Human Rights in the Criminal Code? A Critique of the Curious Implementation of the EU and Council of Europe Instruments on Combating and Preventing Terrorism in Belgian Criminal Legislation

In: European Journal of Crime, Criminal Law and Criminal Justice
Steven Dewulf Faculty of Law, University of Antwerp, Antwerp, Belgium
Faculty of Law, Catholic University of Leuven, Leuven, Belgium,

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Different international instruments on the prevention and suppression of terrorism from the European Union and the Council of Europe task States with adopting new terrorist offences. At the same time, several provisions in these international instruments remind States of their obligation to fully adhere to their human rights obligations when implementing, interpreting and applying these new offences. Following these provisions, Belgium decided to insert a rather curious human rights clause in its Criminal Code. This article will critically examine this peculiar clause and the decision(s) made by the Belgian legislator. The key question is whether or not States should indeed also implement such human rights provisions in their criminal legislation, and if so, in what way they should best proceed. It will be argued that inserting such a specific human rights clause for one particular offence in a domestic criminal code might not only be superfluous, but could even have unforeseen, unwanted and hazardous effects.

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