AS (2013) CR 13
2013 ORDINARY SESSION
Tuesday 23 April 2013 at 3.30 p.m.
In this report:
1. Speeches in English are reported in full.
2. Speeches in other languages are reported using the interpretation and are marked with an asterisk.
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 report.
(Mr Mignon, the President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.35 p.m.)
THE PRESIDENT* – The sitting is open.
1. Address by Mr Didier Burkhalter, Vice-President of the Federal Council, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland
THE PRESIDENT* – We now have the honour of hearing an address by Mr Didier Burkhalter, Vice-President of the Federal Council and Head of the Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland, after which he will take questions from the floor.
It is with great pleasure, Minister, that, for the third time I bid you a warm welcome to Strasbourg and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Your visit today has an especially symbolic dimension, because this year is the 50th anniversary of your country’s joining the Council of Europe. I thank you for the wonderful work you presented to me earlier, which I shall read avidly. I note that there are a number of faces on the cover with which the Parliamentary Assembly is very familiar, and who have left their mark on its history over the past 50 years. Indeed, some of those faces are still visible before us.
Switzerland’s unstinting commitment to the values and standards of our Organisation was especially reflected in the priorities of the Swiss chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, which you took on from 18 November 2009 to 11 May 2010. Your chairmanship focused on three issues: protecting human rights and the rule of law, strengthening democratic institutions, and enhancing the transparency and effectiveness of the workings of the Council of Europe. Your chairmanship made it possible to launch an array of important initiatives that have marked the Council of Europe’s deliberations for several years now.
I also thank you – somewhat belatedly – for the wonderful welcome afforded to us for the meetings of the Bureau and the Standing Committee, which we usually have in your country. The Interlaken conference, to name but one, was a crucial staging post in the reform of our European Court of Human Rights. Moreover, Switzerland substantially contributes to the Council of Europe’s co-operation programmes through voluntary contributions that significantly enhance the impact of our work in States where our support is especially relevant and sorely needed.
Finally, I want to make it clear that the Swiss delegation is one of the most active in this Assembly, and I am always very happy to be able to count on the support of my Swiss colleagues such as Andreas Gross, who is a record-holder for voting attendance. He is one of the few who regularly attends all the votes. I should also mention Ms Liliane Maury Pasquier, who is the Chair of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, and an old friend who is no longer a member of our Assembly, Dick Marty, who also chaired a committee and did major work in our Assembly.
It is with the greatest pleasure that I now give you the floor, Minister.
Mr BURKHALTER (Vice-President of the Federal Council, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland)* – Thank you, Mr President, for that warm triple welcome. You, too, will be warmly welcomed any time you wish to come to our country.
Distinguished members of the Parliamentary Assembly and friends of Europe, on 6 May 50 European youths will be in Switzerland completing a week that will have led them to different parts of our country and here to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. Switzerland, with them, will celebrate the 50 years of its membership. On 6 May 1963, Switzerland officially joined the Council of Europe; Charles de Gaulle and Konrad Adenauer had just signed the Élysée Treaty and Berlin was getting ready to host John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Switzerland’s accession to the Council of Europe should, of course, be celebrated and I am grateful to have this opportunity to enable my country to express itself.
Switzerland has sought to mark the event by looking towards the future through the eyes of young Europeans; that is why we invited those 50 youths hailing from 11 countries – those that have most recently joined the Council of Europe: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Moldova, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia. Those youngsters will live together for a week and undergo training, make reflections and deal with democracy, human rights, justice, the rule of law, federalism and the protection of minorities. They will visit different parts of Switzerland: Berne, Delémont, Zurich, Lucerne and Fribourg, where, on 6 May, we will celebrate 50 years of membership in the presence of Secretary General Jagland.
The young people will go to Glarus, at the heart of democracy. They will attend a Landsgemeinde – the exercise of direct democracy in the purest sense. I was present at the Landsgemeinde, a popular assembly in Glarus, last year, in the company of the Austrian Foreign Minister. That is living democracy, when an entire people gets together for four hours in a village square and debates different subjects under pelting rain, listening to and respecting the opinion of all and taking decisions collectively. That is the palpitating heart of Swiss democracy that we shall honour for the young people, who represent the future of Europe. In their eyes, and those of their friends in Switzerland, we will be able to read the dream of the future of Europe that we wish to bequeath them – a Europe of democracy, openness, security and prosperity, and a Europe of peace.
Politics is about building a country or a Europe and making a better world for future generations. It offers youth the opportunity to achieve things and provides them perspectives. Every policy is leave for the future, said the Swiss – and European – philosopher, Denis de Rougemont. That is what motivated Switzerland to join the Council of Europe on 6 May 1963 and still motivates it to be here today – to create a future for young people and with them.
Let us look at the Swiss concept of democracy, law and freedom, at the importance of the Council of Europe and at the involvement of Switzerland in Europe and beyond. The role of Switzerland in Europe and its relations with the continent lend themselves to democratic debate. That debate should be set in the context of globalisation, which is revving up – a change in balance and a diversification of global centres – and in the context of European integration, which has several forms. For example, some European Union countries belong to the Eurozone and others do not. Some European Union member countries are not fully in Schengen, whereas other countries, such as Switzerland – not a member of the European Union – are fully associated with it. The Council of Europe covers practically the whole of the European continent, so relations with Europe and its institutions is a theme for debate and reflection. That is evidence of living democracy, especially in Switzerland, a country that has been practising democracy daily – not in the Landsgemeinde square every day in the pelting rain, but at least four times a year in the ballot box.
Switzerland is the only country in Europe that had a popular vote – twice positive – on the successive extensions of the European Union and therefore the agreement on the free movement of persons. That will probably happen again following the imminent accession of Croatia. Switzerland, of course, is at the heart of Europe. It is the crossroads between three important European cultures. Questions of European identity are much felt through the very nature of our country’s historical evolution – its institutional and political history and its geography. That is why, early on, Switzerland became a State whose structure and political practice resemble in some aspects the Europe that is being built.
Switzerland had a federal constitution from 1848. It is one of the few countries where, during European revolutions, liberal, democratic and republican ideas won the day and remain uninterrupted to this day. The constitution of 1848, whose principal elements are still in force, has established a power that is limited, decentralised and shared.
Power is limited in that the initiative, freedom and responsibilities of individuals play a fundamental role in our country. Even our authorities are set up on that basis because in Switzerland political involvement is voluntary and a major undertaking. Important swathes of policy – notably those to do with labour – depend on social partnership and dialogue between the unions and enterprises rather than laws or public policies. The power in Switzerland is decentralised, pursuant to the principle of subsidiarity. Certain tasks are delegated to the federal State; they pertain, through the constitution, by default, to the cantonal States. Power in Switzerland is fragmented because the Federal Council is a collegial authority where important decisions are collectively taken. Its chairmanship moves in turn to each member of the council for a year. The system depersonalises power, although today the opposite is often sought.
During the second half of the 19th century, an essential cog was added to that institutional construction – semi-direct democracy. The system, which exists in cantons, has strengthened counter-powers and thus further limited the legislative and executive branches. In Switzerland, major questions are always settled by the sovereign people. The Swiss recipe is to combine liberalism with federalism and direct democracy with its counterpart – a political system based on consensus. In that context, the protection of human rights, democracy, peace and the rule of law are included in our country’s genetic heritage. The will to reduce poverty and to protect the environment, be it in Switzerland or around the world, was added to these values over the years. The Swiss are fond of this system and very much attached to it. They are proud of it, but not arrogant.
Swiss people take their time. Switzerland took some time to join major organisations such as the Council of Europe and the United Nations, although it fully shares, and has long shared, their values. This is probably because of neutrality in a world that was long strongly divided and the fact that the decision-making process takes time when one has direct democracy. Switzerland is the only country in the world to have voted on becoming a member of the United Nations twice. In 1986, still in the context of the Cold War, the idea was rejected by 75% of Swiss voters. I remember that very well. I was young at the time, and in favour of our joining the United Nations, but I was beaten – that is how you learn democracy. In the meantime, the world changed. The Cold War is over and the United Nations has become a truly universal organisation. In 2002, the Swiss people finally supported Switzerland’s membership of the United Nations, which allows it to defend its values and interests around the world. For the first time, Switzerland will be a candidate for the Security Council in the election to take place in 2022.
Membership of the Council of Europe also took some time because Switzerland wanted to convince itself that this was not an organisation that opposed blocs but one that acts in the service of values. Switzerland became convinced that the Council of Europe is an organisation that could help it not only to develop values of democracy, human rights and peace within it but to promote them beyond its bounds. In a world and a continent that is increasingly interconnected, Switzerland is convinced that, like others, it has the responsibility to act on global problems. It also has the responsibility to show that solidarity, stability, economic development and human development of the continent and the world is in the interests of all, including the Swiss.
The foreign policy of Switzerland today can be defined by the following triptych: neutrality, solidarity and responsibility. This, inter alia, is the reason Switzerland decided last year strongly to increase its aid for international co-operation and development, which will rise above 11 billion francs for the period 2013-2016 – 0.5% of national income. It does this as an act of responsibility and solidarity vis-ŕ-vis Europe and the world at a time when others have to reduce these amounts for financial reasons. The international co-operation sector will have the greatest growth in public expenditure during that budgetary period.
Switzerland observed things cautiously before joining the Council of Europe. Obviously, however, the dynamic that arose in Europe after the Second World War did not leave it indifferent. It observed this movement very kind-heartedly. Certain Swiss persons were very active in the European movement at the time. At The Hague congress presided over by Winston Churchill in 1948, Denis de Rougemont, whom I mentioned in my introduction, drafted and read, during the closing session, the message addressed to Europeans adopted by the congress that led, in 1949, to the emergence of the Council of Europe. Switzerland was not ready to become a member, and the international context immediately after the war did not lend itself to doing so. However, the inter-governmental character of the Council of Europe and the values and principles that you defended managed to convince Switzerland of the usefulness of becoming a member in the 1960s.
After becoming a member, Switzerland found in Strasbourg a manner of working and a climate with which it was familiar. The enhancing of local and regional frameworks, the involvement of civil society, decision taking by consensus, and, more generally, an approach based on law makes the Council of Europe a forum that fits the Swiss mentality.
Switzerland attaches particular importance to the conventions of the Council of Europe through participating in their elaboration or ratifying the major ones. Of the 212 conventions ratified to date, Switzerland has ratified 116 and signed 13 others. Generally speaking, we are prepared to adhere as much as possible to the conventions of the Council of Europe. Yet Switzerland studies each adhesion carefully and has decided not to subscribe to certain texts. That means not that it does not share their objectives but that it chooses to achieve them through other means. Sometimes there are divergences in methods, but not divergences in objectives.
