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Law offers a shield to victims of terrorism

The experience of living through a terrorist attack as a victim or family member of one of them damages physical and mental integrity. Legal counsel is a fundamental support to go through the process, obtain protection and make possible the manifestation of justice. Undoubtedly, determining responsibility and accountability is the most effective tool to fight against the impunity of terrorist acts.

Making visible the role of those who suffer these attacks on freedomThe right to life and diversity is fundamental to grant them equal access to justice and therefore, an action to stop the advance of terrorism in the world.

Previously, the victims of these actions were brought before the courts. only as witnesses in criminal proceedings. However, since 1970 this condition has been modified and steps have been taken to turn them into protagonists.

The United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy unanimously approved in 2006-after world leaders condemned terrorism in all its forms-established the rule of law as the basis for the fight against terrorism. It also recognized the need to promote and protect the rights of victims by creating efficient justice mechanisms to provide them with the legal support required in such circumstances.

Even the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime published in 2012 the handbook "The criminal justice response in support of victims of acts of terrorism".The aim is to enhance the role of victims and their families in criminal proceedings by enforcing the law.

In the aforementioned manual it is emphasized that the effects of terrorist acts go beyond the immediate impact caused to a direct victimbecause they affect populations without distinction of social class, conditions or status. Therefore, the criminal sanction should be set for the protection of society as a whole and include compensation for victims and their families.

Standardization of criteria for the treatment of these cases and redress for them is still a work in progress. At present, these instruments require that each State criminalize certain acts and make use of universal jurisdiction.

Actions for prevention

The figure of international or universal jurisdiction is formally defined as "a legal principle that allows or requires a State to criminally prosecute certain crimes, regardless of the place where they were committed and regardless of the nationality of the perpetrator and the victim"as explained in the publication: The Principles of Universal Jurisdiction and Complementarity of the international journal Review of the Red Cross. This principle of law was established in the four Geneva Conventions of 1949.

Legal proceedings involving universal jurisdiction cases tend to be slow and complicated. Because they have a different dynamic to that established in other litigations. In general, there are several parties involved, countless affected parties and, to top it off, political and economic interests that try not to be impacted by the actions.

Lawyers' initiative on behalf of victims of terrorism

Following the terrorist attack that occurred last August 2017 in Barcelona.The Spanish Bar Associations expressed their solidarity with the victims and categorically rejected these actions.

The proposal of the majority of these law trade organizations proposes to set up a Legal Orientation Service for victims in order to offer legal services and legal support to victims in this process.

In the handbook "The Criminal Justice Response in Support of Victims of Acts of Terrorism". The report notes that governments around the world have made efforts to protect the rights of the victims of these crimes and to ensure due access to the law for those going through these experiences.

At Alan Aldana & Abogados, we support the promotion of universal justice through the promotion ofome as a mechanism to prevent crimes against humanity, aware that guaranteeing the rule of law is the strongest step in the battle against terrorism.

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