News / Middle East

UN Expert Calls for Compensation for Victims of Terrorism

Afghan men stand over the bodies of a suicide bomb blast victims at a hospital in Khost province, June 20, 2012.
Afghan men stand over the bodies of a suicide bomb blast victims at a hospital in Khost province, June 20, 2012.
Lisa Schlein
GENEVA - The Special U.N. Investigator on Terrorism is calling for an international legally binding instrument to provide compensation, reparation, and support to all victims of terrorism. The investigator says terrorists cannot compensate for the massive damage they cause, so it is up to world governments to right a wrong and pay up.
 
Since Saturday, Special U.N. Investigator on Terrorism Ben Emmerson reports 125 people have been killed and 334 have been seriously wounded in 14 terrorist attacks around the world, including Pakistan, Iraq, northern Nigeria, and Yemen.

He says to most of the world, these deaths are just statistics and very little, or nothing at all, is known about the human tragedies that lie behind them.
 
Despite the brutal physical and psychological consequences of terrorist attacks on the victims and their families, he says little is being done to compensate them. He says this is unjust and must not continue.

Emmerson says he has received wide support from organizations representing victims of terrorism around the world for his proposals to compensate the victims for their loss and suffering.
 
He says none of these people are calling for revenge. They are calling for justice. He says they are not calling for more torture or for more human-rights abuse in countering terrorism.    

“The victims are saying that is not being done in their name, do not use their names as a justification," said Emmerson. "What they are asking for is a normative framework.  And, the aim of this report is to nail the lie that the way to protect victims is to abuse the human rights of those suspected of involvement in terrorism. That is not what they are calling for.  It is quite the reverse of what they are calling for. And, it is a strange world where government officials are prepared to stand up and say we are torturing on behalf of the victims, but we are not prepared to pay them compensation.” 

Emmerson says the Council of Europe, as well as many countries and non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International, support his efforts to secure the human rights of victims of terrorism.
 
A report Emmerson presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council says countries should conduct their own counter-terrorism operations consistent with international human-rights law.  

But the counter-terrorism investigator says Syria overlooked this statement and cited selectively from the report to justify its military actions against those it identifies as terrorists operating within its territory.

“I reminded Syria that there was no warrant for the misuse of the victims of terrorism and their human rights as a justification for widespread and systematic violation of the rights of civilians and non-combatants as a response," he said. "I invited States, in the course of my presentation, to recognize that all acts of terrorism amount to serious and gross human-rights violations.”  

The U.N. anti-terrorism chief says victims of terrorism are unwilling collateral damage and nations need to do the right thing for them. He says they are victims of gross human-rights violations and the international community should stand behind them.

Emmerson says it is important governments voluntarily accept a new international obligation to compensate all victims of terrorism, regardless of who is behind these crimes. He says a number of countries already are doing this, including the United States, which voluntarily established funds to ensure compensation for victims of 9/11.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs