AS (2007) CR 35


DVD edition



(Fourth part)


Thirty-Fifth Sitting

Thursday 4 October 2007 at 3 p.m.

In this report:

1.       Speeches in English are reported in full.

2.       Speeches in other languages are summarised.

3.       Speeches in German and Italian are reproduced in full in a separate document.

4.       Corrections should be handed in at Room 1059A not later than 24 hours after the report has been circulated.

The contents page for this sitting is given at the end of the verbatim report.

Mr van der Linden, President of the Assembly, took the chair at 3.10 p.m.

THE PRESIDENT. – The sitting is open.

1. Minutes of proceedings

THE PRESIDENT. – The minutes of proceedings of the Thirty-Third Sitting have been distributed.

Are these minutes agreed to?

The minutes are agreed to.

2. Written declaration

THE PRESIDENT. – In accordance with Rule 53 of the Rules of Procedure a written declaration No. 403 on the Anna Politkovskaya Case, Document 11413, which has been signed by 34 members, has been printed.

Any Representative or Substitute may add his signature to this written declaration in the Table Office, room 1083. If any names are added, the declaration will be distributed again two weeks after the end of the part-session, with all the accumulated signatures.

3. Organisation of debates

THE PRESIDENT. – This afternoon we have a large number of delegates wishing to speak, with debates on two reports and an address to the Assembly by Mr Laksono, the next President of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly.

We will have to interrupt the list of speakers in the debate on prostitution at about 4.45 p.m. The debate on creationism in education will start at about 5 p.m. and the list of speakers will be interrupted at about 6 p.m. to leave sufficient time for replies on behalf of the committees and the votes.

Are these arrangements agreed?

They are agreed.

4. Address by Mr H. R. Agung Laksono, next President of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly

We now have the honour of hearing an address by Mr Laksono, the next President of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly. After his address, he has kindly agreed to take questions from the floor. I welcome the delegation of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It is the second time that we have had an official visit from the Asian Parliamentary Assembly. Its members requested closer co-operation at the beginning of 2005 because they wanted to use the Council of Europe as a model for co-operation in Asia. We are very pleased that they have chosen the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe because it is a good example of the proven success of co-operation between European states. It is also a good example of dealing with important matters such as peace, stability and prosperity.

We have also organised a working programme whereby speakers of the various parliaments in Asia have the opportunity to take part in a discussion with the various institutions and organs of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. I sincerely hope that the important message of the Council of Europe is always based on dialogue, discussion, mutual understanding, respect and tolerance. I am therefore very pleased to welcome to our Chamber today a delegation of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly, of which you, Mr Laksono, will be president next year and which is an important initiative designed to enhance regional stability and the prospects of integration in various fields. I also congratulate you on your successful chairmanship of the Inter-Parliamentary Union this year, in Indonesia.

This Parliamentary Assembly is proud that you have chosen our model for your own activities and we are glad to have been of assistance in establishing your Assembly. Your presence here today underlines our willingness to continue this close co-operation, based on a shared commitment to democratic development. In a globalising world where we are brought closer by the day, it is important that we establish a network of relations between parliamentarians around the world as a counter-weight to the governmental authority expressed through international organisations.

One of the key themes of the Parliamentary Assembly last year, and hopefully in the coming years, is intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, on which we have done much work. We hope to invest much energy and political activity in that important theme in the future. I therefore very much look forward to hearing more about the activities and aspirations of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly. Mr Laksono, the floor is yours.

Mr LAKSONO (next President of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly). – Mr President, honourable representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe, Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentleman. First, I would like to express my highest appreciation and gratitude to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for its kind invitation and for providing the opportunity for Indonesia and the incoming President of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly to share our views on the importance of achieving better understanding between the two institutions.

I would also like to thank the Hanns Seidel Foundation, which has been kind enough to make it possible for the APA to interact with PACE.

On behalf of other members of the APA and myself, I would like to express the deepest regret for the absence of the President of the APA, His Excellency Dr Haddad Adel. He had been scheduled to deliver a speech on behalf of the APA here today. However, he had to cancel his trip due to circumstances that are unacceptable to the Iranian public and authorities. At the last minute, I was asked to replace Dr Adel and speak on behalf of the APA.

Also present today to represent the APA before this esteemed Assembly are: Dr Nejad-Hosseinian, Secretary General of the APA; Honourable Barrister Muhammad Jamiruddin Sircar, the Speaker of the Bangladesh Parliament; Honourable Victor Francisco Ortega, Congressman from the Philippines; and Mr Souleiman Hada, the Chairman of the Committee on International and Arab Affairs, Syrian Parliament; as well as two other members of the Indonesian House of Representatives, Mr Abdillah Toha and Mr Marzuki Dausman.

I believe that interaction between the APA and PACE will be beneficial to peace and security in the world. We consider the unity of Europe to be a significant and auspicious development. In realising unity, Europe has survived many challenges in its decades of history, including civil wars in the 18th and 19th centuries as well as two world wars in the first half of the 20th century.

On the other hand, there is abundant evidence of progress and development in Asia. It is the largest continent geographically and the oldest continent historically, with tremendously rich natural resources. It is the most populated continent, with vastly diverse cultures and ethnic groups.

We live in a world in which the constituent components are becoming increasingly interlinked and interdependent. Globalisation has created a borderless world that has changed the global agenda in such a way that no progress can be achieved in any field without universal interaction.

With its resources and enormous capacities, Asia is influential and has much weight in the global political, economic, trade and cultural equations. Asia is certainly important in global trends. Some think that global trends will inevitably lead to the consolidation of the present centres of power and wealth, the unification of development models and the elimination of natural and regional identities. Behind such notions of the unfolding events and developments that face humanity hides a simplistic philosophical view that is being exploited by certain powers for political and commercial purposes.

Current global trends are likely to lead to a unipolar world while on the other hand conditions and opportunities are created for new poles of power and greater interaction between them. Furthermore, the most significant impact of globalisation is a greater collective realisation and greater interconnection between human beings. That has created deep consciousness in respect of rejecting isolationism as well as unilateralist and exclusive approaches to global issues.

Furthermore, we continue to witness the crass application of double standards in human rights issues by the major powers at the expense of weaker and developing states. That hypocritical practice will inevitably lead eventually to the erosion of respect for, and confidence in, universal human rights.

We in Asia see Europe as a balancing power in a world that these days is tending to be dragged into unipolarity. The strength of the European Union should be used for the benefit of alleviating poverty and ensuring economic and political equity – among other means by strengthening the United Nations through the oft-spoken need for reform. Based on that view, the APA has striven and worked whole-heartedly to overcome the challenges that we face, by relying on common values and ideas. It is on that basis that the APA warmly welcomes co-operation and stronger partnership with other regional institutions, such as the PACE. We are of the view that co-operation between Asia and Europe in various fields is no longer a matter of choice, but rather a requirement for global relations that will result in precious benefits for two important regions and two major global poles. Such co-operation would also greatly benefit the APA through learning from the successful experience of Europe in its process of integration and unity. In Asia, although it is still far from achieving integration, there is serious endeavour towards that progress, among other means through the APA.

I would like briefly to explain the Asian Parliamentary Assembly. It is the successor of the Asian Parliamentary Association for Peace, which was established in 1992 as a result of the concerted efforts of Asian parliamentarians and representatives of civil society in Asia. It began its activities with two basic mottos as its guiding principles: supporting peace based on justice and consolidating Asian integration.

Against that backdrop, we draw your attention to recent developments in Myanmar. While the process of democratisation is making ever greater strides in Asia, especially in the ASEAN – Association of South East Asian Nations – region, the recent tragic events in Myanmar have shown a total and serious setback in the process, with the heaviest cost and suffering of its people. The continued repression of the military regime has been globally condemned. We call on all democratic states to do their utmost to effect democratic change, restoring the people’s right to claim their freedom and freeing the Myanmar people from the reprehensible repression of the military junta.

Mr President, I believe that democratic institutions such as the Asian Parliamentary Assembly and the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly can play an effective role in promoting a lasting and fundamental relationship between Asia and Europe by focusing on their two salient characteristics: first, their democratic character; and, secondly, their authority as law makers and promoters of the rule of law. I hope that our institutions will be able to open a new chapter in our relations through institutionalised and continuous interaction and that they will be ever more successful in realising our common objectives. I have no doubt that those relationships will lay the ground for mutually beneficial and reinforcing relationships in the fields of law-making and the consolidation of democracy in Europe and Asia and will help us to face our common challenges.

In November 2008, Indonesia will host the APA General Assembly, which will be followed by an assembly of Asian and African parliaments in the Afro-Asian Parliamentary Conference. As the host country, Indonesia would like to invite members from the PACE to participate as observers at the assembly and conference.

As we are all aware, the 117th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union will be held in Geneva next week. More and more, parliaments are called on to play an important role in securing peace and stability. The Indonesian Parliament pledges its commitment to extend its role throughout the world and in that connection we commit ourselves to take an active and leading role in the IPU to further its goals and objectives. We encourage the APA group in the IPU to assert its presence within the world parliament body and actively to participate in its work for the benefit of its member states, especially in the process of democratising nations. In that regard, the Indonesian House of Representatives seeks your support for nomination of its speaker to be the next president of the IPU, for which election is due next year.

Finally, I again express my deepest gratitude and appreciation for the hospitality extended to us and the whole APA delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. On behalf of the APA, I would like to invite the esteemed President of the PACE to be our guest and deliver an address at the next General Assembly of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly in Tehran in November 2007.

Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you very much, Mr Laksono, for your most interesting address and especially for your strong commitment to co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. You mentioned that you see Europe as a balancing power in the world, especially in relation to soft power. We see the Council of Europe as a value community and as a kind of moral conscience. On Monday, the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe condemned, as you did and as I did in my opening speech, repression by the junta in Myanmar. Thank you, too, for taking such a clear stand against that repression by military juntas in your speech this afternoon.

Members of the Assembly have expressed a wish to put questions to you. The first question is from Mr Mota Amaral on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party. I remind members that questions must be limited to thirty seconds and no more. Colleagues should be asking questions and not making speeches.

Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal). – That warning will not be necessary for me, Mr President.

THE PRESIDENT. – It is for the others.

Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal). – Mr Laksono, do you think it feasible for the Asian Parliamentary Assembly under your leadership to adopt a draft convention concerning the protection of human rights with provisions similar to those in the European Convention on Human Rights, namely the prohibition of the death penalty?

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Laksono?

Mr LAKSONO (Translation). – Thank you for the question. The APA is very concerned that human rights is not the only issue that faces the Asian countries. Poverty is the No. 1 issue, although there are many others. Human rights should be practised in a universal way, without double standards.

THE PRESIDENT. – The next question is from Mr Eörsi on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary). – I want to understand how you work and what you think about some important matters. We in the Council of Europe, from Ireland to Georgia and Russia to Portugal, disagree about many things, but we agree about the basics. What is the APA’s position on one of your member countries, the president of which openly speaks about wiping off the map a country that has observer status in the Council of Europe – namely, Israel? What are you going to do about that?

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Laksono? You can see that the questions here are not easy. We are used to asking open, direct and important questions.

