Media Center

Press Release


  June 22, 2009

The French investigative magistrate in charge of the counter-terrorism section of the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Paris, Jean-Louis Bruguière, called upon all governments in the Americas to fight terrorism with the strength of democratic values and without overstepping the rule of law.

“Let’s be loyal to our values, which are our best weapon to fight terrorism,” said Judge Bruguière, who is also an expert on terrorism at the Council of Europe, the European Commission and the United Nations (UNODC).

The Judge was the keynote speaker at the XXXVI Lecture of the Americas, held at the Hall of the Americas, at the Headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, DC. The event, which was open to the public, was chaired by the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, and was attended by several permanent representatives to the hemispheric organization.

In his speech titled “The Fight against Terrorism and the Promotion of Democratic Values”, the magistrate insisted on the need to fight terrorism with strength but “not with the same weapons as our adversary.” Stepping out of the democratic and legal path is not only “punishable”, he said, but, according to some examples in the world, also “inefficient in the long term.”

Respecting legality, however, does not mean that democratic societies should be weak. For democratic governments, fighting terrorism has become “a must”, because since the attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, the issue “invades the entire political stage.”

“Fighting terrorism is a battle that requires political courage,” said Judge Bruguière. He also said that governments should have the ability to “prevent” and “analyze” terrorist threats, and at the same time should be ready “to respond” in a firm and appropriate way when necessary and possible.

Furthermore, Judge Bruguière called the attention of all democratic governments to the need for cooperation among countries and continents, because “the transnational dimension of terrorism requires an answer that cannot be national.”

The French magistrate, who during his career took part in several investigations related to radical Islamism, particularly Al-Qaeda, and who led investigations on separatist organizations such as the Irish Republican Army (IRA), said that “terrorism is always worrying”, and mentioned the currently tense situation in countries such as Somalia, Pakistan, Afghanistan or Yemen.

Regarding the Americas, Judge Bruguière emphasized that international terrorism has been so far almost exclusively present in the United States, although he mentioned certain attacks in Latin America such as those in Argentina against the Embassy of Israel and the Argentinean Israelite Mutual Association (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA)). He said the continent suffers “other forms of terrorism”, especially those related to organized crime, which shows the continent is not safe from this threat, and therefore called all governments to collaborate in the global fight against terrorism

Reference: E-203/09