I should like to illustrate this attitude with an example that underscores the political culture of Switzerland. The confederation has not yet adopted the European social charter because at this stage a literal implementation of the charter might query certain important economic and social acquis that we deem to be fundamental in my country. The Swiss system of dual vocational training – learning at school and in enterprises – is an essential factor in the economic success of our country. We have the lowest youth unemployment in Europe. The burning challenge – probably the most acute challenge on our continent – is to provide prospects, and thus jobs, for young people. One of the reasons for Switzerland’s success in this field is linked to the system of dual apprenticeship. Young people who have been trained in companies and in schools adapt themselves rapidly to economic realities. Furthermore, the evolving needs of the market are taken on board in the training itself. Of course, during their apprenticeships in this dual training young apprentices do not get a wage equivalent to what they will receive when they get a job, but during their training their friends at school get no wages at all. Our membership of the social charter might query part of that system by reason of the level of apprentices’ salaries if the charter is read too legalistically.
The issue is being clarified and we are trying to debate these matters. We are pleading in favour not, strictly speaking, of processes being taken into account, but of the results of our policies. Training young people properly and providing them with jobs is the best social policy for the future. Different policies may lead to similar consequences. Switzerland is having discussions with the European Committee of Social Rights in order to obtain the recognition of equivalences in this system that would allow Switzerland to become a member of the social charter without compromising one of its trump cards. Switzerland seeks strictly to apply, in an exemplary manner, the texts that it signs. If it knows that it will not apply them 100%, as in this case, it would consistently prefer not to join as long as sufficient jurisprudence allows it to clarify the obligations linked to such conventions. In the field of vocational training, as in others, Switzerland is, above all, concerned about the results of its policies on its inhabitants. Also in this field, Switzerland is considering, through its duty of responsibility and solidarity, launching a large programme to sustain the development of vocational training in countries of Europe that need it because they are experiencing a high youth unemployment rate.
This brings me to the Council of Europe and the importance, in the true sense of that word, of its contribution to the development of democracy and the rule of law. Its unique system for the protection of individuals constitutes universally acknowledged qualities. The mechanisms developed by the Council of Europe often serve as reference points. The protection of rights and freedoms has progressed in all the countries of Europe, thanks to the mechanisms developed here in Strasbourg – so thank you for that. It could be argued that enjoyment of these rights and freedoms should extend to peoples who do not yet enjoy them, especially in Belarus, with whom we very much wish dialogue to be renewed. With Kosovo not yet admitted to the Council of Europe, this also involves territories that are subjected to prolonged, frozen conflict, especially in the territory of the former Soviet Union. In such cases, the precondition is the resolution of these disputes, which should be the priority in European efforts. That will indeed be one of the Swiss priorities in 2014, when it will have the presidency of the OSCE.
The contribution of the Council of Europe to the development of human rights and the rule of law has also had positive effects on Switzerland. The human rights and fundamental freedoms mentioned at the beginning of the new federal constitution draw inspiration largely from the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights. Several lacunae in the protections of rights and freedoms have also been filled since Switzerland joined the Convention, and Swiss legislation has evolved, through sovereign decisions, but in a movement of dialogue typical in respect of the protection mechanisms of human rights.
Promoting growth and employment is obviously the priority of most European governments today. Prosperity is built upon not only a legal and institutional environment, but a stable social and economic environment. So it is not peradventure if the search for stability cannot be dissociated from the quest for prosperity. Stability – those rules that govern our activities, be they State activities or not – is also a societal contract; it is a social contract, to use the words of Rousseau. The Council of Europe and its conventions contribute to the creation of the legal space that is consistent and sure throughout our continent. This is good for stability, good for human development and good for the construction of a prosperous economy and a society that integrates and offers perspectives.
The monitoring organs – first and foremost, the European Court of Human Rights – constitute an unequalled guarantee of the coherence and solidity of that system. Switzerland places high above all in its value system the freedoms and rights of each individual. The Court system guarantees that each individual’s rights will be respected, protected against arbitrariness and the force of the State. The Court protects individuals and their freedoms. The fact that everyone can go to Strasbourg to defend their rights against their own government constitutes a fundamental guarantee. Of course, States do not like to lose before the Court, and Switzerland is no different from others in that regard. Indeed, Switzerland is closely studying a recent judgement that concerns it. If it considers that it is justified, it will use public means – legal means – asking for a referral of the case before the Grand Chamber of the Court. However, the fact of accepting such a rule – of accepting the functioning of institutions in an integrative society – is the sign of a mature democracy that places the freedom and fundamental rights of citizens at the forefront. Thus, the European Convention on Human Rights has constituted a central and fundamental instrument in the development of Europe since the second half of the 20th century. It is effectively protecting values as important as: the right to life, to a fair trial and to the respect of private and family life; the freedoms of expression, thought, conscience and religion; the right to the respect of property; and the prohibition of torture, forced labour, the death penalty and arbitrary detention. The Convention and the Court, thus, guarantee the most fundamental values of our continent and humanity. That is why Switzerland has taken up such values in its constitution.
The will of the European Union, which Switzerland salutes, to become a member of the European Convention underscores the importance of this mechanism. This membership will fill a gap in the human rights protection mechanism in Europe, and Switzerland congratulates itself on the agreement recently reached by the negotiators. The agreement on the European Union’s membership has to overcome several hurdles yet before being ratified by the member States and the European Union itself, so there is still a lot of work to be done. You have a human rights review mechanism that is unique for the entire continent, and the member States of the Council of Europe shall remain firmly and jointly engaged to ensure the integrity and legitimacy of this mechanism, whether or not they belong to the European Union.
The Council of Europe’s standards and their significance do not cease at the boundaries of our continent; they become a reference throughout the world. Many countries have joined certain legal instruments of the Council of Europe. The rights and freedoms promoted by the Council of Europe have also made it possible to strengthen security on our continent. Peace within our societies and peace between nations cannot be guaranteed if individuals’ rights are regularly breached and their freedoms attacked. Such situations are factors of instability and, thus, of insecurity, which have grave consequences, not only for the regions concerned, but for the continent at large, notably in economic and migration terms. So it is not peradventure if the extension of fundamental rights and freedoms has gone hand in hand with strengthened co-operation between States and the reduction of violent conflicts in Europe.
If the Council of Europe had lost influence with the successive extensions of the European Community and then the European Union, the end of the Cold War provided it with a new lease of life. Its expertise allowed the countries of central and eastern Europe and the Balkan countries to benefit from fundamental support in their efforts to build up a State with the rule of law, democratisation and the protection of human rights. Almost all countries in Europe are here in Strasbourg to consolidate the common heritage and value base of our continent. We hope that the situation of the two States still missing in that system will soon change. The success of the Council of Europe’s mission is not, however, thus guaranteed. The means at its disposal will not increase, so it is important that the Council of Europe should concentrate its activities on its principal added-value and that it closely co-operate with other international organisations; complementarity should prevail over competition.
The strengthening of the Council of Europe’s effectiveness was a priority of the Swiss chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers in 2010. That concerned both the reform of the European Court of Human Rights and of the Council of Europe. The holding of the Interlaken conference in February 2010 made it possible to obtain the adoption by justice ministers of all the member States of an action plan for the reform of the Court. Several phases of that plan have since been achieved, notably through the adoption of the declarations at Izmir and Brighton. So we are on the right path, but we are only halfway towards these reforms. It is therefore fundamental that the Interlaken process should pursue its course and that the determination to guarantee the effectiveness of the functioning of the Court should not weaken, either within the member States or within this Assembly. Otherwise, the effectiveness and the credibility of the system of protection of human rights in Europe would be at stake.
As for the other key objective – reform of the Council of Europe – Switzerland fully supports the efforts undertaken from the outset of his mandate by the Secretary General, Mr Jagland, whom we thank warmly for his involvement. The decision was taken by the heads of State and governments of the members States during the Third Summit of the Council of Europe in Warsaw in 2005 to refocus the organisation around its fundamental mission. That is an important decision in order to guarantee the appositeness of the Council of Europe in the future. Since 2005, the profile of the Council of Europe has strengthened. Today, the Organisation is clearly identified in the fields of preservation and promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. Much has been done since 2009 for these major orientations to be reflected in the structure and, above all, in the practice in the daily work of the Council of Europe. This effort of reform should not flag; work must be pursued with determination. So the Secretary General you elect next year will have resolutely to undertake to follow that path.
I shall now address Switzerland’s involvement in Europe and beyond. Switzerland is a country of peace. I recently visited Colombia, where I spent time with children of displaced persons from the armed conflict and children who had witnessed the horrors of civil war and had been torn away from everything – they had nothing. These were children of three or four whose childhood had been robbed, to a large extent. I could read in their eyes all that this means when we talk of Switzerland, a country of peace and prosperity. This provides us with duties and responsibilities. Switzerland, around the world and in our continent, is in favour of the resolution of conflicts, and it does that through facilitating dialogue and mediation. The promotion of human rights, the rule of law and democracy is an indispensable corollary to such efforts. Switzerland wishes still to be involved in the Council of Europe and together with the Council of Europe in order to obtain those objectives. We fully identify ourselves with the inter-governmental and co-operation practice within the Council of Europe. The same applies in respect of the activities of the organisations where Switzerland is one of the major voluntary contributors. The Council of Europe is a very much appreciated partner in the context of our own bilateral co-operation with several European countries. Thus it is with conviction that we support efforts undertaken by the Organisation, especially for countries in transition.
Next year, Switzerland will have the privilege of occupying the presidency of the OSCE. That chairmanship, coming at a time when the OSCE faces important challenges, will require Switzerland to make particular efforts. It will be a question of renewing the capacity to co-operate, and thus to decide together. The OSCE has probably overused the expression, “We agree to disagree.” In future, we will need to say, “We disagree to disagree,” or rather, “We agree to agree.” In an organisation that decides by a unanimity rule, that will depend on the will of each of its members from a large number of States that are also members of the Council of Europe – your countries, ladies and gentleman. That evolution is fundamental if we are to have an OSCE that, as its name suggests, is devoted to the security of our continent, our Europe. Switzerland descries in its chairmanship of the OSCE an opportunity further to contribute to the stability and prosperity of Europe and beyond, to strengthen its involvement in the field of conflict resolution, mediation and the promotion of peace, and to contribute to the progress of the rule of law and democratic governance.
Between the Council of Europe and the OSCE lies the importance of potential synergies – great complementarities. The Council of Europe is first and foremost an organisation that establishes and monitors standards in the field of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. The OSCE is first and foremost an instrument for the purposes of conflict prevention, crisis management and post-conflict rehabilitation. However, the OSCE also establishes standards – politically binding standards – in the field of human rights, the rule of law and democracy that play a key role in, for example, the countries of central Asia that are not members of the Council of Europe.
