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US, EU emphasize human rights in counter-terrorism efforts

A joint statement [text] issued by the US and EU on Thursday emphasized the need to respect international human rights and religious freedom in counter-terrorism efforts. The EU-US 2010 Declaration on Counter-Terrorism was adopted by the Council of the European Union [official website] and US representatives in Luxembourg. The declaration affirms the commitment of the US and EU governments to combat what was described as criminal and unjustifiable terrorist activity while respecting human rights law and religious freedom and expression. The declaration also calls on states to refrain from the use of racial or religious profiling and to abide by domestic constitutional law. Spanish Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba [official website], whose country holds the EU's rotating presidency, described the declaration as a message to the Islamic world [AFP report] and as establishing a unified US-EU terrorism strategy. Shortly after, the US State Department [official website] issued a statement [text] echoing these sentiments. The declaration comes a day in advance of an EU-Pakistan summit [RFERL report], which will be attended by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani [BBC profile].

The US and European countries have faced criticism for their counter-terrorism policies. Earlier this week, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] called [JURIST report] on the administration of US President Barack Obama to stop shielding officials from the administration of former president George W. Bush [official profile] from civil suit and criminal prosecution in relation to the treatment of suspected terrorists in US custody. The organization warned that to do otherwise would only further impunity and cause "irreparable damage to the rule of law," imploring the US Department of Justice [official website] to expand the scope of its criminal investigation into the alleged mistreatment of detainees. In May, UK Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Secretary William Hague [official profile] said that the UK will launch an investigation [JURIST report] into allegations that overseas UK operatives were complicit in torture. Hague stated that the new coalition government will initiate a judge-led inquiry into the allegations, but no details were outlined in the legislative program [text, PDF] published by Prime Minister David Cameron [official profile]. At least 12 men have filed lawsuits against the UK claiming the government knew or should have known about the torture the men experienced overseas.

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