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Migration and Home Affairs
News article2 March 2021

Thursday 11 March: 17th European Day of Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism

On Thursday 11 March, the European Commission will organise an event in Madrid to mark the 17th European Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Terrorism. The event brings together victims of terrorism, victims' associations and first responders to share their stories and experiences, as well as European and Member States' representatives to present EU and civil society initiatives and the European Centre of expertise for victims of terrorism. This year, the theme of the event will be “Always United”.

The event starts at 9.30 and is open for journalists to attend via videoconference with prior registration. Please send an email with your details to indicating which media outlet you will be representing by Monday 08 March 12.00 CET. Please consider that only limited spots are available on our conference platform.
Coverage will also be provided via Europe by Satellite.

The event

The remembrance event will take place at the Representation of the European Commission in Madrid, as well as via videoconference.

Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson will be present, and Commission Deputy Director-General for Migration and Home Affairs Olivier Onidi will chair the event. French Minister of Justice Eric Dupont Moretti, Portuguese Minister of Home Affairs Eduardo Cabrita and Spanish Minister of Home Affairs Fernando Grande-Marlaska, and the German Federal Government Commissioner for the Victims and Bereaved of Terrorist Offences committed on National Territory, Prof. Dr. Edgar Franke are also due to intervene.

Following a minute of silence, and an interlude by the orchestra the Young Belgian Strings, testimonies will share their story to showcase the resilience of victims and their families and pay tribute to all EU citizens who have been victims of terrorism worldwide. A medical doctor will also testify. Gilles de Kerchove, EU Counter-Terrorism Coordinator will deliver a speech. The new EU handbook on victims of terrorism aiming to assist in the practical implementation of existing EU legislation of victims’ rights will be presented by the European Commission Coordinator for Victims’ Rights Katarzyna Janicka-Pawlowska. The last intervention will focus on a French civil society initiative in schools to engage with youngsters based on the movie le jeune Ahmed from Dardenne brothers.

Testimonies for the 2021 edition

Shirley Zapf lost his parents in a terrorist attack in Istanbul on January 12, 2016, in front of the obelisk on Sultan Ahmed Square, in front of the Blue Mosque.

Tor-Inge Kristoffersonwas seated 17 metres away when the van loaded with a bomb of 900 kilos exploded at the Government Quarter in Oslo on 22 July 2011. When everybody escaped the buildings as fast as they could, Tor-Inge and his colleagues stayed and assisted the rescue-teams.

Antonio Miguel Utrera was on the train during the attacks of Madrid of March 11th 2004.

Debora Huyghe lost her 21-year-old son son Bart, Belgian student in the 2016 Brussels attacks (at the airport).

Dr. Catherine Thiery is a medical doctor who was present to deliver first aid during the attack in Nice in 2006.


The European Day of Remembrance of Victims of Terrorism was established after the Madrid Bombings in 2004. Each year since 2005, the European Commission remembers on this date the victims of terrorist atrocities. The Radicalisation Awareness Network, through its working group on victims of terrorism, is responsible for the remembrance all victims of terrorism, particularly by cooperating in the organisation of the European Remembrance Day and presenting victims’ experiences to highlight the human consequences of violent extremism.

Providing support to victims of crime, including victims of terrorist attacks, is an important part of the Commission's work to address all dimensions of the terrorist threat. The EU has put in place a strong legal framework to protect victims across Europe through the EU-wide compensation scheme, the Victims' Rights Directive and the Directive on Combating Terrorism. In January 2020, the EU Centre of Expertise for Victims of Terrorism set up by the Commission launched its activities aiming mainly to provide support to Member States to assist victims after a terrorist attack. On 24 June 2020, the Commission adopted its first EU strategy on victims' rights. This strategy aims at ensuring that all victims of crime can fully rely on their rights, no matter where and in what circumstances the crime took place.

In September 2020, the Commission inaugurated the EU Victims’ Rights Platform as one of the key actions of the EU Strategy on victims’ rights (2020-2025) and appointed the European Commission Coordinator for victims’ rights Katarzyna Janicka-Pawlowska.


Publication date
2 March 2021