Co-operation between the two organisations is already well established in several fields: tolerance and non-discrimination, national minorities, combating trafficking in human beings and combating terrorism. That has made it possible to strengthen the effectiveness of those activities. It is worthwhile extending that collaboration. Let us think of co-operation in situ. Let us think also of election observation, co-operation between the Parliamentary Assemblies of the two organisations and – why not? – a giant session. That would certainly make it possible to strengthen our potential and stimulate concrete co-operation. I invite you to reflect on such possibilities. Switzerland, as president of the OSCE in 2014, will support any initiative likely to strengthen effective co-operation with the Council of Europe. Inter alia, we envisage conferences on the topic of national minorities in 2013 and 2014 which will convene experts hailing from the two organisations.
The values defended by the Council of Europe have thus become standards in Europe and serve as reference points elsewhere in the world. There is a field in which our action could have an impact beyond Europe: combating the death penalty. That constitutes one of the priorities of Swiss human rights policies. Switzerland is undertaking many activities against capital punishment. In 2010, the fourth world congress against capital punishment was held in Geneva. Convinced of the importance of such encounters in the context of the world campaign against that scourge, Switzerland is proud to support that major event by co-sponsoring, with Spain, Norway and France, the 2013 world congress, which will take place in Madrid in June. We also contribute to the efforts deployed by the International Commission against the Death Penalty, and Switzerland is now an active member of the State support group to the commission, whose secretariat is in Geneva.
To abolish the death penalty throughout the world will take time, but the process is under way, and even if the path is an arduous one, the trends are evolving in the right direction. I call on all member States of the Council of Europe to pursue their efforts in this direction together. The death penalty is ineffective, illegitimate and contrary to human rights values. I call on Belarus especially, the last European State not to have renounced the death penalty, as well as the United States and Japan, observer States of the Council of Europe, to reflect and to act with determination, to introduce first a moratorium and then abolish the death penalty, simply because that is just.
All policies are a way forward for the future. All policies are reflected in the eyes of young people from Switzerland and Europe, including those 50 young people who will be in Switzerland and Strasbourg next week to experience the values of our country and the Council of Europe. What we all want, through our diversity, is to read in the eyes of children the desire for a future, the wish for freedom, the joy of peace and the smile of opportunities that arise in a stable, sure and prosperous continent. The future of Europe will be based on the fundamental values that shape our common destiny: human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy, peace, justice and the rule of law. All of that prompts and motivates Switzerland in the Council of Europe. We warmly thank your Parliamentary Assembly and each one of you for your involvement. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much, Mr Burkhalter, for your most interesting address. Members of the Assembly have questions to put to you. I suggest that you answer them in clusters of three. I call Mr Kalmár, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.
Mr KALMÁR (Hungary) – The Swiss currency has strengthened considerably, by more than 70% in relation to some central European currencies, thus ruining thousands of families in the region. That was certainly not a decision of the Swiss Government, but the result of decisions taken by financial actors in the world. How did you manage that situation, and how are you managing it now, to keep the Swiss economy going at such a high level?
THE PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Schennach, on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Mr SCHENNACH (Austria)* – From one neutral country to another, I address you on an issue that does not really have to do with neutrality, but one that concerns Europe and the world as a whole: the fact that for the last few years we have been talking a lot about tax havens. How can we avoid tax evasion, tax havens and so on? I would like to know what your opinion is on tax fairness. We are talking about billions being lost to our public coffers, and unfortunately there is a lack of European solidarity on the issue. Do you think we can achieve something, at least here in Europe?
THE PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Clappison, on behalf of the European Democrat Group.
Mr CLAPPISON (United Kingdom) – Your country has a proud history as a protector of the oppressed, as a source of humanitarian aid and as a home of free thinking. Against that background, what can you do, and what do you think others can do, to improve the precarious situation of Christians and other religious minorities in some of our near neighbour countries in various parts of the Middle East and Asia – for example, in countries such as Egypt, Syria and Pakistan?
Mr BURKHALTER* – I thank you all for the interest you have shown in my country by asking these questions. The appreciation of the franc has hit our economy hard, too. The situation is so difficult with such a strong appreciation that it pushes a country geared to exports to be even stronger in terms of innovation. It so happens that, for a long time, our country, one with such enormous natural resources, especially its mountains, has tried to place emphasis on innovation, and that was the right choice. We do not complain about the strength of the franc, but we feel that it is an opportunity for us to improve further in this field. None the less there are limits to what we can do. Obviously, decisions taken completely independently, such as the law of the Swiss bank on a ceiling for the Swiss franc, were necessary so that things did not go too far.
Doing away with tax havens is really a general question of fiscal equity. It is important to say, first, that for Switzerland the issue is not the mass of data that are transmitted. What is important is to ensure that taxes are paid, so it is not necessarily a gigantic transfer of data on a Kafka scale that will be effective in the long run in resolving the problems. That is the first point.
Secondly, the debate on fiscal and tax equity is about values. Switzerland has always put at the forefront individual responsibility, the protection of privacy and a form of relationship between the State and the citizen predicated on trust. That is perhaps not fashionable, but you will find that in Switzerland.
We have taken an array of measures to improve the situation. We wish to see a competitive financial market, but at the same time we want to build a financial market that displays integrity. We have taken measures to strengthen administrative governance and mutual legal assistance, in keeping with international, especially OECD, standards. For a long time we have taken measures that involve tax at source.
For a long time, too, we have been ready to discuss an extension to the system of taxation of savings with the European Union, which has not been possible until now because we have not had a proper response. We have also seen positive work from the United Kingdom and Austria for other measures, and a number of taxation measures across the rest of the European Union.
Several measures regarding the due diligence of banks are being considered. Provisions are being taken to deal with money laundering. Our provisions are among the best in the world, but we want to improve them even further in the light of the recommendations of the Financial Action Task Force, especially in dealing with serious fiscal offences and the responsibility of legal entities. We ask for worldwide co-ordination on the rules of fair play in financial markets.
Switzerland wants to be the global leader in the restitution of ill-gotten gains. Over the past 15 years, we have restituted some $1.7 billion of illicit income. We have robust legislation in that field and we will amend it to make it better. We are proposing to parliament an optimisation of the whole package of laws that deal with illicitly derived gains. We want to discuss the matter not only domestically but internationally, so that the financial market in Switzerland is competitive but honest.
The last question was about humanitarian assistance and the protection of freedoms. Difficulties regarding the freedom of religion in the regions referred to are a delicate problem. We are supporting a number of projects, particularly those of international organisations, so that with our partners we can ensure that the suffering of people is reduced and that there is true freedom and the rule of law.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Villumsen, who will speak on behalf of the Unified European Left.
Mr VILLUMSEN (Denmark) – I have noticed that Switzerland, Norway and Russia have decided to give more money to the Council of Europe, while other countries, including European Union countries, have decided to cut their payment to our institution. Why have you chosen to increase spending on our institution when others have decided to cut?
Mr RECORDON (Switzerland)* – The Federal Council of Switzerland has been active in dealing with filthy lucre, which is an economic, social and political issue. It is also a human rights issue in the most elementary sense, if you look at the problem in relation to problems with the mafia. Has Switzerland been proactive at the multilateral level in ensuring that there is an international fight against dirty money?
Mr GAUDI NAGY (Hungary) – Switzerland is famous for its balanced, fair and peaceful system of co-existence of different nations in one country. Moreover, your country has preserved its independence by staying out of the European Union. Could you imagine a situation where any national community in your country is deprived of the right to live in their preferred region or canton, or where the border of any canton is changed arbitrarily by the central government? Unfortunately, in some countries in central Europe, such as Romania, that is a sad reality. How would you convince them to follow your way?
Mr BURKHALTER* – On the question of increasing resources for the Council of Europe, that fits within a strategy to which I alluded earlier, which is an across-the-board increase in resources for international co-operation. It is not just for the Council of Europe, but the Council of Europe is the flagship international organisation for democracy, the rule of law and human rights, so it goes without saying that we will adopt a positive position in relation to it. The Federal Council and our parliament discussed the issue at great length and decided on the increase in resources. We will therefore see a clear increase in resources from public spending in coming years.
It is all the more worthwhile to make such a gesture now, because other countries are not so comfortable – their public coffers do not allow for such generosity and they have had to reduce expenditure. I have been to several eastern European countries, where I have detected difficulties in certain projects because of the drop in resources from a number of donors. I think we can help to balance that out a little, even if our contribution is relatively modest.
Regarding the fight against money laundering and dirty money, I do not think that Switzerland can be branded as reactive. Its legislation in that area could be deemed to be exemplary – I say that with no hubris – and it is among the most advanced in the world. There is no question of Switzerland being reactive in fighting money laundering and filthy lucre. We have been proactive, and we have advanced legislation. As I have said, there are a number of recommendations that we think are fair and for which we have embarked on the legislative process in Switzerland. We will take the time that is needed.
I am not sure that I understood the final question. Mr Gaudi Nagy, you talked about Switzerland as a country that has cemented its cohesion and as an example to countries that have difficulty in keeping all its constituent parts together. Switzerland will deliver sermons to no one in that regard – we are duty bound not to do so – but we will say that the best way of keeping people together is to let them speak: give them their voice and their head. You need institutions that will allow each and every one to feel integrated, valued, acknowledged and heeded. You can do that by various ways and means. For a long time now, Switzerland has been using the institutions that I have referred to earlier, and it is not a bad recipe.
Ms OROBETS (Ukraine) – Journalistic investigations have shown that Swiss legal entities are being used to launder money from the State budget of Ukraine. For example, EDAPS, a company that prints all passports in Ukraine and which has access to the personal data of Ukrainian citizens, receives large State contracts without any tender. Can we expect a proper reaction from the Swiss Government to stop such State corruption – for example, by launching an internal investigation?
Mr KAYATÜRK (Turkey)* – Increasing xenophobia and Islamophobia continue to cause serious concern in Europe. What are your views about the situation in Switzerland? What do you think we should all do together in Europe to overcome this problem?
Mr REIMANN (Switzerland)* – The Council of Europe body responsible for fighting corruption – GRECO – has recently considered the accession of Switzerland, and the party and election financing system has been criticised quite severely. That GRECO report almost suggests that Switzerland is a corrupt, backward country, rather than the one you have just described, with wonderful direct democracy. The Swiss Government has looked into this. What is your opinion?
Mr BURKHALTER* – Thank you for those questions. On corruption, let me tell you that Switzerland is in fact at the very top of the list of countries that are fighting corruption. I grant you that it is not perfect. Some investigations have to be conducted and problems have to be resolved, particularly in the context of the point that you referred to obliquely. However, it is true that these institutions are working well in Switzerland and these crimes are being investigated and prosecuted. We will leave no stone unturned. Of course, a lot remains to be done, but the fight to avoid money laundering and to stop corruption is a priority for Switzerland. We have implemented all GRECO’s recommendations – in fact, GRECO applauded us – with the exception of the very last one, which I shall come back to in a moment, on political party financing.
Of course, xenophobia and Islamophobia are very dangerous indeed, as well as very worrying, but we all hold the key to solving this phenomenon. In Switzerland, the best way to resolve issues such as discrimination and the tensions that may exist between different communities is by working as closely as possible with local communities – outreach, in other words. I do not think that problems can be resolved just by legislation. We really need to raise awareness. That is how to resolve these problems, by reaching out to all strata of society, whether municipalities – the formal strata – or associations, including sports associations. For example, if you can integrate young people into sports teams early on, that is really good. If, however, sports clubs become tied to one community only, the opposite result is achieved systematically. To fight xenophobia, Islamophobia and any discrimination against different parts of society, we all need to feel that it is something that we must tackle, and we must all contribute to doing so every day, so that we have better integration and better acceptance.
On the last question, I would like to take this opportunity to make Switzerland’s position on the GRECO recommendation very clear. We were told that we have to bring ourselves up to the usual standards applicable to the financing of political parties. In Switzerland, we do not share that opinion. Why? Well, we have direct democracy and a federal system, and it is our will to emphasise individual responsibility. Let me explain what I mean. Direct democracy means that parties are important, but they are not that important. Just as important are various committees – for example, referendum committees – citizens initiatives and so on at every level. If you want to regulate, you must do a lot more than just look at the financing of political parties.
Federalism in Switzerland means that we have cantons and municipalities that are really strong. The national party structures involved just a handful of people, and those structures are not particularly professional either. Unlike other countries, we do not have a massive structure for national parties. Look at the cantons and municipalities: not just the people who hold office are the movers and shakers. Federalism also means that a lot of things are tested in cantons; they are the laboratory. Two cantons have considered the financing of political parties; they are the test cases, and we will see what happens to them. We will then look at the other levels – the federal level and so on – if need be.
Finally, I would like to explain another important point. Individual responsibility is a very important concept in Switzerland. If people want to fund parties, we trust them to do so. They can come forward and say so. That option is certainly open to them. Ladies and gentlemen, it is important that you open your eyes to the ramifications of such provisions. France has a 20-year-old regulation on party funding, and surprisingly the number of cases has multiplied tenfold. Austria has regulations on political party funding, and €200 million had to be set aside for political party financing. Compare that to Switzerland, where we operate in a very modest environment. The Netherlands has a party with just one member, and in a way that is going over the top. Our system in Switzerland might not be perfect, but it is appropriate for us and there is no majority in support of a change. We have explained that to GRECO. I suppose that its purpose is to harmonise the situation for everyone, but Europe will always be a magnificent continent – one marked by a lot of diversity.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. There are three questions left. Minister, I will not contradict you on the financing of political parties in France. I imagine that you will understand that.
Mr XUCLŔ (Spain)* – You come from a very serious country, and you referred to the fact that your country has the concept of defending the private domain, so how do you assess the impact of new technology on privacy and private life? After all, we are talking about a fundamental right to have a private life. As you are aware, new technology has many benefits, but there can be violations and breaches and, indeed, privacy might be at stake.
Mr R. FARINA (Italy)* – I have two brief but very different questions. First, how are the negotiations going with Italy on the taxation of Italian capital exported illegally to Swiss banks? What conditions is Switzerland laying down? Secondly, the Italian community in Switzerland is the biggest community of foreigners. What is the government doing to combat the rise of anti-Italian xenophobia, with Italians dubbed as job thieves or mice eating the Swiss cheese?
Mr BENEYTO (Spain)* – The European banking union is now being set up. To what extent do Swiss people think that it will have an impact on the Swiss banking system? Will it lead to any change in the relationship between Switzerland and the European Union?
Mr BURKHALTER* – First, thank you for calling us a serious country. We certainly do our best to be a serious country.
On the protection of privacy and new technology, I would like to answer in a few simple words. All this will be controlled as long as everyone takes individual responsibility and has the skills to manage the opportunities afforded by new technology and the risks. Training and the amount of time spent with young people to explain all this to them are important. Of course, you have to let them do their homework to discover the pros and cons of new technology. That will help. We cannot resolve all problems. There will always be problems, but it is important for the individual to respond and react to new technology. I would like to emphasise another point about the slightly contradictory aspect in our societies. We want the instant exchange of data whenever possible, but we rely on the co-operation of others to have that exchange. Those are the contradictions of modern society; what can we do?
We have not drawn up any conditions on Italy and fiscal issues, but we have drawn up a list of points. We want to have some discussions with Italy and hope to find some solutions. We have almost reached the end of the process. Switzerland would like to solve all these problems – some might be more relevant to Italy, whereas others might be more relevant to Switzerland – and to agree one package for a solution. We had almost reached the end of our negotiations when, unfortunately, we had some problems with authority and with finding a solution for the future government of your country. That is going on now, so we are waiting for stabilisation.
I was surprised by the comments on xenophobia and anti-Italian sentiment. I come from a village with a large Italian community that is completely integrated and there is nothing like that – there is no xenophobia. There might sometimes be the odd statement, but there is no anti-Italian sentiment. We have an Italian community that is highly appreciated by others. I experience that daily in Neuchâtel, where my three sons play in an Italian team.
All the elements that you mentioned – everything to do with the European Union, the content, financial relations and the banking union – will have an impact on Switzerland and we will have to take the necessary steps to adapt to those changes. We are keen to guarantee the stability of the financial system, so we must take responsibility as the main trading place of Europe – and of the world.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much, Minister. It has been a great pleasure to listen to you and to hear you responding to the various questions that have been asked. I thank colleagues for sticking to their 30 second time allowance and I wish Switzerland a happy 50th anniversary of its accession to the Council of Europe.
I call Ms Huovinen on a point of order.
Ms HUOVINEN (Finland) – During our consideration of the Monitoring Committee’s report on Turkey this morning, my vote for Amendment 8 was made in error. I should have voted against the amendment and hope that that can be corrected.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. We have taken note of that.
2. Joint debate on fighting “Child sex tourism” and parliaments united in combating sexual violence against children: mid-term review of the ONE in FIVE Campaign
The PRESIDENT* – We now come to the joint debate on two reports from the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. The first is entitled “Fighting ‘child sex tourism’”, Document 13152, presented by Mr Ghiletchi; the second is entitled “Parliaments united in combating sexual violence against children: mid-term review of the ONE in FIVE Campaign, Document 13151, presented by Ms Bonet Perot.
We will aim to finish this item by about 6.45 p.m. I will therefore interrupt the list of speakers at about 6.30 p.m. for replies and voting. I remind members that they have three minutes in which to speak.
I call Mr Ghiletchi to present the first report. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.
Mr GHILETCHI (Republic of Moldova) – It is a great honour to present my first report as a member of the Parliamentary Assembly. I hear that today is children’s day in Turkey, so it is a special day on which we should celebrate children not only in Turkey but in Europe.
I am proud that the Parliamentary Assembly has always been a strong and solid defender of children's rights. Indeed, through its numerous resolutions and recommendations, the Assembly has continually restated the vital importance of protecting children’'s fundamental rights, and in particular, of protecting them against all forms of violence. For the past two and a half years, the Assembly has been actively involved in the Council of Europe’s ONE in FIVE campaign to stop sexual violence against children. That is made clear in Ms Bonet Perot’s mid-term review of the campaign, which we are debating together with my draft resolution on fighting child sex tourism.
Today, child sex tourism, as a specific form of the sexual exploitation of children, affects tens of thousands of children in the world and violates their fundamental rights and dignity. Unfortunately, and I would say shamefully, Europe is a major originating region for travelling sex offenders and, contrary to common belief, people who travel from one location to another to engage in sexual acts with children are not only paedophiles and “preferential” offenders who have an active sexual preference for children but “regular” people from all walks of life – even family men who have children themselves and would normally prefer adult sexual relations but abuse children purely through opportunity while they are in a foreign country.
Let us not make the mistake of believing that Europe is only the origin of such offenders, who go to south-east Asia, Latin America, South America or Africa to commit this terrible crime. Europe is also a region where child sex tourism occurs. Yes, our nationals travel across Europe to have sex with children. I believe we all agree that Council of Europe member States cannot turn a blind eye when their nationals violate the fundamental rights of children, whether it is within their own borders or beyond them. As a Parliamentary Assembly, we must ask member States to take measures to stop crimes committed by travelling sex offenders and to protect children against child sex tourism.
I remind colleagues that important standard-setting work has already been carried out at an international and regional level to protect children against sexual exploitation. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, its additional protocol on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography and the Council of Europe’s Lanzarote Convention are precious instruments in this field. We can only call on member States to sign and ratify those protective instruments against sexual exploitation and to ensure that their national law complies with the standards set by them. In that context, let me draw your attention to a recent decision of the court of appeal in Holland that allowed the Martijn paedophile association to be registered. That decision was taken in the name of freedom of expression, despite the fact that Holland ratified the Lanzarote Convention. Once paedophilia is registered in one country, how can a paedophile be prosecuted in another country? It makes the convention meaningless.
With the aim of combating child sex tourism, States should provide for the extraterritoriality principle and eliminate the usual dual criminality rule in conformity with the Lanzarote Convention. Without effective implementation, however, internationally agreed standards are a dead letter. States should therefore not only provide for the extraterritoriality principle but show their firm willingness to use it against travelling sex offenders. It is true that prosecuting trans-border offences such as child sex tourism can be very complex as sometimes the offender, the victim and the place where the offence was committed can be thousands of miles away from each other. However, such difficulties can be overcome if States strengthen their international co-operation and establish, for example, joint investigation teams for the prosecution of travelling sex offenders.
On prevention, I remind you that important work has already been carried out by governments, the private sector, international organisations and NGOs working in the field of child protection. Indeed, thanks to their efforts, there is a rising awareness of child sex tourism. Nevertheless, these efforts have to be continued and strengthened, not only to prevent individuals from becoming circumstantial offenders by engaging in sexual relations with children but to break the silence around child sex tourism by encouraging the public to report travelling sex offenders.
Unfortunately, awareness-raising has little or no effect on paedophiles and preferential offenders who show an active sexual preference for children. Furthermore, we should keep in mind not only that these offenders are generally well organised and will use a variety of means to get to children, including by working with them, but, worst of all, that they tend to reoffend. In working against such offenders States should attack the problem at its source. That means that they must prevent high-risk-sex offenders – namely individuals who have already committed a sexual offence against a child – from being able to travel abroad or having access to jobs where they will be mixing with children.
Last but not least, we should not forget about the important role that the tourism industry could and should play in the fight against child sex tourism. As individuals who are in direct contact with the tourists, tourism professionals have a unique part to play in getting the message through to tourists that sexual abuse of children is unacceptable and illegal. They can also receive reports from other tourists, distribute information materials to customers and report incidents to local police and NGOs who are active in the field.
Therefore, with a view to associating the tourism industry with the fight against child sex tourism, States should actively promote sustainable and ethical tourism, be respectful of children's rights and encourage the tourism industry to adhere to ethical tourism principles and practices. In the past, the industry has engaged in such practices by adopting self-regulation measures such as the Code of Conduct for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation in Travel and Tourism.
It is also essential to take action in the countries where children may be at risk of becoming victims of child sex tourism. Council of Europe member States have a responsibility to support actors involved in combating sexual tourism in the destination countries, even when these countries are outside their remit. This can be done through financial, logistical and technical support, including by assisting the countries concerned in raising the awareness of children and local communities on the issue of sexual exploitation of children as well as by developing education and alternative employment opportunities for vulnerable children and child victims of sex tourism.
I conclude by reminding everyone in the Chamber that child sex tourism is a global and fast-moving phenomenon and that it spares no one. No country or tourism destination is immune to this epidemic – an epidemic which, as one expert rightly said, “once law-enforcement capacity and legislation is strengthened in one part of the world, shifts towards other areas where protection is weaker”. However, I strongly believe that if all the Council of Europe member States implement the measures proposed in this resolution, we will have taken an immense step towards the eradication of child sex tourism. I shall finish with a quotation of Nelson Mandela, who said: “There can be no keener revelation of society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children”. Thank you very much for your attention.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much, rapporteur, for that excellent work. The applause that you can hear from your colleagues is a testament of its quality. I now call Ms Bonet Perot to present the second report.
Ms BONET PEROT (Andorra)* – Thank you, Mr President. We are here today to discuss a topic that is of great interest to all of us: how to protect our children against sexual abuse and sexual violence. I know that we all feel revulsion when we hear about this subject. The various member States of the Council of Europe have legislative measures and criminal codes in place to combat this phenomenon but that has not eradicated it. It is difficult for us to get accurate figures on offending but we note that the number of cases that are brought before the courts is increasing.
We want to condemn this type of violence and we have the Lanzarote Convention to do so. We started the ratification and signature procedure in 2007 and now there is only one country – the Czech Republic – that needs to sign up to it as well as a couple of countries that still need to ratify it. The Lanzarote Convention is a binding legal instrument that is applicable internationally and allows us to protect children holistically against sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. It also defines the crime of sexual abuse and includes new forms of crime, such as grooming.
The Lanzarote Convention focuses on five different areas preventing the sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children. It also seeks to protect the rights of children who have been the victims of sexual abuse and exploitation. It is also there to provide assistance and ensure that the perpetrators are brought before the courts. It promotes national and international programmes to fight this international scourge. It is also there to ensure that various population groups can be brought on board in this fight, including children.
The Council of Europe now has this campaign called ONE in FIVE, and it is very important that we have this campaign. We need parliamentary support, intergovernmental support and local authority support to roll out the campaign and to raise awareness of this phenomenon which we all feel very strongly about.
Sexual abuse and sexual exploitation can happen anywhere and the perpetrators have widely varying natures. I think that most of these cases involve people who enjoy a child’s trust or who are using social media networking tools to get to the children. We live in a society that is undergoing constant change and there are very sophisticated means by which people can gain access to children. Most children know the people who are abusing their trust; they know them through their families or social networks and they trust them. Children often do not report these crimes because they feel guilty themselves.
We launched the campaign in Rome in 2010 and it is important for us now to take stock. I think that this is the right time to consider the way in which we have rolled out the campaign and the benefits that we have gained in various countries. We have presented in the report a list of best practices. We have also provided a forum for discussion which is important for us all to use. We have also had meetings of parliamentarians and experts on violence against children where we have talked, for example, about the sexual abuse of children with disabilities and of children who are allegedly within a circle of trust. We have also talked about the fight against grooming. Those are just some of the topics that we have picked up on.
We have also produced a number of reports on rolling out the campaign and the way in which it has been organised in various countries. We had, for example, a conference on the protection of children in Greece. That followed an initiative taken by Michail Katrinis, a member of parliament from Greece. Martha Leticia Sosa Govea, a member of parliament from Mexico, has also taken part in the campaign. Germany has been involved with the participation of Marlene Rupprecht, who is General Rapporteur for Children for the Parliamentary Assembly. In addition, we have had various activities to support the campaign in Azerbaijan. Sevinj Fataliyeva was our contact parliamentarian for that initiative. There have been lots and lots of initiatives. I cannot possibly list them all, but they have all been important.
In addition, various documents have been produced, such as a handbook in several languages for members of parliament. It is important to ensure that it can be used by members of parliament and by legislators, because it outlines the best practice used by various member States. Pens and badges and various items of merchandise have been distributed to raise awareness. Forms of media are also important, such as our audio-visual tool. Preventing sexual abuse from happening in the first place is important, so we must reach out to our children. We also offer a video and a book and a musician has featured in our “Stop the Violence” material. That list of examples is not exhaustive and all the information can be found on the Council of Europe’s website, in particular on the ONE in FIVE campaign site.
I want to pick up on some important points from the report. We need to set aside a part of our budget to roll out the campaign all the way until 2014, which should not be problematic, because it is so important. We also want to support the Czech Republic on its way to ratifying and signing the convention, and we must continue to co-operate with all the countries that still need to ratify it. We also want to promote the convention in non-member States, which is what we did with the Istanbul Convention, for example. In addition, we need to share best practice from member States that have already initiated the campaign in order to encourage other countries to roll out similar campaigns, and we should continue to have meetings with contact parliamentarians, who need to look at the strategies drawn up by participating member States. I of course understand that not all strategies will be useful for other countries, but having such information is still important.
We also need to identify the indicators that will allow us to see how the phenomenon is developing, such as how often or how frequently children are abused and what measures are being taken to combat it. In particular, we need to look at the possibility of redress, including economic compensation, for not only young girls and boys but victims’ families. It also is important to ensure that the committee of the parties to the convention plays its role, because it is there to support the convention and should be able to act whenever infringements occur, such as in recent reports from the Netherlands. We need to take stock of the current situation, so that we can track the actual progress. The approach needs to be multilateral, inter-governmental and parliamentary and we need to bring local and regional authorities on board. In fact, the latter could help us to roll out the pact of towns and regions to stop sexual violence against children, which is another important instrument.
Finally, as we can see from the report, the efforts of the ONE in FIVE campaign did not come to an end with the signing and ratification of the Lanzarote Convention. That was just the beginning of a long journey. Protecting the rights of children and stopping their abuse and exploitation is our fundamental purpose.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I shall now open the debate. I remind everyone that the speaking time is limited to three minutes. I call Ms Guţu, on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Ms GUŢU (Republic of Moldova)* – On behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, I thank the two rapporteurs, Ms Bonet Perot and Mr Ghiletchi, for their work in preparing their reports.
Combating sexual violence against children is not at all straightforward. It is a challenge in a Europe that is increasingly turbulent, increasingly unitary in terms of values and norms and with increasingly free movement. It is, however, also a diverse Europe in terms of cultural and religious traditions and national legislations. With that in mind, the rapporteurs have rightly referred to the difficulties in harmonising national legislation to combat sexual violence against children, but that does not mean that we should not aspire to achieve it. The Council of Europe and its various bodies have put great effort into promoting the ONE in FIVE campaign since 2010. We have appealed to national parliaments to sign and ratify the Lanzarote Convention, and it has been requested that we increase the Council of Europe’s budget in order to continue such public awareness campaigns. All those points are at the core of the draft recommendation and resolution.
The scourge of sexual tourism affects above all the countries of eastern Europe, where national legislation does not already provide for criminal responsibility for the sexual abuse of children. The poverty of some such countries and the mass emigration of adults towards western Europe are furthering the problem of sex tourists. The frenetic quest for money at any price is prompting travel agencies to violate their code of ethics and the sexual abuse of children via the Internet is a real problem.
The need to institute zero tolerance against sexual violence against children is also an issue for societies and schools. With that in mind, special programmes need to be established to roll out campaigns in schools. Public awareness adverts should be shown on television and in cinemas. The private sector must contribute without reserve, because sexual violence against children is, even if not expressly intended by film producers, the result of certain films that often show scenes of unbridled violence.
All this action is necessary to ensure the effective prevention of violence against children and of criminal sex tourism, which is all too easy to see in the Republic of Moldova. Fortunately, our parliament recently passed an amendment to a criminal law, according to which sexual violence against minors is punishable by chemical castration. That is not an easy decision, but it is not easy to convince everyone of the need to take drastic measures to combat this phenomenon.
The Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe supports the draft resolution and the draft recommendation and it is for us in the Parliamentary Assembly to be the most effective messengers to our national parliaments, so that national legislation can be harmonised, as recommended by the rapporteurs.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Donaldson, on behalf of the European Democrat Group.
Mr DONALDSON (United Kingdom) – I welcome the report and congratulate my good friend, Mr Ghiletchi, and the work of the ONE in FIVE campaign, which we are happy to endorse and support.
As stated in the report, the sexual exploitation of children is a violation of their fundamental rights and their dignity. With low-cost travel and the expansion of online activity involving paedophiles, there has been a marked increase in child sex tourism. If the Council of Europe is serious about protecting the rights of children – I believe that we are – the issue needs to be a greater priority. The European Democrat Group endorses the call for committed legal action and policies to fight effectively against child sex tourism. The idea that there are people – the adults who indulge in child sex tourism or those who offer it for sale – who seek enjoyment or profit from the misery and suffering of children is absolutely repugnant and inhuman. If the protection of human rights is a meaningful concept, we must do all that we can to prevent it from happening.
In the United Kingdom, we have the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which is being placed at the heart of the new National Crime Agency. That means that we can be more effective not only in dealing with the issue at a national level but in terms of enhanced international co-operation. I encourage other countries to look at the CEOP model in the United Kingdom, which is at the forefront of tackling not only child sex tourism, but all the issues pertaining to the exploitation of children and sexual violence against children. Sex tourism is an issue that all member States of the Council of Europe should be committed to tackling. I join Mr Ghiletchi in encouraging all the States that have yet to do so to sign up to the convention, which the United Kingdom signed back in 2008. We agree that domestic laws should reflect international standards and should offer protection from sexual exploitation for all children up to the age of 18, regardless of the age of consent. That is a very important step that needs to be taken to protect children. Action is required not only at governmental level but in the private sector, as Mr Ghiletchi outlined. For example, NGOs and charities need to address this issue when they employ staff and take on volunteers.
The EDG is happy to endorse the report and the continuing work of the ONE in FIVE campaign, which we believe is central to our efforts here in the Council of Europe to tackle sexual violence against children.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Ms Backman, on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.
Ms BACKMAN (Iceland) – I begin by thanking the rapporteurs for their great work.
Available data suggest that about one in five children in Europe are victims of some form of sexual violence. It is now more important than ever that all countries ratify the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of the Child, as well as other international and regional agreements aimed at protecting children, including the Lanzarote Convention. These agreements must of course also be fully respected. Every country must open up a debate on sexual abuses against children, how terribly common they are and their grave consequences. Necessary arrangements to prevent these crimes from happening must be put in place, and they must apply to all children up to the age of 18.
There needs to be a clear structure in place for coherently dealing with abuses, with employees at every level being educated on the issue – from child care workers, teachers and health officials to civil servants, police officers, lawyers and judges alike. Once a country has opened up a debate on the issue, a large influx of cases is likely, both old and new. That has indeed been the experience in my home country, Iceland. In that regard, it is important to strengthen the judicial system so that it can handle the case load. Governments and national Parliaments should work closely together on all these issues.
We should also share best practices with each other and learn from each other’s experiences. For instance, the Children's House, Center for Child Sexual Abuse, in Iceland, has been a success. The basic concept of the Children’s House is to prevent subjecting the child to repeated interviews by many agencies in different locations. Research has shown that when this happens, it can be very traumatic for the child.
Further funding should be put into research on whether certain measures could effectively prevent individuals who have sexual urges towards children from committing offences against them. We should also start discussing how we intend to continue the ONE in FIVE campaign's work following its prospective end in 2015. This fight has to be a global one; otherwise, offenders will simply move from one country to another.
Lastly, I would like to draw attention to the responsibility of the porn industry, and up to a point the fashion and music industry. By portraying sexual images of children in media outlets, these industries are normalising sex with children. The Internet has greatly intensified this development, which we need to be fully aware of and fight against.
The Group of the Unified European Left supports the report.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Omtzigt, on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.
Mr OMTZIGT (Netherlands) – I thank Ms Backman, who I know is not standing for re-election, for her contribution to the Council of Europe.
I offer my thanks for two excellent reports on child sexual abuse. All of the speakers agree on this issue, and we have two beautiful reports – but what are we doing? I would like to go back to Resolution 1733, which we discussed in 2010, on reinforcing measures against sex offenders. We decided that we wanted to work together better in Europe, to co-operate, to make sure that things happen. What happened in the meantime? At the end of that same year, “Robert M”, from Latvia, was convicted in Germany of sexual offences. He was found in the Netherlands, having raped more than 60 children. There was a complete failure of three States, including mine, to work together to prevent that. So we can have beautiful words and phrases such as the proposal to establish a centralised database; but if we do not follow that up in the next three years, we will have another such case.
I invite all of us to work together, including the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, whose chairwoman is present, to make sure that such things do not happen again. Instead of just having a resolution that calls on us to act, we need another legal instrument.
Mr Ghiletchi rightly referred to the Martijn paedophile association. I am ashamed of them, and in the Dutch Parliament I am tabling a measure to make sure that associations that are led by convicted sex offenders do not have the right to exist, as is stipulated in the Lanzarote Convention. Yet when I tabled written questions to the Committee of Ministers, nothing was done. The matter was just referred to the Dutch authorities and was not even referred to the representatives of the parties to the convention.
So we have beautiful words – and we do very little. I invite the people responsible for the ONE in FIVE campaign and the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development to take over this practical work and to ask the Committee of the Parties to evaluate what the Parties to the Lanzarote Convention are doing in practice. I ask the committee to take the initiative and finally establish a way of exchanging information. There may be all sorts of legal issues, such as privacy, but they need to be solved. Let us start work.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Davies, on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – One in five of our children is likely to be a victim of sexual violence. With the sexualisation of children promoted in mainstream television and films, the downloading of child abuse images on the Internet and the greater movement of abusers through cheap air fares, we see a growing problem and growing challenge. We can all agree that the Lanzarote Convention is the right approach in combating exploitation, protecting children’s rights and promoting co-operation, but frankly, as the last speaker suggested, we need to raise our game. What about sharing DNA across borders? What about the possible universalisation of DNA? The use of DNA is a critical part of protecting children and hunting down criminals. What about credit card companies: should they not be fined for facilitating the downloading of child pornography? I introduced such a Bill in the United Kingdom Parliament, and I encourage others to do the same.
What about confiscating the passports of abusers? It is far too difficult to confiscate such passports, and the penalties are not enduring. In Britain, the previous Labour Government brought in passport confiscation for football hooligans and, overnight, hooliganism was reduced. We need to contain abusers and prevent them from abusing people across borders. What about “sexting”, and Facebook and Twitter abuse? We need a means of tracking these people down, booking them and getting them to pay for the violation of our children’s rights.
What about the smacking of children? In my view, it is outrageous that inter-generational violence is being legitimately pursued in all manner of countries, including Britain. We need to think again about that. What about the increase in poverty and the reduction in children’s services in the aftermath of the financial tsunami? The poorest are paying for the bankers’ mistakes and vulnerable children are emerging again without protection. What about forced marriages – serial sexual crime against children? What about Syria? There are 1.3 million refugees, half of whom are children, and many are open to sexual abuse and the attention of sexual abusers.
We need to identify the offenders, physically and electronically track what they are doing and look at DNA. We need to work together across all our agencies, public and private, and the film industry, to play our part and ensure that our children and our children’s children are protected and that we reverse this horrific trend towards sex tourism and abuse of children.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Davies. I call Mr Mendes Bota.
Mr MENDES BOTA (Portugal) – I congratulate both rapporteurs and I completely agree with all the proposals in Mr Ghiletchi’s report.
To talk about the problem of child sex tourism is inevitably to address the values crisis in modern society. There is something paradoxical about the plague of which we are every day more aware and towards the fighting of which we channel more and more money and resources. Despite all that, it still spreads. Yes, technology has made child sex images accessible to anyone and everyone. Yes, travel, as well as the gap between rich and poor, has brought such issues to our very doorsteps.
We must start by asking the painful questions that the issue evokes. It is no wonder that more and more of these famed travelling sex offenders, more and more child molesters everywhere, are among our more unsuspicious and reputable citizens – the high-profile businessman, lawyer, doctor or priest. Often they are celebrities and sometimes they are politicians. They can be people with high-profile jobs, successful careers and college educations – cultured and informed people who are often parents and husbands themselves. It is no surprise that so many modern sex offenders come from such unsuspicious walks of life.
Of course, many will rightly argue that paedophilia and child sex tourism are liable to happen anywhere in the world and involve a variety of protagonists. However, prostitution is still seen in many countries as something tolerable – even glorified, from a male perspective, as a ritual and hallmark of manliness. When one realises that at the same time a significant number of victims of prostitution are made up of under-age children – girls mostly, although also boys – we need to take vigorous and sometimes exceptional measures.
It makes sense to tackle gender inequality, violence against women and child abuse using the same co-ordinated approach, because the lines between them often blur into one another. Among some men, the historic perception still prevails – that a girl of 16 or 17 is to be regarded as being on the same footing as a woman of 35 and therefore fully accountable for her actions. But they are not; a girl of 16 or 17 is an under-age minor and her forced intercourse with a fully adult man is what it is – a crime punishable by law and a dirty spot on the image of tourism.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Mendes Bota. I call Ms Blondin.
Ms BLONDIN (France)* – I congratulate the rapporteurs. Ms Bonet Perot’s report takes stock of the ONE in FIVE campaign, which I have had the honour of leading in the French parliament. Since November 2010, we have seen some success, as has been borne out by the number of ratifications of the Lanzarote Convention. A covenant of towns and regions has been established to put an end to sexual violence against children.
However, we need to go much further. Local authorities must set up dedicated structures to prevent and combat the phenomenon with the support of public services – schools, leisure centres, the police, the justice system and the media. We must also focus on the manifold repercussions of sexual violence against children. There has been much speaking out against incest in recent years, but other subjects remain taboo. I am thinking of observable sexual violence among adolescents or similar abuse in sport.
In recent years, our Assembly has been galvanised about the excesses in sport – too much money, doping or match fixing. Racism and stadium violence are the only social problems that it has addressed; it has not taken enough interest in what can happen in the seclusion of the changing room – goading and humiliation in some cases, and sexual violence in others.
In sport, the relationship with the body is special, and parents seem to be less vigilant on the grounds that sport is good for us. Denouncing sexual violence in sport is a complex process. The victims fear for the future of their careers and complain only much later, as has recently been seen in France.
Exchange of good practice on this issue among member States is essential. In France, the sports ministry has established a charter on the subject that takes up a number of Council of Europe recommendations among others. It is high time we went further. Why not make use of high-level sportspeople in a media campaign?
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Ms Clune.
Ms CLUNE (Ireland) – I congratulate the rapporteurs on the valuable reports. Mr Ghiletchi’s report shines a light on an upsetting area that we need to bring to the fore. We need to highlight the fact that child sex tourism is a fact of life and exists among people from all backgrounds and all creeds and none – even among those who are parents themselves. It is everywhere. We need national as well as international co-operation to tackle the crime.
I have attended ONE in FIVE campaign meetings since I became a member of parliament. The campaign has been active in highlighting the issue of child sexual abuse and the fact that one in five of our children will become victims of sexual abuse. Most importantly, we need to keep reminding ourselves that the abuse happens within a circle of trust. The individuals are known to the children, whether as carers, family members or family friends. We need to continue to highlight the issue. We need to concentrate on the Internet and social media and highlight the difficulties. That is an enormous challenge, but young people are easy prey and can be targeted and groomed in the privacy of their own homes. We need to create awareness among parents and carers of the potential difficulties and the fact that no child is safe.
There is also the issue of child abuse images. Every such image is a crime against a child and those who repeat them are repeating a crime and partaking in it. We should support those who try to tackle that crime; I am thinking of those who try to block child abuse images from the Internet. It can be done; we had a campaign in Ireland on the issue. Those who want to get around such restrictions will do so, but there is always the casual individual who comes across an image of an abused child, whose interest is heightened and who may become a perpetrator of heinous crimes. This is an important area that we in the Council of Europe must look for a means of dealing with. In my country, we had a very important children’s rights referendum last October that finally put the rights of children at the heart of our constitution. It was supported by government, by parliament and by members of civic society, and it passed by a very large majority.
Mr DÍAZ TEJERA (Spain)* – We are addressing an issue that is not the reserve of the law or of the right or the left. It is not a religious issue alone; it is an issue for all democrats in protecting the most vulnerable part of the population – children and minors. Adults are well enough developed to know when to say no, but children are the most fragile and vulnerable strata of the population. We are not just talking about physical violence or guardianship but about something much more profound that affects the very lives of children. In relation to criminal fields such as terrorism, piracy and so on, we have done away with borders so that universally no border is recognised in those fields. In this case, we are dealing with the same sort of issue. There is no limit in relation to territory or on the need to prosecute.
This is not about debating among ourselves to determine rhetorically who should have the greatest blame for this abject crime. It is a matter of concern to all of us as democrats, and the question is the contribution we can make. The Lanzarote Convention makes its own modest contribution. The current suggestion arises in the light of the experience that we have had in Spain with female genital mutilation. Some parents were taking their children to another country for FGM, and then when they came back to Spain, they could not be prosecuted because what had happened took place outside Spain’s territory. In the conventional scheme of sovereignty, we needed to change paragraph 24(3) of the relevant law so that there would be no geographical or temporal limitation.