Mr LAKSONO. – I will transfer the question to the Iranian member of the delegation.

THE PRESIDENT. – Only members of parliament can take the floor in the Assembly. If someone else from the delegation who is a member of parliament wants to answer this question, that is not a problem, but the rules do not allow me to give that opportunity to a non-parliamentarian.

Mr LAKSONO (Translation). – Thank you, Mr President. I believe that the question refers to the statement made by the president of one of the members of the APA, who referred to wiping a certain country off the map. I do not take the statement to mean that. I understand that the head of the country concerned predicted that a country that occupies another country unjustly will one day lose the process itself.

THE PRESIDENT. – The next question is from Mr Kox on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mr KOX (Netherlands). – I am proud that we have the Speaker from the Indonesian Parliament in our midst because he represents a big democracy while the Speaker of the Iranian Parliament only represents a dictatorship. Is the promotion of democracy and the rule of law a core business of the APA? What should be done about the countries in the APA that are under authoritarian rule or are even a dictatorship?

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Laksono?

Mr LAKSONO (Translation). – Europe is quite heterogeneous in that regard. Different stages of democracy are developing in different countries in Asia. Although democracy is an important practice that should be allowed to develop in every country, there are other priorities in those countries, the first of which is the alleviation of poverty. The APA wants all its members to practise full democracy and to respect human rights, but we also understand that certain countries need more time to do that.

THE PRESIDENT. – The next question is from Ms Pashayeva.

Ms PASHAYEVA (Azerbaijan). – As you are aware, one of the most important issues is broadening inter-religious and intercultural dialogue. What activities is the APA undertaking in that respect, and what kind of co-operation is taking place between the APA and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to implement joint projects and programmes?

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Laksono?

Mr LAKSONO (Translation). – Just now, before the Assembly sat, we had a meeting with the different political groups of the PACE and discussed the co-operation that could take place between us. One of the things that could be realised very soon is a more frequent exchange of parliamentarians to increase the understanding between Asia and Europe. We also discussed the possibility of European parliaments, with their great experience, training parliamentary staff of APA member countries. We would also like to exchange information on the different systems used in the APA and the PACE. In addition, we agreed that there should be a joint committee so that we can have more frequent interactions.

THE PRESIDENT. – The next question is from Mr Lindblad.

Mr LINDBLAD (Sweden). – Does the President of the APA primarily and fully represent the APA, or does he, as is the case with President Adel and Iran, mainly represent his own country? President Adel did not come here because he disagreed with some of the things that our parliamentarians had said.

I would like to follow up Mr Kox’s question. What do you do in the APA to promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law? You told us that you see things working slowly in some countries and more quickly in others, but what does the APA do?

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Laksono?

Mr LAKSONO (Translation). – Certainly, the President of the APA does not represent one country: he tries to put his full efforts into representing the views and opinions of all member countries as much as possible. On the other hand, however, we fully understand the absence of the President of the APA, who is also the Speaker of the Islamic Republic of Iran. One cannot separate the two positions. He holds a political position in his country but he is head, too, of the APA, so his absence from the Chamber is fully accepted by us. We hope that that absence will not have any effect on the future relationship between the APA and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

THE PRESIDENT. – The next question is from Mrs Tevdoradze.

Mrs TEVDORADZE (Georgia) did not understand Mr Laksono’s answer concerning one state wiping another off the face of the earth. She asked if he could explain this further. She also wanted to know whether he shared the view of one of his member states regarding the denial of the Holocaust.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Laksono?

Mr LAKSONO (Translation). – We have discussed quite frequently the statement made by the President of Iran about the Holocaust. We wonder why this matter, seventy years after the end of the Second World War, has become very important to be discussed.

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary). – Two thirds of my family were killed.

Mr LAKSONO (Translation). – We understand. Secondly, we understand that what the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran wanted was not not to admit the existence of the Holocaust but to allow people to research and study the Holocaust with a purely scientific approach. We believe that in some countries in Europe, people are prosecuted when they make a study of the Holocaust. That is how we understand his position.

THE PRESIDENT. – I must tell you that, after the Second World War, there was an international investigation, and it was internationally recognised that there was clearly a Holocaust, so nobody in this Assembly is in any doubt about what happened. I hope that everybody realises that the Council of Europe is built on the ruins, the bloodshed, the misery, and the pain of the First, and especially the Second, World Wars. We said, “Never again.”

I want to say from my deepest feelings that we have members in this Assembly who lost a great part of their family. We must be very happy that we live today in the Europe that, thanks to the great Europeans – Adenauer, de Gaspari, Schuman and others – has created structures that enable us to be an example, hopefully, for other regions in the world, so that we can live in peace, not only in Europe but everywhere in the world. I understand you very well when you say that we have to fight poverty. Poverty is one of the strongest violations of human rights. People have the right to live in dignity, but do not forget that in Europe, we cannot accept that any question should be asked about what happened in the Second World War.

The next question is from Mr Goldstein.

Mr GOLDSTEIN (Observer from Canada). – Thank you, Mr President of the Assembly, especially for those kind remarks. The question that I was going to ask was essentially asked by Mr Eörsi, and was responded to by an interpretation that defies logic and reason and, regrettably, flies in the face of plain language.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you for that remark. The next question is from Mr Dupraz.

Mr DUPRAZ (Switzerland) asked what the Asian Parliamentary Assembly had done to ensure that minorities had the right to self-expression and demonstration.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Laksono?

Mr LAKSONO (Translation). – We believe that democracy would not exist without the protection of minorities, which is very important. To give an example, in my country, Indonesia, we have recently enacted two laws. The first is an anti-discrimination law for different ethnic groups. The second law deals with citizenship. Wherever different citizens come from, whatever their ethnicity, they will automatically get citizenship in the country. We are concerned about that and we pay a lot of attention to it, and I believe, too, that other APA countries pay attention to the protection of minorities and the process of the development of democracy.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. The next question is from Mr Béteille.

Mr BÉTEILLE (France) was indignant about the comments made by the President of Iran concerning the Holocaust, and said that the President of Iran had convened a conference for Holocaust deniers. He asked for an assurance that the Asian Parliamentary Assembly would not allow such a hateful ideology to take root.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Laksono?

Mr LAKSONO (Translation). – We do not want to repeat the discussion on this. We think that we have already answered the question.

THE PRESIDENT. – The next question is from Mr Zingeris.

Mr ZINGERIS (Lithuania). – We have experience of extended dialogues between religions: we have received representatives from the Orthodox Church and Muslim leaders in this Hemicycle. Today’s meeting, however, is between two parliamentary assemblies. Belarus is out of this Assembly for a clear reason – the violation of human rights. Should the Asian Parliamentary Assembly freeze Iranian membership, because the Iranian judicial system has nothing to do with human rights?

Mr LAKSONO (Translation). – The current President of the APA, Mr Haddad Adel, is very concerned about human rights, development and democracy. If Europe expects all the democracies in the world to follow the model of Europe, it will be difficult to judge whether a particular country is in a democratic state. In the Islamic Republic of Iran, there have been free elections for the role of president and free elections of members of parliament on many occasions.

THE PRESIDENT. – The last question is from Mr Messerschmidt.

Mr MESSERSCHMIDT (Denmark). – I think that I am speaking on behalf of many members of the Assembly when I say that I feel deeply insulted that Mr Haddad Adel did not take the opportunity to speak to us today, especially when I know that he represents one of the most cruel, violent and totalitarian regimes on the earth and that the sole reason why he has not taken that opportunity is because we have met with his disapproval. Like the APA, the idea of this Council is to have dialogue. I want to know whether Mr Laksono will follow the disrespectful line taken by Mr Haddad Adel in the coming year when he represents the APA, or whether he will follow the idea of dialogue between the APA and the Council of Europe.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. Would you like to answer that question, Mr Laksono?

Mr LAKSONO (Translation). – We would certainly like to continue the dialogue with Europe. As I have said, when I become the President of the APA, I will invite you, Mr President, to attend the APA Assembly and make a speech in Tehran and to attend the Afro-Asian conference next year in Jakarta. It is very important that dialogue is maintained and developed.

THE PRESIDENT. – That brings us to the end of the questions. I thank Mr Laksono not only for his address, but for his answers to questions.

I want to add a few more things. It is clear that this is a house of democracy and freedom of expression. I am very proud that we can address all the questions, which is something that we have achieved after many years of discussion, development and dialogue. The APA was founded just a few years ago. I want to see you develop your co-operation while taking, as you have stated, the Council of Europe as an example. Of course, you should not copy that example completely; you should take how we have proceeded through the past decades and accelarate that process. I am sure that that will be to the advantage of your citizens. We have seen that in our part of the world, where we have brought a lot to our citizens. We want to assist and to co-operate – it is not good to teach; it is good to set a good example.

However, one thing is impossible: we cannot discuss what happened in the past, which was established by the international court after the Second World War at Nuremberg. We cannot accept a return to racism, xenophobia and anti-Semitism – we cannot stand for it, and that is a rule in our political lives and our consciousness. I sincerely hope that it is clear to the Asian Parliamentary Assembly that that is one of our strong achievements and that it cannot be called into question. You are most welcome to continue an open and frank discussion and dialogue, and we accept that you are in a process of development.

Given what you have said as the Speaker of the Indonesian Parliament, I am pleased that you will take the approach of continuing to co-operate with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Thank you.

5. Prostitution – which stance to take?

THE PRESIDENT. – The first item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report on “Prostitution – which stance to take?”, presented by Mr Platvoet on behalf of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, Document 11352

The list of speakers, which has been distributed, closed at noon. I remind you that we have already agreed that we shall interrupt the list of speakers at about 4.45 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote.

I call Mr Platvoet, the rapporteur, You have eight minutes.

Mr PLATVOET (Netherlands). – Last week, on behalf of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, I visited a conference in Sofia about marginalised people – mostly sex workers. The Prime Minister of Bulgaria, a woman, opened the conference with a very good speech. People from all the member states of the Council of Europe were present – politicians, policy makers, doctors, scientists and sex workers themselves. I was asked to present my draft report, which we discuss today. It was good to see and hear that there was great support for the basic approach in my report: first, that member states should formulate an explicit policy on prostitution; secondly, that human rights are universal and that sex workers too should also be in full possession of them; and thirdly, that forced prostitution, child prostitution and the trafficking of human beings must meet a zero tolerance approach.

Let me go somewhat deeper into those three headlines. Why should member states of the Council of Europe formulate an explicit policy on prostitution? There are, roughly speaking, three approaches in member states – prohibition, legalisation and abolition. About a third of member states – 17 – prohibit prostitution, prostitutes and pimps alike, although not always clients. A substantial minority – nine – have legalised prostitution. Twenty member states want to abolish prostitution – they penalise procurers and pimps, and sometimes also prostitutes. Sweden’s near-abolitionist approach penalises clients, and tries to get sex workers out of the profession.

The big problem with the countries which prohibit or want to abolish prostitution is that there is often the practice of double standards – prostitutes are chased and criminalised, but clients are not. Having paid sex itself is not prohibited, but offering paid sex is. In many cases, sex workers do not have easy access to health care. And authorities, such as policemen, often show a male chauvinist approach towards sex workers, no matter if they are male or female, and there is often a misuse of power. So, no matter which approach a country takes, an explicit policy should be based on the principle of human rights, which should be effective and universal, including for sex workers.

