The Cairo Declaration on Counterterrorism and the Rule of Law (September 22, 2011) calls for members of the Global Counterterrorism Forum (GCTF) to “develop good practices for an effective and rule of law-based criminal justice sector response to terrorism.” In July 2012, Spain hosted a high-level conference on victims of terrorism under the auspices of the GCTF Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Working Group. At this meeting, member states recognized the need to collaborate on developing a document outlining good practices for assisting terrorism victims. In addition, the Government of Spain circulated a draft document, “Madrid Memorandum on Good Practices for Assistance to Victims of Terrorism Immediately after the Attack and in Criminal Proceedings.” On November 7, 2012, experts from GCTF members met to discuss and refine this document. Consistent with the Cairo Declaration, all States are encouraged to consider using these non-binding good practices, while recognizing that implementation of these practices must be consistent with applicable international law, as well as national law and regulations, taking into account the varied histories, cultures, and legal systems among States. States may also wish to take note of relevant international and regional instruments, UN General Assembly resolutions, and UN reports.1 States are also encouraged, but not obligated, to share their experiences with the following practices with the CVE Working Group.
A terrorist attack is traumatic for a wide range of individuals and institutions, but it most directly affects the victims and their families. How well the victims’ physical and emotional needs are met can have a significant impact on how well the victims are able to cope with the trauma. Prompt and efficient assistance and support to terrorism victims from the moment of the attack through normalization and beyond can have a positive effect on victims’ mental health and ability to cope. Providing for practical needs in a compassionate way is a tangible expression of the care and concern for citizens who are victims of terrorism. Particular attention should be paid to the needs of children.