Human Rights Violations under the Guise of Counter-Terrorism Measures: A Question of Reconciling Security Concerns and Protecting the Fundamental Right to Life
Opoku, Efua Baboa
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Both security and human rights are important to all within the civilized world. Yet there are some serious tensions between the two political norms. For instance, it may not be easy for a state or the international community to reconcile well intentioned acts to maintain security and to preserve human rights. In the recent past, such a difficulty has been played out not only in the events, but also in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States. The result of the attacks, culminating in the massive loss of lives and property, has been in the adoption of various international treaties and domestic laws that have swiftly been enacted and deployed to counter terrorism, and the development of a concept of a state of “urgency” that appears to shadow the obligation to protect fundamental human rights, particularly the right to life under international law. This thesis thus focuses on the promotion and protection of fundamental human rights, particularly, the right to life with the subsequent declaration of the “war on terror” by the United States. The work targets the debate between security and human rights in the light of terrorism post 9/11, highlights the impact of choosing one ideal over another, and eventually rationing out a balance that would serve as a threshold for upholding standards in both security and human rights in the face of terrorism threats. Essentially, however, this thesis is hinged on the argument that to allow the ideal of security which apparently appears advantageous to a “continuing state of urgency” to overwhelmingly influence the implementation of counter-terrorism measures while paying no attention to the fundamental right to life would constitute a paradox in combating terrorism. I posit that the result of the above exercise, if chosen, implies more tragic consequences when implemented than the singular acts of terrorism in themselves.