The Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) Rabat Memorandum on Good Practices for Effective Counterterrorism Practice in the Criminal Justice Sector elaborates guidance on 15 good practices that promote rule of law–based criminal justice responses to terrorism. The GCTF encourages all countries to consider the memorandum as a source of guidance, and its members and partners have been working bilaterally and multilaterally to promote its implementation in national and regional contexts. In support of these efforts, the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Counterterrorism commissioned the Global Center to undertake a stocktaking of national efforts to implement rule of law–based criminal justice measures to counter terrorism in select of countries in Africa, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia. This report presents the core findings of the stocktaking project. It highlights trends, challenges, and opportunities for implementing the good practices of the memorandum and for leveraging these practices to more effectively counter terrorism while promoting and protecting human rights.
As noted in the introduction of the memorandum, compliance with international law and human rights standards in national criminal justice responses to terrorism is not isolated to the mere existence of certain legal tools or to the skills of specialized practitioners alone. Rather, the memorandum recognizes that “states should in the first instance have a modern, fair and efficient criminal justice system that forms the basis for a robust criminal justice response to terrorism.” Although the Global Center report highlights examples of a wide range of good practices being implemented in national jurisdictions, it calls attention to diverse legal and institutional, organizational, and operational challenges that seriously undermine rule of law–based criminal justice across all countries examined. As stated in the memorandum, criminal justice efforts to counter terrorism “must be built on a functional criminal justice system that is capable of handling ordinary criminal offenses while protecting the human rights of the accused.” The findings suggest that core criminal justice sector development efforts are essential for strengthening national implementation of rule of law–based criminal justice practices to counter terrorism. The report concludes with a series of cross-cutting recommendations to support the ongoing efforts of the GCTF Criminal Justice Sector and Rule of Law Working Group.