As an organisation based on human rights and respect for human dignity, the Council of Europe should take a stance on prostitution which reflects its core mission. Basing one’s judgment on respect for human dignity does not mean taking a moralistic approach, however – it means respecting people’s decisions and choices as long as they harm no one. In my report I therefore concentrate on the human rights aspects of voluntary prostitution. That is the most human way to deal with people who are in a marginalised zone.

In many countries, prostitution is forced to go underground. As a consequence, organised crime more often than not becomes involved, and prostitutes are made more vulnerable. Most cannot work independently and become dependent on pimps and procurers, and are totally at the mercy of their clients, who may demand unsafe sexual practices that cause STDs, and HIV and AIDS. For that reason, international organisations such as the World Health Organization have abandoned moralistic approaches and instead have adopted a pragmatic one.

The principle of a human rights approach towards prostitution is reflected in the proposals in my report. The following measures should be taken in the context of an explicit policy of member states: stop the criminalisation of prostitutes; address the structural problems which may lead to prostitution, such as poverty, war or lack of education or resources; address prostitutes’ personal vulnerabilities such as mental health problems, childhood abuse or drug abuse; develop programmes to assist prostitutes to leave the profession if they wish to; ensure access to health care and safe sexual practices; and respect the right of prostitutes to organise themselves.

Paragraphs 3 and 4 of the draft resolution strongly condemn the trafficking of women and child prostitution. It is clear that, in these cases, one cannot speak of voluntary prostitution. It is also clear that the trafficking of women often has to do with forcing them to work as sex workers. The UN convention of 1949 addressed that – at a time when in no country in Europe was prostitution legalised. In that convention, and also in the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, it is written that all the states parties should take all appropriate measures to suppress trafficking and the exploitation of women through prostitution. It cannot be read as a suppression of voluntary prostitution or a condemning of legislation – otherwise, it would not be possible for countries such as Austria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Cyprus, Switzerland and Turkey to have regulated prostitution.

However, in the draft resolution and draft recommendation there is no plea for regulation, prohibition or abolition. The stance that member states should take is to acknowledge the human rights of sex workers, stop their criminalisation and empower them.

(Mr Jurgens, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr van der Linden.)

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Mr Platvoet. I call Ms Woldseth on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Ms WOLDSETH (Norway). – On behalf of the EDG, I thank the rapporteur, Mr Platvoet, for a balanced report that underlines the necessity of keeping this issue warm, and for not giving up on trafficked children and women. We must never give up the fight against child prostitution and trafficking in human beings – never. There must be zero tolerance in all member countries of the trafficking of women and children. I hope that all member countries will ratify the Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. Sadly, so far only nine countries have done that, so this is something that we really need to work on.

I was recently in St Petersburg and visited an orphanage where small children as young as five were living. They came from former Soviet states and were sold to the sex industry in Europe by their parents. Luckily, they were found by the Russians while there in transit, and they were placed in a home for trafficked children. It almost broke my heart to see these small children trying to learn to live with the fact that their parents had sold them. They were taken good care of in Russia as long as they were able to stay there, but unfortunately they were sent back to their parents if it was possible to trace their identity after three months – back to the parents who sold them in the first place.

So there, in St Petersburg, I decided that my mission for the next few years was to do everything in my power to stop the trafficking of children and women. Therefore, like the rapporteur, I stress that all countries that have signed but not yet ratified the convention should do so. That includes the Norwegian Government. I am not proud to say that, even though we were told last year that ratification was right around the corner, still nothing has happened. I was told the other day that something will happen in the near future, so let us hope that that is a fact.

From my point of view, there is no solution in forbidding the buying or selling of sex, as long as we are speaking of voluntary prostitution. To be honest, I do not think that any prostitution is voluntary, but nevertheless for some women it is the only way to make a living, and it is not for me to judge. So it is good to read in the report about respecting the rights of such women, ending the abuse and providing them with medical care, not criminalising them – and last but not least, forcing them underground; we all know that the prostitutes are even more vulnerable if they have to hide, as they will be much more exposed to violence and pimps.

Mr President, I hope that in the long run we will see results in our battle against trafficking, and that the Council of Europe will go on fighting for these women and children – and for the prostitute’s dignity.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mrs Meulenbelt on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

Mrs MEULENBELT (Netherlands). – Yesterday, I tried to find data on how many men in European countries use the services of prostitutes. I know that the facts are there but I could not find them on the Internet. Most reports on prostitution focus on the prostitutes, not their clients, although it is obvious that, without clients, we would not be discussing prostitution. Let us assume that half the male population has paid a woman or a man for sexual services at least once in their lives. Looking around the Assembly, that would mean that tens, even hundreds, of men know about prostitution from experience. Even if we accept that as a fact, I never hear any men whom I meet at events such as this one say that they had a delightful hour with a sex worker yesterday, in the way that they would describe a nice dinner in a good restaurant.

Mr President, perhaps you think that my remarks about the men present in the Assembly are highly inappropriate. If so, I apologise. I began my speech in that way because my comments are highly relevant to the report that Mr Platvoet presented. The fact that no man will proudly or matter of factly say that he visited a prostitute, but would regard that as a shameful thing means that prostitution as a profession is stigmatised, condemned and hidden. It is not likely ever to be regarded as normal work and let me be clear: we are not willing to accept that it should; that is not my goal.

I have apologised, so I shall start again in a more respectable manner. On behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left, I congratulate the rapporteur, Mr Platvoet, on a serious piece of work. I should also like to congratulate him on a personal level on being a true ally of women.

The report clearly describes the different approaches in different European countries, including their advantages and drawbacks, to dealing with prostitutes. One big problem that the report emphasises is that the women and men who offer sexual services are in a large variety of situations. There are extreme forms of exploitation at one end of the spectrum – women who are bought, forced and mistreated; at the other end of the spectrum, there is a relatively small élite who consider themselves to be totally in charge of their own lives and free to sell their services.

We have held debates on this issue for years. Even in the women’s movement, there were opposing points of view. On the one hand is the idea that prostitution is always degrading and that no woman with an alternative would ever choose to sell her body. On the other hand, some prostitutes refuse to be seen as victims and have started to organise themselves. It has never been possible to agree on one way of dealing with prostitution. We must accept that there is no single solution for the broad range of people involved in prostitution.

However, it is clear that focusing only on women as victims is no longer an option. We must examine the whole network – the traffickers, the pimps and the clients – if we want to better the position of prostitutes and view them as human beings with human rights to a life that is as decent as possible.

The report is clear about several matters. We should fight the trafficking of women and children, and forced prostitution under all circumstances. I agree with the previous speaker about that. We should be clear that child prostitution can never be voluntary. I agree that the focus should be on supporting women and men who sell sexual services by protecting their human rights as far as possible, reducing their vulnerability, providing support to help them leave prostitution and offering social and health services. Condemnation and punishment will only stigmatise women further.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I do not think it was necessary to apologise for what you said. It was quite straightforward.

I call Mrs Err on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mrs ERR (Luxembourg) congratulated the rapporteur on his nuanced report on what was a sensitive subject. She considered that the report should be adopted as presented, but recognised that this might not be amenable to all. In her opinion, the views as set out within the report should be implemented at an intergovernmental level.

It was important to recognise that different countries had different situations, and although she did not wish to offer lessons from Luxembourg, she wished to draw attention to the approach adopted in her country towards prostitution. Women operating as prostitutes were able to sign up to the social security system and categorise themselves as self-employed without needing to undertake any medical examination. This allowed them to retain a certain anonymity with regard to their source of income for, even though prostitution might be “the oldest profession in the world”, it was not possible to equate it with other jobs.

That morning, she had read an article in the local paper which stated that a €15 million clean-up was to take place in the red light district of Amsterdam with the implication that this area was the last bastion of slavery and exploitation. Other press articles had called attention to the unexpected support of some pimps and traffickers for decriminalisation. Such support cast suspicion on the motives of those people. It was important to remember that, although there could be benefit in decriminalising prostitution, effort was needed to ensure that the seriousness of the practice was not trivialised.

Women operating as prostitutes had a legal right to demand the guarantee of security, particularly social security, in order to meet their individual aspirations.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mrs Circene on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.

Mrs CIRCENE (Latvia). – I thank Mr Platvoet for a topical and serious report. The Parliamentary Assembly has discussed several reports on trafficking in human beings and the protection of its victims. However, this is the first time that we have discussed voluntary prostitution.

In reality, as the report shows, every case of prostitution is forced; it is trafficking in human beings.

Mr Platvoet gives an overview of various legal systems in Europe, which are based on three traditional views on dealing with prostitution – prohibitionist, regulationist and abolitionist – but only Swedish legislation touches on the responsibility of men as clients or purchasers. The rapporteur clarifies the fact that in many European states procurement is a criminal offence that carries penalties of differing severity and that only in Germany and in the Netherlands, where prostitution is legal, can we find a definition of voluntary prostitution. However, in those states, it is forced prostitution, too, because social problems such as war, unemployment and lack of education force women to take up prostitution.

Mr Platvoet shows the reality of what is covered under “voluntarism”: most prostitutes do not use their real name and hide what they do from friends and families. In many cases, they are single mothers and poverty can be a synonym of that so-called voluntarism. That is a basic background point that we must consider when discussing how to stop trafficking in human beings, including voluntary victims. The line between voluntary and forced prostitution is not always as clear as it seems.

Furthermore, it is not easy to talk about voluntarism when women are involved in drug using. It is hard for them to find another way of financing a drug habit. In many cases, those people have no real alternative. They need governmental and social support, with programmes of rehabilitation and financial assistance. Mr Platvoet’s report shows the social sensitivity of the question. In October 2005, sex workers from 30 countries elaborated and endorsed “The declaration of the rights of sex workers in Europe” and the “Sex workers in Europe manifesto”.

We need to reduce the rate of HIV infection, support social and health programmes and promote reintegration. That is the responsibility of political decision makers at all levels. In some countries, the police play the most important role in terms of the legislation of prostitution and the licensing process. Lack of police protection can be the signal for forced prostitution and trafficking in human beings.

We invite respect for the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others, which concern all forms of prostitution and prohibit all forms of the involvement of persons in prostitution. Sweden has a specific law penalising the clients of prostitutes, especially those who are still minors. That law could perhaps serve as a model in future.

Once more I thank you, Mr Platvoet, for your serious work on this sensitive question and for your support for human rights for everybody.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mrs Nakashidzé on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Mrs NAKASHIDZÉ (Georgia). – Thank you, Mr President. I join previous speakers in thanking Mr Platvoet for the work he has done and for his courage in raising the issue at the Council of Europe for the first time.

We have often discussed the problem of human trafficking and child victims but we have never so openly discussed so-called voluntary prostitution. It is a question that we should discuss in this Assembly. The problem that we are discussing is as old as the world. As has been said already, prostitution is one of the most ancient professions. I would not say “profession” but it is certainly an occupation, or a way of making a living. However, because prostitution is such an ancient occupation it is very difficult to do away with it.