We need to prosecute this offence not only in the substantive terms of the law but through the investigation teams, who should not face any limits in pursuing prosecution. This is not just about someone in isolation with his or her mental problems; it is about organised crime. If there is organised crime, it is because there is a lot of money to be gained, and if there is a lot of money to be gained, there is organised crime. These criminal networks have their own lawyers and mercenaries; they have juries at their service. The intelligence of democrats requires that we create the necessary machinery and arsenal to attack this sort of crime. There should be no statutory limitations on these crimes because they are crimes against humanity.
Ms ANTTILA (Finland) – I thank our rapporteurs for their good report on this very important issue.
Child sex tourism has dramatically increased in recent years. One in five children is estimated to fall victim to sexual violence. This is a violation of children’s fundamental rights and dignity. We cannot accept this phenomenon, which is a growing problem globally. The Lanzarote Convention is the most advanced and comprehensive legally binding instrument at international level on protecting children from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse. It will be the key to ending this scourge.
I would like to emphasise the use of the Internet in this respect. Older men are trying to contact very young girls and children via the Internet or mobile phone. They do not give their real age, which can be much older than they say. This is a serious and growing problem. It is too easy to contact girls and children online. How can we avoid it? It is not easy because we do not have enough tools for controlling Internet discussions. Of course parents must take care of their children but they cannot always fight these problems. Our children need good, permanent, reliable human relationships apart from their parents, sisters, brothers, grandparents and so on. Children must have a good safety net surrounding them. In Finland we have very good experiences of using the police to control Internet discussions. We need a lot of new resources in this sector in order to have more policemen to work online. We also need new legislation to provide new tools of control for these Internet policemen.
The ONE in FIVE campaign is very good because it promotes and raises awareness of the need to act to protect children from all forms of sexual exploitation. In Finland our Minister of Justice is preparing legislation to make criminal all kinds of purchase of sexual services. We need a ban in order to reduce the problem. I invite all member States of the Council of Europe to criminalise the purchase of all kinds of sexual services, as we are planning to do in Finland.
Ms FATALIYEVA (Azerbaijan) – I thank both rapporteurs for the very important and valuable work that they have done.
While it might not seem this way in some developed countries, child sex tourism is a significant issue around the world, and it still manages to exist under the radar of public health authorities. Sex tourism is a global issue affecting millions of people’s lives. It makes victims of people who find themselves at the mercy of networks and middlemen who treat them like sexual and commercial objects. But sex tourism hides an even darker reality because, according to statistics, it involves children in 40% to 50% of cases. World estimates show that sexual exploitation disrupts the lives of some 2 million children, most of them girls, who are robbed of their basic rights to dignity, safety, health and education. Money or goods and services received in exchange do not necessarily wind up in the hands of the children but rather third parties – middlemen, networks and parents who profit from this business arrangement.
A number of social, economic and cultural factors contribute to the growth of child prostitution. Poverty is the main factor, but gender discrimination and low levels of education also play a role. Poverty, a lack of education and high demand are some of the factors fuelling the phenomenon, which is present in many countries worldwide. The problem is more pronounced in developing countries in south and south-east Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, Africa and eastern Europe, which are receiving a growing number of foreign visitors. This demand is created by travellers who have a premeditated plan as well as by those who spontaneously decide to have an “exotic” experience and conventionally ignore the rules that they would respect in their country of origin.
I welcome the report by Mr Ghiletchi, which is primarily qualitative in nature. I strongly believe that it will serve as an effective tool in solving this problem. I congratulate Ms Bonet Perot on the successful work that she is doing. The ONE in FIVE campaign is progressing very rapidly and successfully. During these two years a lot of work has been done. The most important aspect is that because of this campaign many of us, and many of our countries, became able to speak loudly in admitting to the child sexual abuse in our countries.
Ms VIROLAINEN (Finland) – I, too, thank both rapporteurs for two excellent and extremely important reports.
When it comes to protecting our children from grave human rights violations, we are not allowed any compromises. The report paints a grim picture. When sex offenders are stopped in their home countries, they travel abroad in search of potential victims, most of whom are young girls from poor backgrounds. Some offenders even sexually exploit disabled children – something I find beyond repulsive. We are talking about defenceless human beings who should be under the protection of an adult. We urgently need common international standards and norms, as well as measures to help the victims and prevent trauma. Treating sexually exploited children as criminals is unacceptable and completely irresponsible. According to a recent study, more than 30% of girls in Finland aged between 15 and 17 have experienced disturbing sexual invitations and harassment online. As a result, the Finnish authorities have launched the “My body – I decide” campaign to encourage young people to define their own limits and speak out about violations of their human rights. The campaign runs mostly online. To raise awareness further, we must keep this issue high on the agenda and make it an integral part of public debate.
The Finnish Parliament is currently considering a government proposal to allow remote surveillance and wire-tapping to be used in investigating suspected child sexual exploitation cases, especially the online ones. I welcome the proposal, but in a globalised world national measures are not enough; the key to fighting child sex tourism is a worldwide condemnation of the phenomenon and binding international rules. Sex offenders must be considered as sex offenders regardless of where in the world they are.
To come back to Mr Omtzigt’s speech, may I say that we have wonderful laws but we need to implement them? That work needs to be started very soon. Being a responsible adult means discussing difficult questions, so I wish to raise the issue of banning sexual services altogether. How can we explain to our children that sex is not something you can buy or sell, given that millions of adults around the world do so every day? I certainly cannot explain that to my daughter.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Virolainen. I call Ms Blanco.
Ms BLANCO (Spain)* – First and foremost, I thank Ms Bonet Perot and Mr Ghiletchi for their excellent work. We are here to take stock of our ONE in FIVE campaign, and the situation is clear. Although the data we have are not definitive, we understand that one in every five children – young girls, young boys and adolescents – is the victim of violence. We are not talking about just any old violence; as my colleague Mr Díaz Tejera said, these children are the victims of sexual violence. It is painful for all of us to witness this.
Obviously, this abuse is nothing new – it has been going on for thousands of years – but we know a lot more about it now. Not only do we know that it is going on, but we have a great many means to deal with one of the worst scourges that can affect humanity. That is precisely why we know that there are people who have been turning a blind eye to these forms of abuse for decades – they have therefore been complicit – and there has been no denunciation and no reporting. We now have the Lanzarote Convention, and it is a good thing that we do, as it is a wonderful instrument. It needs not only to be signed by the one country yet to do so, but to be ratified by all the member States that have not yet ratified it. That needs to go ahead.
We have a social, economic and political crisis at the moment and, unfortunately, that has an impact on this scourge – it has become even worse because of the crisis. There are young girls and young boys, particularly in the poorest countries, who are so vulnerable, and they are the victims. They are easy targets – easy prey. They fall into the hands of these people who are carrying out odious acts and abusing the human condition. We are talking not only about men who live in those countries, but about men who, primarily, live in the first world. They are the residents of the so-called civilised world and they travel abroad to commit their heinous acts. So it is important for us to tackle this topic, not only because it affects us – our young boys, girls and adolescents. We also need to act on behalf of those who are suffering the most in the most impoverished countries – they are the most vulnerable victims of all.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Blanco. I call Mr Kayatürk.
Mr KAYATÜRK (Turkey)* – It is a good coincidence that today is 23 April, as that date was gifted to Turkish children by the founder of Turkey and we then started celebrating it as international children’s day. Every year about 100 countries send their children to Turkey on that day for the celebration, and I congratulate all the children. I wish to convey my sincere appreciation of both rapporteurs’ high-quality and rigorous work on the delicate issue of the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. The topic has to be tackled with the utmost attention, given that there has been a vast increase in the number of cases uncovered in Council of Europe member States in recent years. Many more cases probably remain hidden because of the sensitive nature of the issue.
Unfortunately, child sex tourism is a global phenomenon that occurs worldwide. The sexual exploitation of children by tourists affects tens of thousands of children in the world, violating their fundamental rights and dignity. Children must be protected from those who want to steal their childhood, because those who are abused hardly recover. The matter is now being considered more attentively, which is a positive development, but it is essential to continue increasing awareness nationally and in the international community. I put a high value on the ONE in FIVE campaign. In order to build a Europe for and with children, we have to focus on this soul-destroying theme. The campaign’s reach so far is utterly commendable, and I hope that its outreach and effectiveness step up further in the remaining two years.
Before ending my contribution, I wish to express my gladness that the Lanzarote Convention was ratified by Turkey and has come into force. I invite all member States and non-member States to ratify the convention and to take all necessary steps for its implementation.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Mr Kayatürk. I call Ms Goryacheva.
Ms GORYACHEVA (Russian Federation)* – While travelling to Strasbourg I read an interesting article entitled “A precious burden”, which referred to how animals carefully look after their offspring. What can the greatest creation of nature – humanity – boast of today? It can boast of wars, the global defiling of adolescents and the extraction of phenomenal profits from trading in the most defenceless of living commodities, children.
Of course we are grateful to the initiators and the rapporteurs for their work on this complex and extremely topical issue, and we support the recommendation and resolution. I wish to dwell on three points, which are the scale, main reasons for and possible consequences of mass violence against children. This has already been stated but let me repeat it, as we need to think about it: every one child in five in the world is subject to violence, including sexual violence. Counties divide into two basic groups in this regard: States where there is a demand for sex with children, which, as a rule, are the developed countries; and the rest, beginning with the countries of south-east Asia, which are more often than not the suppliers of this living child commodity. The developed countries receive their dubious sexual gratification for money while the poor, developing countries, like minions, destroy their own gene pool. Three million sex tourists migrate across the world, and one in six of them is in search of sexual contact with children. However, those figures are clearly on the low side. There is a whole army of go-betweens for sex on the Internet who guarantee anonymity and, therefore, the evasion of jail.
It would appear that in recent years the efforts of States have become more resolute, more stringent and more co-ordinated, but paedophilia, like a cancerous tumour, is gaining more and more ground. The reason is simple: phenomenal profits and minimal financial costs make this criminal business very lucrative and almost unassailable. The experts reckon that it generates up to $100 billion a year – more than drugs. That sum is more than sufficient not only to live a life of luxury and seek to justify paedophilia but also to force politicians and law enforcement bodies to serve the interests of a global web. That has been borne out by the recent legalisation by a Dutch court regarding a public organisation openly advocating paedophilia, as it should be referred to in this Chamber.
What awaits humanity, which has lost its social compass and sense of self-preservation? Embittered, mutilated and corrupted, adolescents will be adults tomorrow, some will even be politicians. Will they refrain from avenging their suffering and their abused childhoods? What morality will they bring in future? It really is the case that one reaps what one sows, and the harvest is not so far off, so we need to match our words with deeds.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. Ms Bakoyannis and Mr Bugnon are not here. I call Mr Sidyakin.
