Owen Bonnici opens plenary meeting on counterterrorism

Justice Minister Owen Bonnici praises the work of the International Institute for Justice and looks forward to new developments

Staff Reporter
13 April 2015, 12:34pm
At the opening speech for the plenary meeting of the Global Counterterrorism Forum’s Criminal Justice’s (GCTF) Rule of Law Working Group in Valletta, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici pointed out that in less than a year, the International Institute for Justice (IIJ) had held more than a dozen international workshops with over 300 criminal justice practitioners from more than 30 countries.

“The meetings discussed critical emerging topics as diverse as kidnapping for ransom, foreign terrorist fighters, international cooperation, and maintaining a rule of law culture while still combating terrorism. The IIJ’s approach fits well with the GCTF practitioner-oriented framework,” Bonnici pointed out.

He said that the IIJ would be holding a programme on the work of parliamentarians in countering terrorism during coming months.

“This is a topic close to my heart, as I am both the Minister of Justice and an elected member of the Maltese Parliament and I believe that it could be helpful for the GCTF to consider developing good practices for parliamentarians in countering terrorism.”

He added that such a document could mirror the important work the GCTF had done in developing good practices for investigators, prosecutors, and judges and that the IIJ was an ideal partner to help support such an effort.

Bonnici praised the efforts of the GCTF to prevent and combat terrorism while protecting human rights and said they were a critical component of the international response to terrorism.  

“In particular, your work on developing, refining, and disseminating the tools contained in the GCTF Good Practices memoranda, such as the Rabat Memorandum on Good Practices for Effective Counterterrorism Practice in the Criminal Justice Sector is vital.”

Bonnici said that combined with the instruments of the United Nations and other international legal instruments, the good practices reinforce the shared international commitment to the rule of law.

“Your approach rightly highlights the central role the criminal justice system must play in this international effort.”

“Ten months ago, I provided opening remarks here in this room for the IIJ at its very first programme, and it is remarkable to see how the IIJ has developed from being a vision to being a fully operational training institution,” he added.

Bonnici explained that Malta could serve as the natural bridge in the region, both as a member of the European Union and a nation firmly part of the Mediterranean region.

“We directly experience firsthand the effects and implications of changes in the region, and we therefore strongly support the long-term growth that we all know requires peace and stability.”

Referring to an attack on innocent tourists in Tunis in the Bardo Museum Bonnici pointed out that these remain dangerous times.

Bonnici said that the GCTF’s holistic good practices approach had also been the road that we have taken here in Malta.

“Malta recently amended its Criminal Code by Act VIII of 2015, which establishes as serious criminal offences the travel or attempting to travel for the purpose of the perpetration, planning, or preparation of, or participation in terrorist acts and the providing or receiving of terrorist training; and financing of such travel or other acts of recruitment and dissemination of terrorist publications.”

“Last month, Parliament also approved Act III of 2015, which further strengthened the existing offences related to terrorism and broadened the scope of the existing provisions not merely to acts of terrorism but also to activities that are linked, directly or indirectly, to acts preparatory or conducive to terrorism offences,” he added.

Bonnici added that the GCTF provides much more than good practices on legislation.

“This working group in particular has been critical in identifying capacity development needs and making sure those needs are met,” he concluded.