We have been told of different approaches and different methods of trying to deal with prostitution. Some countries prohibit it, some try to regulate it and others abolish it but most of those approaches are not very successful. Prostitution unfortunately exists and whether we want it or not, it will continue to exist in the future. We may not be able to eliminate it but we should at least try to regulate it and create conditions that might decrease it.

There are different types of prostitution, so we need a versatile approach in dealing with them. I join everyone who has said that child prostitution must be prohibited and that those who involve minors in that profession should be prosecuted and severely punished. We should have a zero tolerance approach to child prostitution. As well as prosecuting those involved in exploiting children as prostitutes we should set up social programmes to rehabilitate the children, to give them shelter and protect them. We should combat child prostitution as severely, or more severely, as we combat human trafficking and other forms of forced prostitution.

Any attempt to abolish voluntary prostitution will only drive prostitution underground and encourage organised crime, thus making prostitutes more vulnerable. It would be better to deal with voluntary prostitution by legalising it so that it can be regulated, not with the aim of taxing it or for other structural reasons but to defend the rights of those involved in prostitution and to protect them.

The term “voluntary prostitution” is not exact. From the report we learn that there may be people who are proud and happy to be prostitutes, but the number of people whose childhood dream was to become a prostitute is very small. Voluntary prostitutes are usually driven to that activity by circumstances so we should give those who want it the opportunity to give up prostitution rather than moralising at them. While legalising the profession and tolerating it, we should not just turn it into an ordinary profession. It is a profession that has strong moral connotations.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mrs Rupprecht.

Mrs RUPPRECHT (Germany) said that the Assembly was discussing a subject which was on the lips of people all around the world. She thanked the rapporteur for his excellent report and was particularly pleased that he had not set out any specific solution. The report merely explored the approaches taken by member states. Voluntary prostitution was a moral issue. It was also an issue about human dignity, mental health and sometimes physical abuse. She had every respect for professional adult prostitutes. She had met many prostitutes and, in doing so, had gained a great appreciation for the difficult life they lead. When she met prostitutes, she had to lay aside her own personal views and listen to their experiences. She thought that there should be a civil law that enabled women to carry on in a profession of prostitution should they choose to. This would not be to encourage people to enter the profession, but to enable people to take a free decision should they wish to leave it.

She said forced prostitution was actually sexual violence and it should be described in that manner. Sexual violence meant that one person was exploiting another for their personal and financial gain. It would be more appropriate to describe forced prostitution as rape. She believed forced prostitution was a contradiction in terms. She went on to say that child prostitution was also a criminal act. Children needed to be protected from sexual violence. Europe needed to adopt a zero tolerance approach. She begged members of the Assembly to take the report back to their own countries and to argue for women to have the right to work as prostitutes. However, vulnerable women needed to be protected and monitored by governments to ensure that they were not exploited.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mr Gruber.

Mr GRUBER (Hungary) said that, in Hungary, prostitution was not a criminal offence; it was classed as a minor offence. Prostitutes could be fined but not imprisoned. A debate had continued in Hungary regarding the classification of prostitution; in particular whether prostitution was a business activity. Business activities in Hungary were subject to taxation. Prostitution was not merely based on a person’s sexuality; it was also based on equality. Some legislation penalised those who frequented prostitutes; some penalized the prostitutes themselves. It was estimated that €1 billion each year could be earned by taxing Hungary’s prostitutes. This would be equivalent to 0.5% of Hungary’s GDP, as 79 000 prostitutes worked in Hungary. He noted that, whenever there was a budget crisis in Hungary, there was a debate about taxing prostitution. Some 85% of prostitutes had been abused as children or suffered sexual abuse as adults. They had learned that their body did not belong to them and that it could be used to gratify someone else. It was important that the state recognised this issue when considering the legalisation of prostitution. The state should assist these women.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mrs Papadoulos.

Mrs PAPADOPOULOS (Cyprus). – The facts on prostitution are worrying. Prostitution knows no boundaries. It is widespread in low-income countries, but also flourishes in developed countries. For example, Germany has 150 000 registered prostitutes. According to the International Labour Organization, the number of people involved in prostitution in eastern countries ranges between 0.25% and 1.5% of the female population and leads to annual earnings of between 2% to 14% of those countries’ gross domestic product. It is estimated that pimps control 90% of prostitution internationally and earn 50% to 100% of the revenue generated while the women earn very little. In the United States, young prostitutes may generate more than US$500 a day for their pimps, but receive less than 5% of the money.

In many countries, high incomes from prostitution constitute an incentive for poor families to send their daughters to pimps and traffickers. In Thailand, nearly US$300 million are transferred annually to rural families by women sex workers. That amount exceeds the budget of government-funded development programmes. Cabarets and pubs are common places for the sexual exploitation of female workers and so-called artist employees.

Prostitution is a controversial issue that is permanently on the political agenda. Different countries have different approaches to it, ranging from legalisation to regulation to absolute prohibition. The Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, drafted by the Council of Europe, provides a comprehensive legal framework for safeguarding victims. Unfortunately, however, it has not been signed and ratified by all countries.

Despite our different approaches, I am sure that we can all agree that trafficking and forced prostitution are modern forms of slavery that must be effectively combated; that there should be zero tolerance for child prostitution, because children need protection and their pimps should be prosecuted and severely punished; that there is no uniform policy on voluntary adult prostitution; and that criminalising and penalising prostitutes is not the solution.

We need action against the main causes of prostitution, which derive from persisting inequalities in the social fabric. Poverty, illiteracy, lack of opportunities, migration, unemployment, economic exploitation, democratic deficits and insufficient social protection systems are the root causes of the problem, pushing desperate women to prostitution.

Fellow parliamentarians, the speed and range of the changes caused by globalisation is enormous. The socio-economic impact on vulnerable groups must be analysed from the gender perspective and addressed effectively by appropriate policies. Gender budgeting is a useful, modern tool to measure the effectiveness of state policies against violence, trafficking and prostitution. We need updated social policies that empower men and women to enjoy freedom of choice, equal opportunities, economic independence and the right to decide their own path in life without fear, oppression, or distress. We need policies to empower vulnerable women to emerge from the margins of society and have more and better choices for employment. Prostitution should not be their only alternative. As parliamentarians, we have a moral duty to act more decisively on gender budgeting and appropriate social policies. I thank the rapporteur for bringing the issue on board.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mrs Graf.

Mrs GRAF (Germany) noted that, earlier in the debate, Mrs Meulenbelt had claimed that there were few reliable statistics about prostitution. She had done her research and had discovered that, every day, an average of 1.2 million German men visited a prostitute. The figures had to be similar elsewhere in Europe. The situation was dealt with differently in different states. Where prostitution was prohibited, it could be pushed across national borders. Bans were counter-productive and were the product of double standards.

There were diverse reasons why women entered the sex trade and it was sometimes difficult to distinguish between forced and voluntary prostitution. Women were not always forced into it, some very well-qualified women had chosen to be prostitutes. It was important to single out forced prostitution and trafficking. Prostitutes who had entered the trade voluntarily did not get enough support and could not always break free. This led to involuntary prostitution. Governments had to help prostitutes boost their self–esteem and break their dependence on pimps, offering them a way out if they desired it.

German law had been mentioned in the debate. The German Parliament was evaluating these legislative changes. Obviously, it was a grey area. Pimping was banned, but prostitutes were able to sign up for health insurance. Some prostitutes were illegal workers or drug addicts. Clearly this was not to be tolerated. It was a modern form of slavery, and sex trafficking now made more money than drug trafficking. Often, illegal workers were hidden in back rooms. If prostitutes were banned in one country they would move to another country or go underground. There were frequent links to organised crime. Pimps encouraged prostitutes to engage in risky sexual behaviour. Women in this situation were in dire straits and the police needed to intervene to assist them. War and poverty often encouraged women to take up prostitution and there needed to be a focus on these issues in the countries of origin. Clearer rules were required and the report offered a sound basis for future action.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. The last speaker is Mrs Čurdová.

Mrs ČURDOVÁ (Czech Republic). – Dear colleagues, may I begin by stating that it is very important to speak about the importance of the phenomena of prostitution, forced prostitution and child exploitation for sexual purposes? I thank the rapporteur for his good report, which analyses the situation and outlines different approaches by member states in the Council of Europe. However, the main purpose of any report that we adopt is to send an explicit message to society, so it is crucial that we adopt a clear standpoint on the issue.

The report explores four different approaches adopted by member countries in the Council of Europe, ranging from abolition to regulation. The Czech Republic is among countries where prostitution is not regulated by law but can be subject to local measures. Although there are not many political discussions on the subject, prostitution represents a problem, as the Czech Republic is a country of transition as well as a final destination for prostitutes from eastern Europe. If we want to fight the problem effectively, we have to start by asking ourselves why people, mostly women, are forced to sell their bodies. Some of them do so voluntarily, but for the most part women are forced to prostitute themselves because of deplorable economic and social conditions.

As stated in the report, trafficking in human beings for sexual purposes and forced prostitution should be condemned as modern-day slavery. They are one of the most serious violations of human rights and must be seen in a European and worldwide context. We must find ways to protect the victims, prosecute the criminals responsible and make the public aware of the problem.

The rapporteur draws a distinction between forced and voluntary prostitution. I believe that the line between the two is very narrow and can be easily blurred. The message from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should therefore be clear, and not open to alternative interpretations. We should never forget that what is at stake is the future of our children. The human body should not be treated as merchandise, and our deeds should be based on the basic principle of mutual respect. I am not so optimistic as to think that we will succeed in eradicating prostitution altogether. However, as we know, what is not forbidden is allowed, and that gives rise to abuse.

Thank you for your attention.

THE PRESIDENT. – I must now interrupt the list of speakers. The speeches of members on the speakers list who have been present during the debate but have not been able to speak may be given to the Table Office for publication in the official report.

I call Mr Platvoet, the rapporteur, to reply. You have four minutes.

Mr PLATVOET (Netherlands). – Thank you, Mr President. First, I want to thank all my colleagues who took part in this debate, not merely from politeness but because they made strong contributions on most of the issues that I addressed. Several speakers, including Mrs Nakashidzé from Georgia, praised me for my courage in producing this report. However, having been a member of Amsterdam city council for a number of years, it is not very difficult for me to discuss this subject. May I tell Mrs Err that it is not the case at all that I am idealising prostitution? She said, for instance, that there has been a clean-up in the red light district, but that is not quite the case. Criminal organisations owned 12 buildings where prostitutes used to sit in the windows. Those buildings were bought by a social housing company, and I think that that is a good thing. I want to stress that we can legalise prostitution but that does not mean that all the problems disappear. We need strong policy in many fields to prevent prostitution from going underground.

Some speakers have said that there is a thin line between voluntary prostitution and forced prostitution. I think that that is true, but there is still voluntary prostitution. Mrs Rupprecht, Mrs Graf and others emphasised that voluntary prostitution occurs, but that does not mean that the circumstances are always good. However, let us be honest about the issue. Consider someone who is engaged in very dull work in a factory for many years. That person also does not have the choice of doing other work. The issue does not only concern prostitution, because it is a more general problem.

