This module is a resource for lecturers

Legal framework

There are two key strands to the legal frameworks governing the rights and treatment of victims of terrorism. One refers to the obligations of States and accompanying rights of victims existing under human rights law for the provision of an effective remedy where any fault on the part of the State may exist, such as a due diligence failure to adequately protect its citizens in response to a known risk; and the other refers to remedies that exist under national and international criminal law, whether based in terrorism specific instruments or more general instruments such as those governing gross human rights violations such as crimes against humanity.

One of the most fundamental issues, which is an overarching theme here, is the different role played by the State. In relation to victims of terrorist attacks, the focus here is on the pursuit of non-State terrorist actors. Though the State can also be pursued for any failings on its part as mentioned previously, it usually plays a bona fide role, e.g., in facilitating access to judicial proceedings for victims to pursue appropriate remedies such as compensation. In addition, or alternatively, it can set up a dedicated partially or fully funded State scheme to support victims of terrorist attacks.

Among the human rights of victims and witnesses at stake are the rights to life, security, physical and mental integrity, respect for private and family life, and protection of dignity and reputation.

The discussion now turns to considering in turn the applicable international and regional human rights and criminal justice frameworks:

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