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Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson: It is important to strike a balance between the rights of an individual and measures to counter serious crime

Ministry of Justice
Publication date 24.2.2015 11.51
Press release

- Serious threat of terrorist offences shall be countered with necessary, appropriate and proportional means. However, it’s crucial to carry out this work with full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and the rule of law. This requires balancing between measures countering serious criminality and rights of an individual, said Minister of Justice Anna-Maja Henriksson while talking at the ongoing Global Law Summit conference in London.

- However, also victims have the right to be protected from violence. It must be realised that terrorism aims at the destruction of democracy. Therefore, countering terrorism is always putting together diverging interests, Henriksson emphasised.

The Global Law Summit is part of the 800th anniversary celebration of the sealing of Magna Carta in 1215 by the King of England. Henriksson participated in a panel of Justice Ministers that discussed the challenges of countering terrorism while preserving human and fundamental rights.

Magna Carta strengthened legal protection against arbitrary administration of justice and especially against arbitrary detention. This also served as the underlying theme of the panel discussion.

In countering the serious threat terrorism represents, it is sometimes easy to understate human right aspects. In terrorism declarations and resolutions, human rights are usually mentioned at very general level. This kind of an approach is understandable in the purpose of getting things done, but it also leaves to States a great responsibility in the implementation of international obligations, Henriksson stated.

For example, using special procedures and special courts may, according to Henriksson, have a damaging effect on due process rights. Special arrangements are usually connected with narrowing of human rights.

- The context of human rights and fundamental freedoms also includes universal values and legal guarantees created by international treaties and customary international law. Right to life, prohibition against torture, the principle of non-discrimination, freedom of expression and freedom of association - these values must also be taken into account in countering terrorism.

- States may legitimately limit the exercise of certain rights, but only as provided for by international human rights conventions. In a democratic society, these limitations must always be based on law and have a legitimate purpose, for example crime prevention or protection of another human right. Respecting human rights is also respecting their limitations, Henriksson emphasised.

Further information: Otto Andersson, Special Adviser to the Minister, tel. 02951 50255

Global Law Summit website -

Anna-Maja Henriksson
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