Mrs Meulenbelt, Mrs Papadopoulos and Mrs Čurdová have pointed out – I strongly underline this – that women are not only victims and that we must empower them, which is part of our proposals. If we do so, it is important that we have a strong local government policy towards the pimps and criminals who are behind prostitution and, in particular, forced prostitution.

Some colleagues have emphasised the economic power of prostitution, given the sums of money involved. I have not paid much attention to that issue, because I want to emphasis that it is important to prevent prostitution going further underground. It is important that the member states of the Council of Europe follow the proposals, which will lead to a more open discussion and policy on the human rights of prostitutes.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mrs Bilgehan.

Mrs BİLGEHAN (Turkey) said that delegates held different views on this matter. The report had been adopted by the committee despite some reticence. She was glad that it had been well received by the Assembly. Forced prostitution and trafficking was a form of modern slavery and needed to be condemned. The prostitution of minors was completely unacceptable. Attitudes varied in the case of voluntary prostitution by women aged over 18 who had “chosen” to engage in the activity. Sweden was the only European country that could be said to have taken an abolitionist approach. Discrimination had to be avoided and rules sometimes pushed prostitution underground, leaving women in the arms of pimps.

The underlying causes of prostitution needed to be addressed so that women were not forced into the activity. Action should not be moralistic and individual choices had to be respected so long as they did not harm other people. To answer the question “which stance to take?”, her recommendation was a pragmatic approach with respect for human dignity. She thanked Mr Platvoet for his work on this report as well as elsewhere in the Council of Europe, as she understood that he would shortly be leaving the Assembly. She commended his report to the Assembly.

THE PRESIDENT. – Knowing Mr Platvoet very well, I think that he thinks it the most natural thing in the world to introduce this report and, as he has said, that it did not take any courage.

The debate is closed.

The Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men has presented a draft resolution and draft recommendation in Document 11352, to which no amendments have been tabled, which tends to suggest strong support for the report.

We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 11352. A simple majority is required.

The vote is open.

The draft resolution in Document 11352 is adopted, with 53 votes for, 11 against and 5 abstentions.

We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft recommendation contained in Document 11352. A two-thirds majority is required.

The vote is open.

The draft recommendation in Document 11352 is adopted with 50 votes for, 9 against and 7 abstentions.

      (Mr Prescott, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Jurgens)

6. The dangers of creationism in education

      THE PRESIDENT. – The next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report on the dangers of creationism in education presented by Mrs Brasseur on behalf of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education (Document 11375).

      The list of speakers, which has been distributed, closed at noon, and eight amendments and three sub-amendments have been tabled. I remind you that we have already agreed that we shall interrupt the list of speakers at about 6 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote.

      I call Mrs Brasseur, the rapporteur. You have eight minutes.

      Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) read a statement from the Committee on Culture, Science and Education which said that it was not the intention of the committee or the rapporteur to challenge any religion or belief but rather to call attention to the growing movement that aimed to pass off creationism as science and to teach it in science lessons.

      She continued by quoting from “The Atlas on Creation” which stated that Darwinism was the basis of terrorism, and had fed racism and Nazism. This was a high-quality publication which would eventually number seven volumes in total. It was being distributed in French and English language versions to all schools and universities in Europe. The book sought to prove that evolution was a lie imported by Freud, Marx and Darwin.

      Although there was, of course, a plethora of different creationist trends, some creationists read the Bible literally. There were even moves under way in the United States to found a museum that would chart the history of the earth as being only 6 000 years old. Those creationists claimed that changes perceived on the earth were not the result of evolution, but were willed by God. Such people were trying to bring the realm of belief into the body of science in order to discredit Darwin’s theory of evolution.

      The committee’s report aimed to emphasise that the teaching of belief as science was unacceptable. She thanked the rapporteur of the original draft of the report for his guidance and advice. She did not wish to go into the reasons as to why it had been necessary for the committee to redraft the report, but she noted that only one vote had been recorded against the report when it was considered in June. The current version of the report had been adopted unanimously in committee on 14 September.

      She reiterated that the purpose of the report was not to challenge belief, because freedom of belief prohibited such action. However, it was essential that belief should not counter science. She invited the Assembly to adopt the draft resolution by a substantial majority in order to end the rampant trend towards whereby creationism being taught in a science lesson.

      THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mr Rossi on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.

      Mr ROSSI (San Marino) said that, since 9/11, the western lifestyle had been attacked by uncertainty and crisis. The promotion of the theory of intelligent design was partly a reaction to this and could be seen as an attack on western, and in particular Christian, belief. The attempts within the United States and Europe to designate intelligent design as a scientific theory within the school curriculum was gravely unacceptable.

      Although he was not able to evaluate the ins and outs of creationist ideas, he considered it to be an unpleasant philosophy. At the same time, the group which he represented was against the report and the draft resolution, which he considered to be ill-thought-out and reactionary. The recent Episcopal conference had discussed creationism in schools and had sent a message to members of the Assembly asking them to vote against the report.

      It was important to teach proper structured science first and to expound religious beliefs in a separate and different manner. He hoped the Assembly would undertake a proper discussion on the subject and reach a balanced conclusion.

THE PRESIDENT. – I call Mr Johansson on behalf of the Socialist Group.

Mr JOHANSSON (Sweden). – I congratulate the rapporteurs, Mrs Brasseur and Mr Lengagne, on an excellent report. The Socialist Group believes that it is good that it has finally reached the Assembly after the unfortunate events in June.

The report is important. It is groundbreaking and takes up an old debate that is suddenly on the European agenda again.

Since the presentation of the theory of evolution in the 19th century, the evidence supporting it has turned out to be overwhelming. It is one of the scientific bases of our knowledge of nature and has turned out to be an extremely useful tool for making this world a better place. Modern medicine would have been impossible without the foundation laid by the research into the theory of evolution.

However, religious fundamentalists are now challenging the theory of evolution, which is said to come into conflict with their religious beliefs. Are they right? Is there conflict? That depends on one’s interpretation of the Bible or the Koran. If you read them as biology books, of course there is a conflict. However, if one gives the text a symbolic meaning, there is no need for the scientific and religious communities to fight about the matter. That is the view of most mainstream religious leaders and most ordinary Christians and Muslims. They realise that the theory of evolution does not have to conflict with their religious beliefs.

Our debate is therefore not about being for or against religion. It is about being for or against fundamentalism. There, believers and non-believers are on the same side and against those who want to impose a fundamentalist approach on European schools. The debate is not about mocking religion. It is about maintaining the separation between science and religion and acknowledging that they work in different spheres.

However, the debate is raising its head again in Europe, stimulated by several fundamentalist groups. The report takes up events in France, Switzerland, Belgium, Poland, Russia, Italy, the United Kingdom and many other countries. Harun Yahya and his “Atlas of Creation” is perhaps the most spectacular aspect, but much more is happening. A fundamentalist campaign against the theory of evolution is being directed at schools, teachers and policy makers. Its goal is to make room for creationism or intelligent design in the biology classes of Europe, despite the fact that there is no scientific basis for those ideas.

The most intransigent supporters of creationism believe that the earth is only 6 000 years old and that dinosaurs and human beings once lived side by side. We can laugh about that. However, when we hear that 64% of Americans favour teaching intelligent design alongside evolution, and that 38% of them support abandoning the teaching of evolution in publicly owned schools, that is not so funny. When we hear education ministers in European countries questioning evolution, we realise that the fundamentalist campaign has had an impact.

Is our discussion about human rights? Amendment No. 3 wants to remove that reference from the resolution. However, I believe that we should retain that sentence because our debate is about human rights. Every child has the right to hear what science has so far revealed about the world. It is not up to parents to decide. As a parent, one often feels that children are a wonderful gift. In some respects they are a gift, but we do not own them. They are individuals, with their own rights. They have the right to explore the world and hear what science has to say about nature, mankind and the universe. Every child has the right to seek its own answers to the deep philosophical and existential questions.

The creationists are threatening those rights. To some extent, they have succeeded in the United States. We should not let them succeed in Europe. Thank you again for an excellent report, written at the right time.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mrs Bemelmans-Videc on behalf of the Group of the European People's Party.

Mrs BEMELMANS-VIDEC (Netherlands). – From the basic tenor of the report, one might conclude that we need a dialogue not only between religions but between science and religion. The report has education policy as its main target – the necessity to help new generations discern the difference between scientific and religious insights and beliefs.

Creationism presents itself in many forms and disguises. That applies to intelligent design. It is therefore difficult to know exactly what and whose ideas we are addressing, since the report sweeps them all into one big heap, forming one big threat. Let me make it clear that we feel that some brands of creationism show naїvety in claiming a scientific status that they obviously do not have.

However, we believe that the report has an important weakness in that there is insufficient foundation for its main claims, namely that creationism is a threat to human rights and democracy because it threatens to replace democracy with theocracy. The report’s reasoning would require far greater scientific rigour to provide a foundation for such horrific claims.

Let me focus on the basic issues. John Paul II said: “Truth cannot contradict truth”. Indeed, science and religion each present a truth: the truth of nature and revealed truth. They complement each other and do not necessarily exclude one another. Thus, the scientific view of the evolution of life does not necessarily conflict with religious ideas about origin, evolution and the meaning of life. A religious person will perceive evolution as a wondrous part of God’s creation.

He or she will, however, believe that they are different from other living beings by virtue of their spiritual soul, which was not generated simply by natural reproduction but created by God.

As for education policy, yes, we need to instruct our students, with scientific rigour, in the material laws of evolution in biology class. However, scientific education needs to be complemented. We need to instil the student with a sense of the spiritual dimension of human nature, to explain his interior provenance – his essence – which cannot be explained by random evolutionary processes. That teaching, preferably, should take place in religion class and should provide the student with a moral compass, for in the Darwinian evolutionary concept there is no intrinsic value in living or dying, altruism or egoism. Justice, our central value in this Chamber, is truly more than something that emanates from the strength of the fittest.

To conclude, Mr President, dear colleagues, one could have wished that the report was written in that more constructive spirit, or not written at all.

THE PRESIDENT. – I call Mr Eörsi on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.

Mr EÖRSI (Hungary). – Mr President, if I drop my pen it falls and, as I used to try to explain to my children when they were small, that is because of gravity – because a bigger body has a stronger pull than a smaller body. My children embarrassed me when I said things like that by asking for evidence that I was often unable to provide. However, we all know that there is scientific evidence for gravity.

When it comes to creationism versus evolution, I might be unable to give my children supporting evidence, but in this Chamber we all know, even with the questions associated with the report, that there is unquestionable scientific evidence for evolution versus creationism. Evolution is not the only aspect of science that has been called into question in this Assembly. The Holocaust was called into question by that non-fine European David Irving and by the Iranian President. Earlier this week, the nature of homosexuality was questioned by Patriarch Alexy II, so the problem is not unique. However, I am still convinced that the vast majority of members of the Assembly believe in scientific evidence and results when it comes to evolution, the Holocaust or the nature of homosexuality.

I shall not repeat what my colleagues have said. Like me, I am sure that they were bombarded by a huge number of e-mails whose senders expressed opposition to the report and tried to pretend that creationism is scientifically equal to evolution. We have to say clearly that is not true. Evolution is a theory and creationism is a theory. I can accept what the previous speaker said – some people believe the creation story – but it is important to note that, scientifically, only evolution is proven.

