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Churches condemn terrorism in all its forms

23 February 2006

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The 9th Assembly of the World Council of Churches (WCC) meeting in Porto Alegre, Brazil, has adopted a statement on terrorism, counter-terrorism and human rights and affirmed the role of churches in pursuit of peace.

The statement says, "Violence against unarmed and innocent civilians for political or religious aims by states and non-state actors can never be justified legally, theologically or ethically".

It requests UN member states to agree on a clear definition of "terrorism" and says that terrorist acts and threats as well as organizational support for terror be considered as matters of criminal justice. It urges churches to challenge firmly the concept of “war on terror.”

In its preamble, the statement says, “The violence of terrorism – in all its many forms – is abhorrent to all who believe human life is a gift of God and therefore infinitely precious. Every attempt to intimidate others by inflicting indiscriminate death and injury upon them is to be universally condemned.

"The answer to terrorism, however, cannot be to respond in kind, for this can lead to more violence and more terror. Instead, a concerted effort of all nations is needed to remove any possible justification for such acts”.

The statement expresses appreciation for the theological work done by churches on the concept of security and expresses the need to accompany and support the churches as they respond prophetically and creatively in a pastoral mission to assist those that are caught up in fear.

It encourages interfaith initiatives for non-violent responses to terrorism and refraining from all attempts to justify acts of terror as a response to political and social problems. It seeks an active role in the prevention of conflicts by serving as an early warning system and by building a culture of peace for life.

It affirms that all acts to counter terrorism by the state must remain within the framework of the international rule of law, ensuring respect for human rights and humanitarian law. It says legislation to counter terrorism should not result in humiliation and violation of human rights and dignities. "It is necessary for the states and the international community to go beyond policing and military cooperation and embrace cooperation in order to address root causes of terrorism."

The full text of the "Statement on Terrorism, Human Rights and Counter-terrorism" is available at

www.wcc-assembly.info/en/theme-issues/assembly-documents/plenary-presentations/committee-reports/public-issues-committee/final-report.html

Assembly website:www.wcc-assembly.info

Contact in Porto Alegre:+55 / 51 8419.216