Opening Remarks by Ambassador Masood Khan, Permanent Representative of Pakistan, during the event on ‘criminal justice systems-counter-terrorism capacity building’ on 10 June 2014

Excellences, Ladies, and Gentlemen,

Let me start by welcoming H.E. Mr. Jan Elliason, the Deputy Secretary General of the United Nations, who has been a leader in the fields of the rule of law and counter-terrorism. We owe much of the agreed lexicon on counter-terrorism to his ardent advocacy and untiring efforts.

I thank for the hard work done by Mr. Jean Paul Laborde, Executive Director CTED, and Mr. Jehangir Khan, Director CTITF, to organize this event.

I am grateful to Ambassador Halit Chevik of Turkey and Ambassador Geir Pedersen of Norway for agreeing to kick off the discussion of the two panels.

Terrorism is not an abstract phenomenon. It is a scourge that hits us every day. It is truly an existential threat. All around the world, we witness the catastrophic consequences and costs of terrorism. For the past two days, Pakistan has been in the grip of a battle against the fury and cowardice of terrorists.

As our security interests are interlinked, so should our counterterrorism strategies and efforts. To achieve this objective, we need concerted and coordinated international action. Our success depends on our will to work as partners within nations and as community of nations.

The purpose of today's event is to cement the complementarily between counterterrorism and criminal justice and explore ways to enhance capacities to counter terrorism with the active participation of criminal justice system. The overarching objective is to uphold the rule of law by learning from best practices, update and streamline criminal procedures, and prepare legally sound cases that would help convict terrorists.

Developed and developing countries need capacity building; developing countries more so. Terrorists are much more sophisticated, agile, well-equipped and lethal than ever before. The administrative machineries and the criminal justice systems needs specialized legal, prosecutorial, and investigative skills to deal with this monster. In this effort, we need a revamped criminal justice framework, new tools and a bigger tool kit, that would serve as a collective blueprint for coordinated action.

Let me address some issues upfront.

Some conservatives believe that criminal justice is not a counterterrorism tool. They would argue that terrorism is just like another criminal matter where courts get involved after the crimes. The courts have, they would say, no means to deter or prevent future attacks. Nor do they have the services of intelligence agencies, which are so critical for countering terrorism. They believe that counterterrorism is the responsibility of the security forces and the administrative arms of the government. Some would go a step further and say that terrorism is an act of war and should therefore best left to the national armed forces.

The prevalent view, however, is there is a strong nexus between counterterrorism, which includes intelligence and military operations, and the criminal justice system. Post-2001, the criminal justice systems have proved to be an important instrument in collating intelligence about terrorists and in impairing and neutralizing their networks. This is supported by empirical evidence across the world.

The counter-terrorism capacity building in the field of criminal justice systems needs more attention because of the following five reasons: coordination; introduction of new criminal procedures; use of modern communication technology by terrorists, legality of evidence; and security of information, witnesses, and judges.

First, the capacity to enhance inter-agency coordination among law enforcement institutions is vital to ensuring effective investigation, preservation of evidence, apprehension of suspects, confiscation of assets of terrorists and successful prosecution of terrorist offenses. States must have focal points at the national level in the field of counter terrorism. Most importantly, we need to build trust between criminal justice sector agencies within a country and within a region. More than ever before, we need a consolidated Counterterrorism pod that would integrate intelligence officer, analysts, investigators and prosecutors.

Second, states need to ensure that procedures like checking criminal suspects against watch lists, the utilization of pre-drafted questionnaire for investigation, the use of data bases and terrorist alerts are in place. They need to review and revise compartmentalization of their law enforcement entities. Apprehensions about the risk of divulging sensitive and classified information must be assuaged.

Third, the evolution in tactics of terrorists has necessitated changes in the way investigation is conducted, prosecutorial departments are organized and the courts process the evidence and deliver judgments. Frequent use of communication technologies by terrorists has made it difficult to maintain the balance between legality of evidence collection and higher conviction rate of terrorists. States need to train investigators to track such communication-technology-related crimes much more effectively. Prosecutors and judges need to be trained more thoroughly, respectively, to use evidence collected from the internet activity and to evaluate the evidence submitted in the courts.

Fourth, investigators have to take all the precautions to ensure that they present convincing evidence collected in a legal manner. Religious or racial profiling should be avoided. In order to enhance conviction rate, evidence collection, interrogation techniques, and circumstances of detention must be legally tenable. The entire process should meet the high standards of legitimacy and humaneness. Incidentally, this also helps quash negative terrorist narratives. The procedural safeguards like explaining the reasons for detention, judicial supervision, presumption of innocence, and the right to fair trial and effective remedy might seem difficult conditions to meet in short term but these provide the necessary foundation for a legal approach to counter terrorism. It is important for legislative and judicial systems at the national level to determine the status of special investigative techniques such as interception, electronic surveillance, covert computer searches, and undercover agents in terrorist trials. Traditional methods of tracking, preventing and disrupting terrorist groups, however, might not be very useful in the case of ‘lone actors’.

Fifth, I n the adjudication of terrorist offenses, challenges include classified nature of evidence and arguments, security of witnesses and juries, and limited contacts between the attorney and the clients. The flexibility in procedures in such cases without influencing the basic human rights and principles of justice is vital. We need to share information and analysis about how different jurisdictions and legal systems are coping with these challenges.

As I said in the beginning, developing and developed countries both to build capacities of their criminal justice systems and entities. Developed countries must hone their skills to strike a balance between effective provision of security to their citizens and respect for the basic principle of rule of law and justice. Developing countries in many cases have to invest heavily to create a basic organizational set up and a cadre of trained professionals with the requisite technical and operational skills. This is necessary to undertake sweeping reforms which cannot wait because of the urgency to respond to the ever evolving threat of terrorism.

Our experience of the CTED’s regional workshops of prosecutors, policemen, and judges in South Asia has been positive. The eighth regional workshop of South Asian policemen, judges, and prosecutors was held in Islamabad in October 2013. It is one way to share experiences and good practices and identify shortfalls and priorities in criminal justice related entities. We hope that the same experience can be emulated in other regions.

The United Nations is bringing the criminal justices systems out of the silos into the open space and integrating them into the UN-led global counterterrorism strategy. We need greater international cooperation among various formal and informal networks. This is so valuable. At the same time, the UN bodies need to avoid unnecessary duplication in technical assistance activities.

Criminal justice is the fourth pillar of the UN Counter-terrorism Strategy. We must continue to strengthen this pillar to support effective and law-based national, criminal justice systems to bring terrorists to justice.

We are looking forward today to interesting panel discussions on these issues.

Thank you.