The e-mails, strangely enough, referred to freedom of expression. I found that weird because I come from a former communist country where we used to say that in the east we had freedom of expression, but in the west you had freedom after expression. Nobody will punish anybody who speaks up for creationism. The problem is not whether people can maintain the theory – even children. If parents send their children to a school where creationism is studied, I regret it, but I cannot say they should not do so. Why would I prevent anybody from teaching children bad things?

However, we are talking about public schools, which are financed by public money. We do not want our children to be imbeciles. We want them to know how life comes about and to be prepared to take part in that huge competition where knowledge is vital for success. If we want them to be successful we must support Anne Brasseur and her report.

THE PRESIDENT. – I call Ms Bjarnadóttir on behalf of the European Democrat Group.

Ms BJARNADÓTTIR (Iceland). – Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I speak on behalf of the EDG. I want to give some brief background for my remarks. I am new to the Parliamentary Assembly and have not followed the development of the report, so I admit that I was surprised to see it on the agenda.

I have a mixed view regarding the report: on the one hand, I have a hard time supporting it as a matter of principle, and on the other hand I can support much of its content and conclusions. I shall explain.

On principle, I strongly believe that debates on educational policy and curriculum development belong to the governments or educational authorities in our respective member states, not to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. However, in respect of the content and conclusions of the report, I agree with the rapporteur that religion and science represent two different and quite separate world views. Creationism belongs to the former and evolution to the latter, and we must distinguish the two.

In this context, it may be appropriate to refer to the late philosopher of science, Dr Thomas Kuhn, who in 1962 wrote his famous work on the structure of scientific revolution. He introduced the idea of paradigm shift as an evolutionary explanation of scientific development. His idea has been fruitful in science, and, in my opinion, it could be helpful in our current debate. Religion and science can be viewed as two separate paradigms, as they have two completely different sets of rules, protocols and methods. Religion has its ideology, beliefs and faith, while science has its methodology, its objective approach and its empirical knowledge. Both paradigms have their place; they can, and have, co-existed in our cultures and education systems. By the same token, religion belongs to the private sphere, while science belongs to the public sphere, as manifested by the separation between church and state in most of our countries.

Scientific research, with its devotion to validity and reliability, has been the cornerstone of progress in many aspects of our societies over the past century. In future, we are likely to see a much faster pace of scientific development, with a growing number of individuals devoting their careers to research and science. Scientific research is the primary pillar of our universities. Many of our nations have set aggressive goals for university research and education; for example, in terms of quality standards and the percentage of the population completing university degrees.

From reading the report, I did not get a good sense, from a scientific standpoint, of how widespread the idea of creationism is in our member countries.

However, in August 2006, a multinational study entitled “Public Acceptance of Evolution” was published in Science. The study was conducted in the United States, Japan and most of the European countries. The results showed that public acceptance of evolution was most prevalent in Iceland, Denmark and Sweden, where 80% of the population accepted evolution, and that it was lowest in Turkey, where 25% of the population accepted evolution.

On a final note, I have mixed views about the report, but if indeed creationism is having a growing influence in Europe, and if it poses a real threat to human rights, the warning presented in the report is warranted.

THE PRESIDENT. – I call Mr Wach.

Mr WACH (Poland). – The draft resolution has several weak points that can be clearly criticised. The first is the report’s title, which is directed against creationism. It would be much better if it were called “The Honest Teaching of Evolution”, something that no one should be afraid of. Creationism is a matter of beliefs, while evolution is, or tries to be, a precise science based on research and experimental results. However, it is appropriate and clever that the positions on evolution of the last two Popes of the Catholic Church are presented in the report. It is also worth supporting the resolution when it urges education authorities to present evolution in an honest and scientifically based way.

The explanatory memorandum is widely drafted, and some of its components should be disputed. I am referring to Mr Lengagne’s original text. Evolution is more useful as an explanation of the existence of simple and quickly multiplying organisms. They are the palpable proofs of it. However, it is much more difficult to prove evolution with more developed and complex organisms, especially mammals.

Paragraph 13 of the original report said that “the human being is just one of the links in the long chain of evolution.” That is merely a statement. There is no convincing explanation for it. It would be more suitable to defend the principle that the physical structure of human beings is similar to that of all mammals and that their physiological functioning happens in the same way. However, it does not justify the great distinction between the level of development in humans and even the most developed mammals, such as apes. That is one of the principal problems with teaching evolution.

When the opposing sides discuss human beings, they become more emotional and are more likely to make statements that go beyond proven knowledge. It is necessary to be honest and say that evolution tends to be a rigorous, and to a great extent experimental, science, but that not all problems can be explained by it. Research is still being undertaken to collect evidence that addresses people’s doubts. The other principal problem in accepting and teaching evolution is that, in biological terms, it shows a continuous struggle for survival and does not provide any place for the “soft” humanistic feelings and efforts that characterise people. There are major differences between humans and animals that go beyond the weight of the brain and other simple physical characteristics. In my opinion, it is difficult to support the report because it is not well grounded.

THE PRESIDENT. – I call Mr Jurgens.

Mr JURGENS (Netherlands). – I must apologise to you, Mr President, because when I spoke before you on Tuesday I said that it was the last time that I would speak in the Parliamentary Assembly. I did not realise at the time that I would be speaking again.

It is right to question whether the subject should be on the agenda. However, the committee has put it before us and thinks that it is useful to discuss it. Therefore, we should accept it as it is. Mrs Brasseur has been courageous in taking it upon herself to present the report to us again. Paragraph 18 is the most important paragraph. All the others merely lead up to it. If you are leading up to a scientific conclusion, your case should be sober and not overstated, but if people feel strongly about something, it often happens that they overstate their case and spoil their argument. I am afraid that that is the case with this resolution, although I favour it. I come from the Christian tradition and have no problem with science and religion existing next to each other. However, as a lawyer I have a problem with the resolution.

I disagree with my colleague, Mr Johansson, about paragraph 1. He said that creationism could threaten human rights. I am a human rights lawyer and I do not understand how that could be the case. It could threaten the mental health of society. That is an important point, although not a matter of human rights. I have the same problem with paragraph 11, which states: “The total rejection of science is definitely one of the most serious threats to human rights and civic rights.” I would say that the total rejection of science is sheer stupidity, and we do not have to combat stupidity in this Assembly. Instead, we have to see to it that children are told the right things in biology classes. That is why I completely agree with paragraph 18.

Perhaps in those two paragraphs, Mr Lengagne, who probably formulated them, overstated his case, and thereby did not strengthen it. Mrs Bemelmans-Videc referred to paragraph 12 and the idea that creationism is out to replace democracy with theocracy. Well, well, well! We would have to go much further before that happens in Europe. I would not make such claims because it would spoil my argument. I would rather forget those parts of the report. I notice that Mr Schmied and others have proposed amendments to remedy them. The most important thing is that we agree on paragraph 18, because that is at the centre of the report. I strongly support that paragraph.

THE PRESIDENT. – I call Baroness Hooper.

Baroness HOOPER (United Kingdom). – Like others, I have received numerous representations on the report and requests to vote against it on the grounds that it threatens freedom of speech. I deplore the fact that there is evidence of extremist views on both sides of the argument. As has been said, the language of the original version was too strong. One of the organisations that wrote to me said: “the report portrays an extreme battle in which democracy, human rights, scientific and medical research and the future of society are at stake.” In fact, the report is not about religion but about fundamentalism, and on that point I agree very much with Mr Rossi.

I congratulate Mrs Brasseur on lowering the temperature by taking the approach that she has, and thank her for taking on the report from Mr Lengagne at a difficult stage. In the light of the changes that have been made to the resolution, the Assembly was justified in withdrawing the report from the June agenda and allowing it to be modified. Even so, I agree with those who think that the report’s title is loaded. Even the summary on the title page indicates a polarised view, which perhaps starts people off on the wrong foot.

However, as is so often the case, the nub of the problem is the definition of creationism. It seems to me that it means very different things to very different people. The use of the word in the context of this report is not the historic interpretation of God’s creation of the world and of human beings to people it, to which I, as a practising Catholic, subscribe. As the rapporteur explained, the creationism to which the report refers has been developed more recently and claims to rank creationism as a science subject for use in schools. It also disclaims totally the theory of evolution. That is absurd. We cannot and should not put the clock back.

It is also necessary to emphasise that evolution and creation are not opposed to each other; nor are they incompatible. That is what I was taught in a Catholic convent school, albeit a long time ago. Neither creationism nor intelligent design is a recognised scientific theory. As such, they do not meet the requirements of the national curriculum as agreed by my parliament. The intention is that pupils should be offered a balanced presentation of opposing views. In that context, we expect teachers to answer pupils’ questions about creationism, intelligent design and other religious beliefs within a scientific framework.

There is also scope for young people to be taught creationism and for them to discuss it in religious education, which is a component of the school curriculum.

In conclusion, this is a subject for a free vote, and I hope that colleagues will consider all the arguments raised both by the report and in this debate, and that that will result in a sensible and moderate solution.

THE PRESIDENT. – I call Mr Pollozhani.

Mr POLLOZHANI (“the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”). – Distinguished parliamentarians, the report has produced a genuine debate, and opened the possibility of airing different arguments on the topic. That is not surprising, bearing in mind the sensitivity and complexity of the issue. As a result of debate, we came up with a realistic report, and I want to underline the contribution of the previous rapporteur, Mr Lengagne, the present rapporteur, Mrs Brasseur and the Committee on Culture, Science and Education. To avoid misunderstanding, three aspects of the subject should be clarified. First, the cultural dimension is a matter of the right to freedom of belief. The right of belief is a fundamental right, and no one should be deprived of it. That remains a clear dimension of creationism, which is underlined in the report.

The second important aspect is the scientific approach. We should make a distinction between belief and science. Being aware of the difference between them, we should be able to find a way for them to co-exist. The third aspect of creationism from the committee’s perspective is the educational one. That is an important part of the report and, as stated in paragraph 6, we should not confuse children with different aspects of the question: we must stick to scientific theory. That is necessary for that age group, not only in relation to the question of creationism but for the children’s overall development. Bearing in mind recent developments and the social implications of promoting creationism in schools, it is right to say that such phenomena threaten the work of democratic development. Some people are motivated by the intention to impose more theocratic elements in society and thus shrink and compress secularism as a fundamental element of modern democracy.

I must stress, however, that we do not oppose the need to teach people about culture and religion. The report is not against the freedom of expression and individual beliefs, including the concept of creationism as a belief. Nevertheless, creationism cannot claim scientific respectability, as stated in paragraph 15 of the report. For all those reasons, I believe that the report is balanced, comprehensive, and thus necessary for the further development of democracy.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mr Fischer.

