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Fighting terrorism – European and American approach

On Wednesday, the Financial Times published an interesting article by Professor Jack L. Goldsmith on the seeming convergence between Europeans’ and Americans’ approach to fight terrorism. Another sign which might point in this very direction is the recent agreement reached between the European Union and the United States on the sharing of passenger flight data.

According to Goldsmith, there are several indications that Europe is getting grim on the methods to counter global terrorism: the recent discussion in Germany on using targeted killings, combatant detentions and aggressive computer surveillance (in part merely proposals by the German interior minister Wolfgang Schäuble: Article 1, Article 2, Article 3), the British governments suggestion to increase the time for detaining suspected terrorists without charge, and the possibility in Spain and France of pre-trial detention of up to four years for terror suspects.

On the other hand, Goldsmith notices the fact that the US has somewhat softened its approach on methods to fight terrorism. As examples he mentions the altered procedure for determining who is an enemy combatant, which now is subject to judicial review by civilian courts, and the extended judicial rights of alleged terrorists.

It remains to be seen, however, if Europe and the USA will ultimately agree upon altering the public international law instruments available to fight international terrorism, most prominently the Geneva Conventions. After all, both sides agree upon that terrorism can be battled against efficiently only in a global perspective.

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