LONDON - The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on Monday in its most extensive studies of counter-terrorism and human rights said that the UK and the US in the past seven years have 'actively undermined' international law in the way they fight terrorism. The independent panel of eminent judges and lawyers carried out a three-year global study which presents alarming findings about the impact of counter-terrorism policies worldwide and calls for remedial action. The Eminent Jurists Panel on Terrorism, Counter-Terrorism and Human Rights, established by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), has based its report 'Assessing Damage, Urging Action' on sixteen hearings covering more than 40 countries in all regions of the world. The ICJ report said, "In the course of this inquiry, we have been shocked by the extent of the damage done over the past seven years by excessive or abusive counter-terrorism measures in a wide range of countries around the world. Many govts, ignoring the lessons of history, have allowed themselves to be rushed into hasty responses to terrorism that have undermined cherished values and violated human rights". The result is a serious threat to the integrity of the international human rights legal framework," said Justice Arthur Chaskalson, the Chair of the Panel, former Chief Justice of South Africa and first President of the South African Constitutional Court. The report illustrates the consequences of notorious counter-terrorism practices such as torture, disappearances, arbitrary and secret detention, unfair trials, and persistent impunity for gross human rights violations in many parts of the world. The Panel warns of the danger that exceptional 'temporary' counter-terrorism measures are becoming permanent features of law and practice, including in democratic societies. The Panel urges that the present political climate may provide one of the last chances for a concerted international effort to take remedial measures and restore long-standing international norms. The change in US administration provides a unique opportunity for change. "Seven years after 9/11 it is time to take stock and to repeal abusive laws and policies enacted in recent years. Human rights and international humanitarian law provide a strong and flexible framework to address terrorist threats," said Mary Robinson, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, former President of Ireland and current President of the ICJ . "It is now absolutely essential that all states restore their commitment to human rights and that the United Nations takes on a leadership role in this process. If we fail to act now, the damage to international law risks becoming permanent," she added. The report calls for the rejection of the "war on terror" paradigm and for a full repudiation of the policies grounded in it. It emphasises that criminal justice systems, not secret intelligence, should be at the heart of the legal response to terrorism. "We have seen intelligence services around the world acting with insufficient accountability and intelligence cooperation being undertaken outside the rule of law," said Hina Jilani, lawyer of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders. "This intelligence is then used in various legal proceedings and cannot be contested. Secrecy is becoming a pervasive feature in our legal systems." Amjad Malik, a Chairman of Association of Pakistani lawyers (UK) has welcomed ICJ report on 'advancing access to justice, human rights and the rule of law' and expressed his views talking to the scribe that despite criticism on Govt policy and the way they handled 'war on terror', APL believes that British courts have played genuinely a praiseworthy role by separating the chaff from grain. They ensured that due process of law, fair trial and citizens liberties must remain intact whilst govt attempts to protect the public and look after the interest of the state. He referred the 1999 case of a Muslim Imam Shafiq Ur Rehamn who won his appeal on facts by the first tribunal set up to adjudicate national security deportations despite the fact that 9/11 occurred, the man was never touched. Again, British Law Lords in 2004 refused to allow 17 Saudis to be detained forever without a charge creating a sense of justice in the victim communities. In the same tone 'control orders' were scrapped if they were unreasonably restrictive in free movement jeopardising liberty of foreign individuals facing curfew of more than 20 hours. In 2008, one of the friends of Osama, Abu Qatada was released on bail when continuous detention was sought without charge. Abu Hamza Al Masri was offered a fair trial and free legal access to his lawyers whilst he was facing strip off action of his nationality and extradition to United Sates on terrorism charges and lastly Samina Malik's conviction was quashed on the premises that it was too excessive. Looking at this I am assured that British Courts have not only gained respect but allowed the government to function as well as keeping the civil liberties intact. It was a fine balance between the interest of individuals and that of the state which was kept under check by British Courts as opposed to its counterparts in USA who remained silent on water boarding and Guantanamo Bay.