Mr FISCHER (Germany) said that this report on the dangers of creationism did not protect Europe from any kind of threat. If it were accepted, the state would be allowed to interfere in personal affairs. Europe was marked by a diversity of faiths and peaceful co-existence. This was a good basis for society. It was not possible simply to prohibit certain theories. Different ideas had to be taught in schools. The report stated that creationism was a threat and needed to be banned. This was easy to say, but it did not actually threaten any community. The proposals in the report were very vague, particularly about the danger to children. Children needed to be allowed to find out about different theories and to think for themselves. Any state that banned the teaching of certain ideas would be guilty of heavy-handed behaviour.

There was nothing wrong with giving children a brief introduction to the idea of creationism alongside other theories. This was certainly not a threat. If the report were approved, its provisions would need to be implemented. This would be very difficult. Schools could not simply remain silent about such issues. The Pope had said that religious theories should not merely be treated as pure hypotheses. People needed to consider the future of mankind and explanations of how humans developed. Within this area, there were various competing theories, one of which was creationism. It was unjustifiable to ban one or other of these theories. Instead, people had to choose their own beliefs. He urged members to reject the report.

THE PRESIDENT. – I call Mrs Kiuru.

Mrs KIURU (Finland). – The report by Mrs Anne Brasseur and Mr Guy Lengage introduces creationism and the principles of evolution. First, I should like to express a minor concern about the terminology used in the report. We should not speak about the theory of evolution as such but about the synthetic theory of evolution, which is the prevailing concept in evolution.

What are the basic principles on which we should encourage schools to focus? Heredity, mutation, and natural selection can be proved to have a basis in observation. Creationism can be proved to have a basis in belief. Creationism is a relevant view for many people and it should not be overlooked.

However, evolution, as a scientific view, should not be overlooked in education, too. The purpose of a universal educational system is to teach children and young people to become critical, curious and independent citizens. A comprehensive and equal education system is a human right, and it benefits societies in terms of development and human capital. The creationist view should be introduced in schools, as is currently done, but in the correct context, which is religious, not scientific. The theory of evolution is based on the theory of truth; creationism, in any of its forms, is not. Therefore, we should not teach creationism as a scientific discipline.

However, another question remains. It is notable that we can affect the principles of education in public schools and promote the teaching of evolution as a fundamental scientific theory in the school curriculum. We must, however, understand that our means of influencing teaching in private schools are limited. We can only make recommendations, which are not always mandatory. Before we can truly influence private school teaching, a lot should be done. New instruments might be needed in order to ensure that private schools are not teaching creationism as scientific truth to their pupils. In cases where private schools enjoy some kind of public funding, the conditions could be set more strongly. In addition, new monitoring mechanisms should be created.

In brief, let us support comprehensive teaching in religion. In the name of freedom of expression and individual belief, creationist ideas or other religious beliefs could be presented as an addition to cultural and religious education – after all, that is everybody’s right – but they cannot claim scientific respectability. In short, let us support the creationist view in the religious context, and let us strongly support evolution in the scientific context.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mr Linblad.

Mr LINBLAD (Sweden). – I congratulate the two rapporteurs and the committee on the report, which is very good given the circumstances. Having said that, however, I am not sure whether we should have taken the report in the Parliamentary Assembly, but that is another matter. Now that it is here, I fully support it.

The issue involves fighting against fundamentalism and tendencies in society aimed at taking over our thinking. People want to stop us expressing our views. Whether it is a cartoon of Mohammed portrayed as a dog or whether it is something else, we must be careful to fight off such tendencies in society. We must stand on a scientific platform. Freedom of speech and expression go hand in hand with the absolute need to have a scientific platform in education.

On genetics, many people have said that creationism is scientific – I have received the e-mails, too – but that is nonsense and mumbo-jumbo. If one looks at one’s children, they usually look like their mother or their father, so genetics are very strong. Almost all of us know who our mother is, and most of us think that we know who our father is, but that can easily be checked with a genetic test. Genetics are part of our lives these days, and they are very important. We must be careful that the next belief that we allow into our schools is not tarot cards or fortune tellers, which would take us back to the middle ages.

I have a story from real life. I am a practising dentist. A little while ago, a TV programme checked the prices at dental clinics. The prices differed, but the programme also found a dentist in Dalarna who made her assistant put his hand in the patient’s mouth while she held the assistant’s hand. By that means, the dentist decided whether something was wrong and whether to extract teeth. There was no science. Who would like to go to a dentist like that? I would not like to – of course, that dentist’s licence was revoked.

Let us be on the scientific platform when it comes to educating our children.

THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you. I call Mr Kawa.

Mr KAWA (Poland). – I want to express my disappointment at the title of the report, which discriminates against other points of view. I assume that the authors of such reports find it hard to accept that the theory of evolution can be questioned and undermined because of its insufficiency.

I cannot accept the illogical opinion presented in the report that “creationism could become a threat to human rights”. Based on such a wrong conclusion, we could say that the United States, where creationism is openly taught in some schools, is undemocratic and lacking in human rights.

Despite today’s one-sided report, the debate on the theory will not collapse – it is widespread in the United States and it is increasing in Europe. We cannot run away from that debate. Children in schools must know that the issue is debateable and what the debate is about. In the name of freedom of expression and scholarly dialogue, creationist ideas should be presented objectively like many other cosmological and ontological theories.

Evolution should be presented in schools as a scientific theory pending confirmation, and as a theory that has both supporters and opponents. What is more, the arguments for and against the theory should be presented fairly. Pupils must be taught how to evaluate data and how to debate a controversial issue – they must be taught to think on their own. The teaching process should not only depend on the feeding of facts.

In fact, there are two debates. One is ideological, and the other is scientific. The ideological confrontation has two sides which are very strongly motivated by their respective world views. Atheists believe – I insist on the word “believe” – in evolution, because they needed to justify their atheism. On the other side, there are the creationists, who are believers in God the creator who made everything from nothing by his own will. I also include the supporters of intelligent design in that category – evolution disrupts their view of the creation process. That ideological debate is completely entrenched, and no amount of words will settle the issue.

The other debate is between scientists. There are those who see in the available evidence a process of transformation from one species to another – from simple organisms to more complex ones; from few types to many types. Their opponents consider the evidence to be totally inadequate. For them, the evidence points to stasis, stability of life forms or even to a process in the opposite direction – to devolution, and to the constant reduction and erosion of information in the biosphere.

The scientific debate on the theory of evolution should be presented in all types of schools. Pupils should know that scientists differ in their views and, in particular, that they confront each other on the issue of evolution. Every discovery and every observation must be subject to full scientific scrutiny and evaluated on its empirical merits alone.

I appeal to all those who are responsible for determining school curriculums in Europe impartially to present the debate on Darwinian evolution.

THE PRESIDENT. – I must now interrupt the list of speakers. The speeches of members on the speakers list who have been present during the debate but have not been able to speak may be given to the Table Office for publication in the official report.

Does the chairperson of the committee, Mr Legendre, wish to speak? You have two minutes.

Mr LEGENDRE (France) said that, given the onus on the committee to consider cultural matters, the committee had considered it appropriate to inquire into intercultural dialogues that involved religious issues. He wanted to be clear that it was fully appropriate for creationism to be a component of religious studies and for evolutionary theory to be a part of scientific teaching. However, the committee was emphatic that there needed to be a distinction in schools between the teaching of religious and scientific subjects. It was the duty of the Assembly to consider the draft resolution and the proposed amendments. He informed the Assembly that the committee had agreed to support some of the amendments proposed.

THE PRESIDENT. – I now call Mrs Brasseur, the rapporteur, to respond to the debate.

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) thanked all members who had spoken in the debate for speaking with such serenity on the subject before it. The majority of the speakers had stated that there should be a clear distinction between the teaching of scientific theory and religious belief. She wished to reassure members that the report was in no way an attack upon those with religious views. Furthermore, the report did not call for the prohibition on the teaching of religious views such as creationism in schools. Indeed, in the preamble to the report, she had written that scientific and religious teachings should complement each other and not co–exist in an antagonistic fashion.

She appealed to the Assembly to vote in favour of the draft resolution and those amendments that the committee had agreed to support.

THE PRESIDENT. – The debate is closed.

The Committee on Culture, Science and Education has presented a draft resolution in Document 11375 to which eight amendments and three sub-amendments have been tabled. They will be taken in the order set out in the notice paper.

I remind the Assembly that speeches on amendments are limited to one minute.

We now come to Amendment No. 1, tabled by Mr Walter Schmied, Mr Tim Boswell, Mr Christopher Chope, Mr Bernard Marquet, Baroness Knight of Collingtree, which is, in the draft resolution, before paragraph 1, add the following paragraph:

“The aim of this report is not to question or to fight a belief – the right to freedom of belief does not permit that. The aim is to warn against certain tendencies to pass off a belief as science.”

I call Mr Schmied to support Amendment No. 1.

Mr SCHMIED (Switzerland) thanked the rapporteur for her spirit of openness and for the constructive manner in which she had considered his amendments. He wished to speak on Amendment No. 1 and No. 2, which sought to define creationism. The text proposed originated from a memorandum prepared by the rapporteur.

THE PRESIDENT. – We now come to Sub-amendment No. 1 to Amendment No. 1, tabled by Mrs Anne Brasseur, on behalf of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, which is, at the end of Amendment No. 1, add the following words:

“It is necessary to separate belief from science. It is not a matter of antagonism. Science and belief must be able to coexist. It is not a matter of opposing belief and science, but it is necessary to prevent belief from opposing science.”

I must inform you that if this sub-amendment is accepted, and the amendment, as amended, is agreed to, then Amendment No. 2 will fall.

I call Mrs Brasseur to support Sub-amendment No. 1 on behalf of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education.

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) said that the committee wished to propose Sub-amendment No. 1, which sought to consolidate Amendment No. 1 and No. 2 into a single paragraph.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? That is not the case.

What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment?

Mr SCHMIED (Switzerland) (Translation). – In favour.

THE PRESIDENT. – The vote is open.

The sub-amendment is adopted.

Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment No. 1, as amended? That is not the case.

The opinion of the committee has already been made clear.

The vote is open.

Amendment No. 1, as amended, is adopted.

Amendment No. 2 therefore falls.

We come to Amendment No. 3, tabled by Mr Walter Schmied, Mr Tim Boswell, Mr Christopher Chope, Mr Bernard Marquet, Baroness Knight of Collingtree, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 1, delete the words “If we are not careful, creationism could become a threat to human rights which are a key concern of the Council of Europe.”

I call Mr Schmied to support Amendment No. 3.

Mr SCHMIED (Switzerland) said the amendment would simply delete the last sentence of paragraph, one which he considered to be repetitive and alarmist.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment?

Mr JOHANSSON (Sweden). – I oppose the amendment because I believe that the reference to human rights is important. There must be a right to know what science says. I therefore believe that the reference should be retained.

THE PRESIDENT. – What is the opinion of the committee?

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) thanked Mr Schmied for his constructive comments and amendments, and said that although the committee had been able to adopt many of his amendments, it had rejected Amendment No. 3 by a large majority.

THE PRESIDENT. – The vote is open.

Amendment No. 3 is rejected.

We come to Amendment No. 4, tabled by Mr Walter Schmied, Mr Tim Boswell, Mr Christopher Chope, Mr Bernard Marquet, Baroness Knight of Collingtree, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 5, replace the words “, the better to impose religious dogma, are attacking the very core of the knowledge that we have patiently built up on” with the following words:

“challenge established knowledge about”.

