Expert insights strengthen protection measures and security protocols for domestic legal and institutional frameworks.

Expert insights strengthen protection measures and security protocols for domestic legal and institutional frameworks.

22 and 23 May 2024

A strong and independent judiciary that adjudicates terrorism and other national security offenses fairly and expeditiously is critical for public confidence in the legitimacy of judicial institutions. It is an effective deterrent to terrorism and it minimizes the risk of violations of fundamental human rights. Providing security and protection to witnesses, victims, judges, court personnel, law enforcement, and other justice actors who are involved in the investigation and prosecution for terrorism cases’ proceedings is therefore essential. 

The GCTF Criminal Justice and Rule of Law  Working Group (CJ-RoL WG), co-chaired by Italy and Nigeria, with the International Institute for Justice and the Rule of Law (IIJ) (a GCTF-Inspired Institution) as the Implementing Partner, organized an expert meeting focusing on Good Practices 4 and 7 of the GCTF’s Hague Memorandum on Good Practices for the Judiciary in Adjudicating Terrorism Offenses (Hague Memorandum), which address witness protection and courthouse and courtroom security respectively. The objective of the meeting was to further discuss good practices around the protection offered to witnesses, victims, and justice officials in terrorism cases’ proceedings with a view to informing the development of a GCTF Toolkit on this matter. The one-day expert meeting was followed by the second Plenary Meeting of the Working Group under the auspices of its Co-Chairs.  

During the expert meeting, participants shared experiences and expertise on protection measures and security protocols that could be implemented or reinforced in their domestic legal and institutional frameworks. The sharing of experiences highlighted the diverging realities on the ground when it comes to witness protection and courtroom security, including discrepancies in the quality and comprehensiveness of protection and security afforded to relevant parties that result from budget, staffing and equipment constraints and competing priorities. The meeting also emphasized the GCTF Co-Chairs’ current priorities, namely integrating more fully the effective and rights-based counterterrorism expertise and experience of African States in the GCTF’s work, as well as promoting women’s empowerment, and practitioners-focused activities. 

The Working Group aims to support the development of effective criminal justice systems capable of prosecuting terrorism offences within a rule-of-law framework and in full compliance with human rights.