain acts of terrorism on the country where the terrorists operate. “Terrorism easily transcends borders and thus becomes a transnational crime. Being a crime against humanity, it ought to be recognised as a common enemy of all nations. Terror threat against one is a threat against all,” she said. “The global counter-terrorism efforts may be an arduous and lengthy campaign but must persistently target the entire global network. Countries must individually own up the responsibilities as must the international community in collectively defeating terrorism and not deflect responsibility on to non-state actors,” said Patil. “The responsibility to deal with them lies with the state from which they operate as it is the sanctuary, support and finances that they receive which sustains their heinous and perverse acts,” she added.

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