I call Mr Schmied to support Amendment No. 4.

Mr SCHMIED (Switzerland) said that Amendment No. 4 sought not to change the content of paragraph 5 but to introduce more explicit wording.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? That is not the case.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) (Translation). – In favour.

THE PRESIDENT. – The vote is open.

Amendment No. 4 is adopted.

I have received an oral amendment from Mrs Brasseur on behalf of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, which reads as follows:

In the draft resolution, in paragraph 6, delete from the words “,and of” to the end of the paragraph, and replace with the following words:

“. An ‘all things are equal’ attitude may seem appealing and tolerant, but is in fact dangerous”.

I remind the Assembly of Rule 34, which enables the President to accept an oral amendment or sub-amendment on the grounds of promoting clarity, accuracy or conciliation and if there is no opposition from 10 or more members to it being debated.

In my opinion, the oral amendment meets the criteria of Rule 34.6.

I must inform you that if this oral amendment is agreed to, Amendment No. 5 will fall.

Is there any opposition to the amendment being debated?

That is not the case. I therefore call Mrs Brasseur to support oral Amendment No. 1. You have one minute.

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) said that she did not need to elucidate further on the oral amendment as the President had explained it clearly.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the oral amendment? That is not the case.

The committee is obviously in favour.

The vote is open.

The oral amendment is agreed to.

Amendment No. 5 therefore falls.

We come to Amendment No. 6, tabled by Mr Walter Schmied, Mr Tim Boswell, Mr Christopher Chope, Mr Bernard Marquet, Baroness Knight of Collingtree, which is, in the draft resolution, delete paragraph 7.

I must inform the Assembly that if Amendment No. 6 is agreed, Amendment No. 8 will fall.

I call Mr Schmied to support Amendment No. 6.

Mr SCHMIED (Switzerland) said that he wished to discuss Amendment No. 8 at the same time as introducing Amendment No. 6. Amendment No. 6 sought to delete paragraph 7 from the draft resolution. However, Amendment No. 8 was a compromise amendment drafted by himself and the rapporteur as a possible alternative to Amendment No. 6 and he favoured adoption of Amendment No. 8 over No. 6.

THE PRESIDENT. – We seem to be in a little difficulty. You ask me to withdraw Amendment No. 6 on the basis that members would vote for Amendment No. 8. I cannot know until we come to that amendment how members will vote. I shall call the rapporteur, Mrs Brasseur, to explain.

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) proposed that Mr Schmied be given the right to withdraw Amendment No. 6.

THE PRESIDENT. – I hope that we can go along with that. I need to keep in order with procedure, so we shall have to keep trusting each other. I understand that Mr Schmied wishes to withdraw Amendment No. 6. Is that the case?

Mr SCHMIED (Switzerland) said that the committee had expressed its agreement to Amendment No. 8, and he wished to withdraw support for Amendment No. 6.

THE PRESIDENT. – Do we agree that Amendment No. 6 should be withdrawn?

Mr SCHMIED (Switzerland) said that he was the author of Amendment No. 6 and he wished to withdraw it.

THE PRESIDENT. – I cannot give a guarantee about Amendment No. 8 until we reach that amendment. I think that the committee has made it clear that it is in favour of it, and I doubt whether anyone would dispute that. However, I must follow the procedure. I call Mr Mota Amaral on a point of order.

Mr MOTA AMARAL (Portugal). –The position of the mover of the amendment is conditional on the committee accepting another amendment, which has been sub-amended by the committee. It would therefore make matters much clearer if we voted on Amendment No. 6 before considering other amendments. The position of the Assembly must be made clear.

THE PRESIDENT. – I thank you for your clarity. However, we are in a position whereby the man who proposed Amendment No. 6 now wants to withdraw it. If the Assembly wants to withdraw it, we can do that. Mr. Schmied, we have your amendment, which you have asked to withdraw. Are we voting on the amendment or its withdrawal? If it is the Assembly’s will, we will vote on Amendment No. 6. However, I cannot promise more about what a committee has done some time ago. This is the Assembly – you decide what happens to the amendment. I therefore propose that we put the amendment to the Assembly. That is the only way in which we can proceed. Mr Schmied, can you help me?

Mr SCHMIED (Switzerland) repeated that he wished to withdraw Amendment No. 6 which was, after all, his amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – It is your amendment, I agree, but we are dealing with the will of the House. I am not completely familiar with your procedure but I am happy to go along with it. The logic is clear – [Interruption.] Wait a minute, I am just trying to go with what I think is the logic of the situation. Once an amendment is moved, it is the property of the Chamber and I do not think members have the right to withdraw it – it is whether the House agrees to that. I think it would be much easier if I put the amendment, the Chamber can vote against it, and we will then go on to Amendment No. 8. The member was trying to withdraw the amendment but it would fall, so we could then follow the proper procedure and vote on Amendment No. 8, which the committee has recommended. Does the Chamber agree that I should put Amendment No. 6 to the vote?

I call Mr Dreyfus-Schmidt on a point of order.

Mr DREYFUS-SCHMIDT (France) stated that he did not understand why the President was opposed to the amendment being withdrawn.

THE PRESIDENT. – I do not see that the Chamber needs to get into an argument about procedure. It would be easier for us to go through our procedure. Is the Chamber prepared to vote against the amendment because Amendment No. 8 will then be carried? God knows what will happen if it is not. Does the Chamber agree that we should vote on Amendment No. 6 and sort things out?

The vote is open.

Amendment No. 6 is rejected.

We come to Amendment No. 8 tabled by Mr Walter Schmied, Mrs Elsa Papadimitriou, Mr Mátyás Eörsi, Mr John Dupraz and Mr Rudi Vis, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 7, after the words “a certain degree of evolution”, replace the words “but claims that this is the work of a superior intelligence. Though more subtle in its presentation, the doctrine of intelligent design is no less dangerous.” with the following words:

“. However, intelligent design, presented in a more subtle way, seeks to portray its approach as scientific, and therein lies the problem.”

I call Mr Schmied to support Amendment No. 8.

Mr SCHMIED (Switzerland) (Translation). – I have nothing to add.

THE PRESIDENT. – We come to Sub-amendment No. 1 tabled by Mrs Anne Brasseur, on behalf of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, which is, in Amendment No. 8, replace the word "problem" with the following word:


I call Mrs Brasseur to support the sub-amendment.

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) said that the committee supported Amendment No. 8. However, it wished to propose a sub-amendment slightly altering the language. It wished to replace the word “problem” with the word “danger”.

THE PRESIDENT. – Are you proposing the sub-amendment?

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) (Translation). – Yes, I am.

THE PRESIDENT. – What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment?

Mr SCHMIED (Switzerland) (Translation). – I agree.

THE PRESIDENT. – The committee is obviously in favour.

The vote is open.

The sub-amendment is adopted.

Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment No. 8, as amended? That is not the case.

What is the opinion of the committee?

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) (Translation). – The committee is in favour.

THE PRESIDENT. – The vote is open.

Amendment No. 8, as amended, is adopted.

We come to Amendment No. 7, tabled by Mr Walter Schmied, Mr Tim Boswell, Mr Christopher Chope, Mr Bernard Marquet and Baroness Knight of Collingtree, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 14, after the words “science syllabus”, insert the following words:

“, and must, like any other theory, be able to stand up to thorough scientific scrutiny”.

I call Mr Schmied to support Amendment No. 7.

Mr SCHMIED (Switzerland) said that he wanted to add a reference to the scientific scrutiny of evolution. It was important that evolution was treated like any other scientific theory.

THE PRESIDENT. – We come to Sub-amendment No. 1 tabled by Mrs Anne Brasseur, on behalf of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education, which is, in Amendment No. 7, replace the words “and must, like any other theory, be” with the following words:

“as long as, like any other theory, it is”.

I call Mrs Brasseur to support the sub-amendment.

Mrs BRASSEUR (Luxembourg) said that the committee agreed with the essence of Mr Schmied’s amendment but it had agreed a slightly different wording, which it had put forward in the sub-amendment.

THE PRESIDENT. – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? That is not the case. What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment?

Mr SCHMIED (Switzerland) said that this version was even better than the one that he had suggested.

THE PRESIDENT. – The committee is obviously in favour.

The vote is open.

The sub-amendment is adopted.

Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment No. 7, as amended? That is not the case.

The committee is obviously in favour.

The vote is open.

Amendment No. 7, as amended, is adopted.

We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 11375, as amended. A simple majority is required.

The vote is open.

The draft resolution in Document 11375, as amended, is adopted, with 48 votes for, 25 against and 3 abstentions.

7. Date, time and orders of the day of the next sitting

THE PRESIDENT. – I propose that the Assembly hold its next public sitting tomorrow at 10 a.m. with the orders of the day which were approved on Monday 1 October.

Are there any objections? That is not the case.

The orders of the day of the next sitting are therefore agreed.

The sitting is closed.

(The sitting was closed at 6.30 p.m.)


1.       Minutes of proceedings

2.       Written declaration

3.       Organisation of debates

4.       Address by Mr H R Agung Laksono, the next President of the Asian Parliamentary Assembly


      Mr Mota Amaral (Portugal)

      Mr Ëorsi (Hungary)

      Mr Kos (Netherlands)

      Ms Pashayeva (Azerbaijan)

      Mr Lindblad (Sweden)

      Mrs Tevdoraze (Georgia)

Mr Goldstein (Canada)

      Mr Dupraz (Switzerland)

      Mr Béteille (France)

      Mr Zingeris (Lithuania)

      Mr Messerschmidt (Denmark)

5.       Prostitution – what stance to take?

      Presentation by Mr Platvoet of report of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men (Doc.11352)


      Ms Woldseth (Norway)

      Mrs Meulenbelt (Netherlands)

      Mrs Err (Luxembourg)

      Mrs Circene (Latvia)

      Mrs Nakashidzé (Georgia)

      Mrs Ruppercht (Germany)

      Mr Gruber (Hungary)

      Mrs Papadopoulos (Cyprus)

      Mrs Graf (Germany)

Mrs Čordová (Czech Republic)


Mr Platvoet (Netherlands)

Mrs Bilgehan (Turkey)

Draft resolution adopted.

Draft recommendation adopted

6.       The dangers of creationism in education

Presentation by Mrs Brasseur of report of the Committee on Culture, Science and Education (Doc. 11375)


Mr Rossi (San Marino)

Mr Johansson (Sweden)

Mrs Bemelmans-Videc (Netherlands)

Mr Ëorsi (Hungary)

Ms Bjarnadóttir (Iceland)

Mr Wach (Poland)

Mr Jurgens (Netherlands)

Baroness Hooper (United Kingdom)

Mr Pollozhani (“the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia)

Mr Fischer (Germany)

Mrs Kiuru (Finland)

Mr Lindblad (Sweden)

Mr Kawa (Poland)


Mr Legendre (France)

      Mrs Brasseur (Luxembourg)

      Amendments Nos. 1 as amended, 4, Oral Amendment, 8 as amended, 7 as amended, adopted.

      Draft resolution, as amended, adopted.

7.       Date, time and orders of the day of the next sitting