The director of Support for Victims of Terrorism: “Spain has an exemplary model of support and solidarity in which memory occupies a prominent place”

FOTO ©MIGUEL BERROCAL

The General Director of Support for Victims of Terrorism of the Ministry of the Interior, Montserrat Torija, attended the High-Level International Conference on Human Rights, Civil Society and the Fight against Terrorism, organised by the UN and the Government of Spain in Malaga, presenting the Spanish system for assistance to victims of terrorist violence, which she defined as “comprehensive” because it encompasses economic reparation, health and psychosocial, labour, moral and memory care.

Torija has been one of the moderators of Panel III of the conference, dedicated to ‘Victims and survivors of terrorism’, in which she has recalled that the Spanish system is born from the victims themselves, that they created specific associations in defence of their rights and that after decades of joint work with civil society and public institutions, the current formula was born, “today an exemplary model of support and solidarity”.

This is, explained the director general, a specific system for victims of terrorism, “because the Spanish legislator understands that the terrorist crime has a differentiated nature, to the extent that the objective of the terrorists is society in its set”.

Regarding the creation of the institutional mechanism for assistance and support for victims of terrorism, Torija highlighted two milestones: the creation in 2006 of the General Directorate for Support for Victims of Terrorism in the Ministry of the Interior, which she now heads, and the approval in 2011 of the current Law for the Recognition and Comprehensive Protection of Victims of Terrorism, a “pioneer, consensus, international standard, inspired by the principles of memory, dignity, justice and truth”.

To conclude, Torija has defended that the vindication of the memory of the victims occupies a prominent place in this system, “since it is our best guarantee to counteract the terrorist narrative and to prevent the scourge of terrorism from being repeated”, and has recalled that on June 1 of last year the Memorial Centre for the Victims of Terrorism was inaugurated, a museum, educational, research and dissemination project that is a space for recognising all the victims of all terrorism.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

The director of the Intelligence Centre against Terrorism and Organised Crime (CITCO) of the Ministry of the Interior, Manuel Navarrete, also spoke at the conference and defended that any anti-terrorist strategy “must be complemented with full respect of human rights, international refugee rights and international humanitarian law”.

Navarrete participated in the panel dedicated to the ‘Protection of humanitarian action based on principles’, where he explained that all agents involved in the fight against terrorism (judges, prosecutors, lawyers, law enforcement, prison staff…) must be “trained and in full knowledge of the international regulatory framework on human rights and the prevention of terrorism in order to apply it efficiently”, the only way to guarantee “full respect for individual rights and freedoms for which we fight as societies of democratic states”.

The director of CITCO defended that centres such as the one he directs “play an essential role in the field of coordination and also help ensure that all their activities are always carried out in compliance with the corresponding regulatory framework, data protection laws and, of course, the rights of all citizens.

Navarrete added that, since terrorism is already global and transnational, the response must be comprehensive, national and international in scope, so “international coordination is essential in all areas (political, regulatory, police, intelligence, social, media, cyberspace, educational, etc.)”.