The Criminal Justice Response to Support Victims of Acts of Terrorism, revised edition, UNODC (2012)

The Criminal Justice Response to Support Victims of Acts of Terrorism, revised edition, UNODC (2012)

This publication is intended for use as part of UNODC’s capacity-building activities in the fields of criminal justice related to terrorism and counter-terrorism and human rights. Its purpose is to aid requesting Member States in the development and implementation of programmes of assistance and support for victims of acts of terrorism at the national level.

Victims have long played a secondary, and mostly silent, role in criminal trials. UNODC recognizes the call of the General Assembly as underscoring the importance of the victim in criminal proceedings and the relevance of developing comprehensive programmes that effectively provide adequate treatment to victims of acts of terrorism. Effective criminal prosecution of alleged perpetrators is a crucial factor in reducing the perception of victimization and of impunity for terrorist acts. Granting victims equal and effective access to justice is also essential. In order to further integrate the perspective of victims into UNODC’s capacity-building activities addressing the criminal justice aspects of countering terrorism, the role of victims and their surviving family members in criminal proceedings needs to be emphasized.

Recognition of, and support to, victims is a key-component of a successful rule of law-based criminal justice response to acts of terrorism.

The effects of acts of terrorism extend beyond the immediate impact on the direct victims, as these acts indiscriminately target civilian populations or persons, regardlessof their status or function, or public institutions, thereby affecting, more broadly, the society as a whole. It is with this perspective of protection of society that the criminal sanction is established. However, the criminal punishment of perpetrators is not enough. As with many criminal offenses, reparation should also be offered to victims. Especially within the framework of the fight against terrorism, the victims must not be forgotten,
or regarded as collateral damage. Victims of acts of terrorism are victims of an offense that targets one or more States or one or more international organizations and attacks the highest interests of a State or the international community. It is absolutely essential to identify the rights and needs of victims of acts of terrorism, to support them and to provide reparation for the damage they have suffered and, in doing so, to grant them a central role in the criminal proceedings.

This publication endeavours to emphasize at the forefront victim-related aspects of the criminal justice response to terrorism, as well as to provide examples of national legislation and practices in the area.

TopicVictims of terrorism


Themes: Victims of terrorism