CCT in Brussels lightCommittee Chair Makis Voridis, seated next to Liaison Officer and Advisor Marco Bonabello, opens a meeting of the CCT in Brussels, 8 Feb. 2017BRUSSELS, 8 February 2018 – A delegation of seven parliamentarians led by Makis Voridis (MP, Greece) is in Brussels to learn from the Belgian experience in countering terrorism and to foster exchanges of best practices in this complex area.

Members of the OSCE PA Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism (CCT) are meeting with a number of Belgian officials and counter-terrorism bodies to discuss the most pressing challenges stemming from terrorism and violent extremism. The visit, taking place 8-9 February, has also offered the opportunity to highlight the important contributions of the OSCE in countering terrorism.

On the first day of the visit CCT members held meetings with the Minister of Justice, Koen Geens; Deputy Head of the General Intelligence and Security Service, Colonel Frank Claeys; Belgian Federal Prosecutor, Frédéric Van Leeuw; Director of the Belgian Coordination Unit, Paul Van Tigheltl; Director of Analysis at the Belgian State Security Service, Peter Lanssens; President of the Parliamentary Committee for the Investigation of the Terrorist Attacks of 22nd March, 2016, Patrick Dewael; as well as Principal Adviser of the EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator, Christiane Hoehn.

In meetings, Chair Voridis has highlighted that parliamentarians must remain united against terrorism and strive to add value in this domain.

“Parliamentarians play a key role in countering terrorism by developing innovative and effective laws in line with human rights standards, as well as by ensuring oversight of security services,” Voridis said. “We aim to promote dialogue between governments, local communities and civil society, and can assist governments by mobilizing resources and building political support for counter-terrorism strategies.”

Committee members commended Belgium’s comprehensive counter-terrorism efforts noting that it has managed to successfully enact security measures while maintaining respect for pluralism and human rights. They repeatedly emphasized the need to strike a delicate balance between security and privacy when developing counter-terrorism strategies and emergency responses.

The sides agreed that counter-terrorism efforts require a holistic and innovative approach, while the proactive exchange of lessons learned allows to further international co-operation and promote more effective joint responses.

Minister of Justice Geens noted that law enforcement and security services need effective investigative powers, which should be applied in full respect of fundamental freedoms. He added that timely exchange of information and efficient co-ordination among security providers are also paramount in the fight against terrorism.

The visit has also enabled parliamentarians to learn more about Belgium’s response to the terrorist attacks of 22 March 2016.

Belgian parliamentarian and CCT Vice-Chair Stéphane Crusnière noted that the lessons learned from the tragic events of March 2016 could serve to save lives in the future. “We must boost international cooperation at all levels if we are to prevent future tragedies from taking place,” Crusnière said. “And we should never forget the innocent victims of these senseless acts of violence and take all appropriate steps to safeguard their rights.”

On Friday, the CCT plans to hold a number of important meetings including with the Mayor of Vilvoorde Hans Bonte; and the Office of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation aimed at discussing issues of de-radicalization. This will allow Committee members to learn about local efforts and mechanisms to best support young people vulnerable to radicalization and re-integration of foreign terrorist fighters.

The next official meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism will take place in Vienna, Austria, on 22 February 2018 at the margins of the OSCE PA Winter Meeting.

For background on the OSCE PA’s counter-terrorism work, please click here.