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On the occasion of the recent acts of terrorism

On the occasion of the recent acts of terrorism, the International Association for the Protection of Human Rights in Cyprus would like to draw attention to the following:

Acts of terrorism are condemned and measures should undoubtedly be taken by governments in order to combat terrorism effectively.

There are circumstances under which the police would have no option but shooting a suspect for terrorist acts. However, a general policy of shooting suspects on the head could not be justified by the principles laid out by the European Court of Human Rights. Otherwise, the core of the right to life, the most fundamental human right, would be rendered meaningless. Any exceptions to the right to life should thus be narrowly and strictly construed.

The foremost criterion, according to the case – law of the European Court of Human Rights shall be the proportionality of the force used to the achievement of the aims. The Court will consider, however, not only the actions of the agents of the state who actually administer the force, but all the surrounding circumstances, including such matters as the planning and control of the actions under examination. In particular, the Court will consider whether the security forces’ operation has been planned and conducted in such a way as to avoid or minimize to the greatest possible extent any risk to the lives of people and possible recourse to lethal force.

It is therefore submitted that any general legal prohibition of arbitrary killing by the agents of the State would be ineffective in practice, if State officials were allowed to kill any person, simply due to the fact that they considered them to be suspects.

In the light of the above, the International Association for the Protection of Human Rights in Cyprus notes that the recent statements by officials of the Scotland Yard, according to which ‘any suspects for terrorist acts’ shall be ‘shot on the head’ are not in line with the provisions of article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, regarding the obligations of member states to refrain, through their agents, from deliberate unjustified killing.

Written by Administrator of humanrights.org    
Friday, 31 March 2006

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