Counter-terrorism policy that respects human rights is Europe’s problem too


‘Democratic counter-terrorism policy, with respect for human rights, is not just a US problem, but a problem for Europe as well’, says David P. Forsythe, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and author of new book The Politics of Prisoner Abuse.

Many European allies of the US were complicit in US abuse of security prisoners after 9/11 by hosting secret CIA prisons, facilitating movement of prisoners for abuse or by playing a role in abusive interrogation (posing questions and accepting the results). Moreover, the past European record on such matters has not been exemplary given such histories as the British in Northern Ireland and the French in Algeria, not to mention the British during World War II.

Given the close UK-US ‘special relationship,’ and given tough British interrogation in the past in Northern Ireland, Kenya, Aden, etc., it is in little doubt that Britain played a role in US abusive policies after 9/11.

In the light of these facts, Forsythe calls for all democracies to seriously re-think how to maintain respect for human rights in the face of terrorism – and that very much includes Britain.

***** David P. Forsythe is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and held the Fulbright Distinguished Research Chair of Human Rights and International Studies at the Danish Institute of International Studies, Copenhagen. His latest book, The Politics of Prisoner Abuse: The United States and Enemy Prisoners After 9/11, published 26 May 2011 (Cambridge University Press, £18.99) and is a bold critique of US policies towards terror suspects after 9/11.