The Role of Criminal Law in Combating Terrorism

November 28th, 2023

Criminal law plays a crucial role in combating terrorism by providing a legal framework to investigate, prosecute, and punish individuals involved in terrorist activities. Here are some key points regarding the role of criminal law in combating terrorism:

1. National and International Law: The criminal justice response to terrorism is framed by national law, which must comply with various aspects of international law . States have legal obligations under international human rights, humanitarian, refugee, and customary international law . Additionally, states have treaty-based obligations and legally binding obligations imposed through relevant Security Council resolutions on counter-terrorism .

2. Criminalizing Terrorism: Criminal law allows governments to define and criminalize acts of terrorism, providing a legal basis for prosecuting individuals involved in terrorist activities. For example, Federal Law No. (7) of 2014 in the United Arab Emirates imposes capital punishment for offenses committed for a terrorist purpose.

3. Investigation and Prosecution: Criminal law enables law enforcement agencies to investigate and gather evidence related to terrorist activities. It provides procedures for the arrest, detention, and interrogation of suspects. Prosecutors use criminal law to build cases against individuals involved in terrorism and present evidence in court.

4. Punishment and Deterrence: Criminal law establishes penalties and sanctions for individuals convicted of terrorism offenses. These penalties serve as a deterrent to potential terrorists and provide a sense of justice for victims and society as a whole.

5. International Cooperation: Criminal law facilitates international cooperation in combating terrorism. Countries work together to extradite suspects, share intelligence and evidence, and coordinate efforts to prevent and respond to terrorist acts. Organizations like Eurojust, the European Union Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, play a role in facilitating judicial coordination and cooperation between national authorities in combating terrorism and serious organized crime .

6. Legal Protections: Criminal law ensures that individuals accused of terrorism offenses are afforded due process rights, such as the right to a fair trial, legal representation, and protection against torture or cruel treatment. These protections help maintain the rule of law and uphold human rights standards.