European officials sign Riga Protocol on foreign terrorist fighters

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Riga, October 23, AZERTAC.

Officials representing 17 member states of the Council of Europe, as well as the European Union, gathered in the Latvian capital on October 22 to sign the additional protocol for the prevention of terrorism.

The document, known as the Riga Protocol, is intended to prevent and restrict preparation for acts of terror, which also includes preventing "foreign terrorist fighters" from traveling to countries such as Syria and Iraq. This would mean criminalizing "traveling abroad for the purpose of terrorism", "receiving training for terrorism" and "organizing or otherwise facilitating travelling abroad for the purpose of terrorism."

The conference was attended by employees of the Embassy of Azerbaijan in Latvia and a representative of Azerbaijan`s Foreign Ministry. Azerbaijan joined the ceremony of the signing as an observer.

Other members of the Council of Europe are expected to join the protocol in the near future.

The protocol is aimed at harmonizing member states' anti-terrorism legislation and ensuring a more effective crackdown on foreign terrorist fighters.

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland said at the signing ceremony that for the first time in history a legal document had been drawn up to criminalize activities that can result in acts of terrorism. Jagland described the protocol as an essential link that had been missing until now.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics noted that Europe was the first region in the world to draw up regional legislation to enforce the United Nations Security Council's resolution on foreign terrorist fighters.

"By contributing to the drafting of the additional protocol to the Council of Europe convention on the prevention of terrorism and organizing the signing ceremony in Riga, Latvia has asserted its commitment to joining the fight against terrorism across the world," the Latvian minister said.

Bosnia and Herzegovina's Igor Crndak, as chair of the committee of ministers of the Council of Europe, indicated that the additional protocol on foreign terrorist fighters would be another effective tool to help member states prevent extremism and radicalization, especially among young people.

The Council of Europe adopted a Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism in 1977 (updated in 2003) and a Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism and a Convention on the Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism in 2005. Combatting terrorism has therefore long been one of its priorities.

Nigar Jafarli

Special correspondent

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