Counterterrorism conference in Neuchâtel brings together over 40 states and international organisations

Bern. Neuchâtel is hosting an international counterterrorism conference on 3 and 4 May 2016. The conference, which focuses on criminal justice aspects in particular, brings together representatives of over 40 states, international organisations and other institutions.

The conference is taking place within the framework of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF), which Switzerland co-founded in 2011. The GCTF is composed of 29 countries, including the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. Its main mission is to promote exchanges among experts and to develop standards in the field of counterterrorism and the prevention of violent extremism to support and complement the action taken by the UN in this area.

Within the Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law working group, Switzerland has sought to highlight the importance of respecting children's rights and international juvenile justice standards in the fight against terrorism. Switzerland is particularly interested in minors who have committed terrorist acts and who must be held to account in a manner consistent with their age and level of maturity. With this in mind, in April 2015 Switzerland launched an initiative to promote best practice in juvenile justice in the context of the fight against terrorism.

Children's rights and criminal justice specialists have met twice in recent months, and have submitted a set of draft recommendations to the conference in Neuchâtel. The recommendations focus in particular on the treatment of children in accordance with applicable provisions of international law and juvenile law standards. They aim to encourage states to establish a criminal justice system that is specifically designed for minors and is based on the obligations stipulated by the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The recommendations place particular emphasis on measures to prevent the radicalisation and recruitment of children and to promote rehabilitation and reintegration programmes. The goal is to give priority to educational measures that enable the children concerned to see a future for themselves in society.

Once they are examined and discussed in the Criminal Justice and the Rule of Law working group, the recommendations will be set out in a 'Neuchâtel memorandum on best practice in juvenile justice in the context of the fight against terrorism', which should be adopted at a GCTF ministerial meeting in September this year.

The conference in Neuchâtel is thus making a decisive contribution to addressing the question of young people and terrorism, and redoubles Switzerland's commitment to protecting human rights and preventing violent extremism.

Last modification 03.05.2016

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