Mr SIDYAKIN (Russian Federation)* – I follow an excellent speech by a member of the Russian delegation. Of course, I welcome both the reports. The applause that we heard is the best affirmation of the fact that the subject that we are dealing with today is very close to our hearts. We are all parents and we cannot even imagine such a thing happening to our own children. That leads us to be rather emotional on the subject and to be baffled as to how this activity could even be possible. I support the “4 Ps” approach in the report setting out policy for international co-operation, which needs to be enhanced.
In the USSR, in some republics of central Asia, way back when, marriages were allowed for 12, 13 and 14-year-old girls. Fortunately, all that is now in the past, and marriages are not allowed before the age of 18. I am happy to say that, 10 days ago, the president sent two documents to our parliament for ratification: the Lanzarote Convention and the United Nations additional protocol on the rights of the child. I will be delighted to go home after this part-session and vote in favour of ratifying both documents.
The report rightly points out that the donors of children who become the objects of sex tourism tend to be the poorest countries in eastern Europe and south-east Asia. There is a wide geography involved. Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand are source countries. Many cases are then seen in the media. We have talked about the violation of human rights in the Magnitsky case. One of our celebrities recently went to Thailand on holiday. We should have a list named after him; I would vote in favour of it, and the whole delegation would support it. Paragraph 6.1.3 of the draft resolution talks about mechanisms that will prevent such criminals from leaving the country, and we would certainly support that 100%.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Rouquet.
Mr ROUQUET (France)* – I thank the rapporteurs for the two reports, which are concerned with particularly odious, hateful acts, namely sexual violence against children, including sex tourism. France has a broad range of legislative instruments that allow us to respond to acts of sexual violence against children in France. Furthermore, they allow us to deal with child sex tourism in cases where the perpetrators are French people abroad. Recently we saw the transposition into French legislation of Directive 2011/93, the purpose of which is to harmonise European law on the issue of sexual violence against children. If we are to take into account the real progress achieved by the Lanzarote Convention, we must recognise that those are real steps in the right direction.
I take note of the proposal of our colleague, Ms Karamanli, who seeks to criminalise the fact of attending a pornographic performance that involves a child and to cover attempted sexual abuse. Those notions did not exist in French law previously.
Sex tourism is a very complex problem, and the fight against it requires that many tiers and actors be brought on board. Many people have to intervene – the local police force, tour operators, the courts of the country of origin of the culprit and NGOs present in the children’s country of origin. Co-operation is therefore a sine qua non.
In France, people in the tourism trade have now taken note of the fact that there is a need to promote ethical tourism, and indeed a handbook has been drawn up to help people to report cases of sexual exploitation in hotels, thanks to a project between Accor and ECPAT France. Similarly, Air France now broadcasts a video on the theme, “A child is not a holiday souvenir”. Yet too many children in Europe are victims of sexual violence. Why is that? Often it is because the crime is reported too late or children’s voices are simply not heard, so we need to make a real effort in that respect. In France, we now have a free hotline number, 119, which makes it easier to report these crimes. However, that in itself is not enough. We need prevention and effective awareness-raising.
For all the above reasons, we should promote our campaign – ONE in FIVE – as many speakers have already said. It could be a precious tool to help us explain and prevent sexual abuse. Prevention will also allow us to make sure that children are given a real voice, and it will allow us to raise awareness among those who might be witnesses or who suspect acts of violence against children. Unfortunately, when it comes to prevention, children’s participation has been all too limited to date.
Children’s voices and opinions must be taken on board. Children are an integral part of the solution when it comes to prevention and to protecting children against violence, whatever form it may take.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Ms Kyriakides.
Ms KYRIAKIDES (Cyprus) – Advocating a cause entails joining voices to make a difference, and this has successfully changed beliefs and many other aspects of societies over the years. Advocating children’s rights means becoming a voice for children and adolescents, allowing them to participate in decision making and promoting their rights as specified by the UN convention of children’s rights. Despite much that has been done, children's rights are still not respected globally. Children continue to die of malnutrition and disease; disabled children do not have access to the quality care that they are entitled to; and children are abused physically, sexually and emotionally. Sexual abuse and the exploitation of children have been locked up in a Pandora’s box for too long. Societies in our member States did not address those activities and often denied that they were happening, so they went unrecognised.
Children are sexually abused and exploited not only within their own families but in the tourism industry, of which abuse has unfortunately become a very lucrative and extremely disturbing aspect. Free movement, the Internet and poverty have put children at risk of being seen as sexual commodities, with considerable financial gain for those doing the exploiting and immeasurable harm for the child. Let us be clear: there can be no element of free will or choice where child sexual abuse and exploitation are concerned. That is an argument expressed by the offenders, and it is unacceptable. The problem that we face and what we need to do are stated clearly in Mr Ghiletchi’s excellent report, which describes a difficult subject concisely and firmly. I thank him sincerely.
The Lanzarote Convention on the Protection of Children against Exploitation and Sexual Abuse has become a banner for many Council of Europe member States. It has set the height of the bar of what we need to do. As previous speakers have said, we need to do much more. The ONE in FIVE campaign has raised the flag for our children in all our countries. It has raised awareness. It also provides expertise, unites parliamentarians in an effort to open Pandora’s box, and encourages governments to sign and ratify the convention. I thank our rapporteur for an excellent mid-term report, but we need to intensify our efforts at all levels.
The Council of Europe has a programme called “Building a Europe for and with Children”. The ONE in FIVE campaign will change the lives of children. As child sexual abuse knows no boundaries, we need to join our hands and our voices and advocate zero tolerance. Only then can we say that we are building a better Europe for our children.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Belyakov.
Mr BELYAKOV (Russian Federation)* – I am afraid that I might be the only one who is not quite satisfied with the reports and with the format of our discussion. They are all a bit declaratory. What is the point of discussing sexual violence against children if, during our discussions, 10 children in Europe – two in Russia – will have suffered it in that time?
It is all very well talking about the problems. When I started a campaign about paedophilia in Russia, no one wanted to listen. I could not even get hold of the statistics about that crime. When I did get them, they were appalling. There is now some movement forward, and there is a draft law, which I proposed to the Russian parliament, about liability in such cases. We have passed a law on chemical castration and a law recommending action on how the State can block Internet sites that have pornographic content. Nevertheless, 50 people a day in Russia become victims of sexual violence.
Apart from the legal aspect of the matter, I do not think that the medical aspect has been stressed enough; I have had some medical training. Paedophilia is a psychiatric condition. Patients have an instinct to humiliate children. Whatever their nationality, they often come out of prison and repeat the crime. Some 90% reoffend.
Why is there sex tourism? It is because those people want children, and it is difficult for us to stop them. We must have an open international database to identify such criminals. The only real measure is either much longer sentences or physical or chemical castration, which I am in favour of. In the Czech Republic, there has been no recidivism among such criminals in 30 years.
We were talking about extra-territorial jurisdiction. We ought to be able to pursue such crimes in any territory, wherever the paedophile lives or is active. We need to work together as destination and sending countries. The legalisation of same-sex marriages in France is no step forward in that respect.
We need to combat organised crime and take effective measures, because all the children of the world cry in the same language.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Yatim from Morocco, Partner for Democracy.
Mr YATIM (Morocco)* – I thank the two rapporteurs for their excellent reports. I want to share some thoughts with you and to tell you about the situation in Morocco.
Violence against children is a topical matter; people are talking a lot about it at the moment. We have a number of programmes, and our legislative and political authorities have taken some decisions. Inspired by the Council of Europe, with which the Moroccan parliament has a partnership, a law was enacted – Law 148-12 – concerning the protection of children against exploitation and sexual abuse. The new law will improve Moroccan legislation and bring it up to European standards. Morocco has also adopted a number of programmes. That proves that the whole society is aware of the phenomenon. We know how important it is, in a State governed by the rule of law, to protect children.
Transparency is also important, and it is now being improved. Until now, there has been silence regarding such problems – it was taboo. Now, there is transparency. Our authorities and civil society have taken note of the phenomenon. Civil society is playing an increasingly important role in democratic development. Unfortunately, the number of exploitation and sexual abuse cases is increasing. In 2009, there were 4 700 cases in Casablanca. Between 2007 and 2010, an association in Rabat registered more than 1 000 cases involving paedophilia.
We now have a law in place, under which a perpetrator will be sentenced to anything between five and 30 years in prison. That being said, the law in itself is not enough to resolve the problem. Notwithstanding the efforts that have been undertaken by the administration – we set up a programme in 1994 – since 2001 there have been many cases of paedophilia and prostitution involving tourists and foreign residents in Morocco. We should focus on prevention, and we would be more than happy to co-operate with your programme.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Ms Zappone.
Ms ZAPPONE (Ireland) – I commend Mr Ghiletchi for his excellent report.
It is shocking to me, as I have heard that it is shocking to all who have spoken, that the appalling phenomenon of individuals sexually abusing children when travelling outside their own countries is on the increase. Tackling that form of exploitation and abuse requires a comprehensive and rights-based approach.
We must look at promoting and protecting all the rights of our children. The report highlights that child sex abuse tourism is intrinsically linked to other forms of child exploitation, such as prostitution, pornography and trafficking, and that the children who are most vulnerable to such exploitation come from backgrounds of poverty, low education, homelessness, abuse and neglect. A rights-based approach would involve looking at both the violations and the root causes, and I would welcome an increased focus on children’s human rights in the resolution and in our work on the issue.
Ensuring that we have the strongest legal protection framework in place is also vital. In that regard, the report is complemented by the excellent report of Ms Bonet Perot on the ONE in FIVE campaign, in which she highlighted the good work done so far to combat sexual violence against children.
Her report points out, however, that a considerable number of States have failed to ratify the Lanzarote Convention. Unfortunately, my own country of Ireland is among them. Ireland has not ratified the convention or the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. It has not, to date, transposed the European Union directive on combating the sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children. All of them are integral aspects of the legal framework. I will raise that in the Irish Parliament. My colleague, Ms Clune, has indicated that the people in a referendum have placed the rights of children at the heart of our constitution, and I hope that that will encourage the government to take action to establish this important legal framework. I encourage national human rights institutions to promote the ratification of the Lanzarote Convention, which is an important instrument, in co-operation with specialised national bodies, and I encourage this Assembly to ensure a greater harmonisation of approach in the recommendations to member States between both reports.
All our countries, and all of us, could be doing much more to combat child sex tourism, as many of you have already said. We can and should be doing more awareness raising. The high number of circumstantial offenders indicates that a more concerted awareness-raising effort by member States is warranted and potentially effective. Measures such as closer co-operation with Internet service providers in targeting websites that facilitate this form of abuse and ensuring provision of medical and psychological support for victims and vulnerable children should also be included as recommendations in the resolution.
Finally, we need to ensure harmonisation in our approach to child exploitation in all its forms, and we call on member States to co-ordinate their efforts in tackling these critical issues.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Mr Farina.
Mr R. FARINA (Italy)* – I thank colleagues for their reports, which have the merit of being shocking but dispassionate, so making them more hard hitting. I would like to tell you about my country – Italy. First, I am proud of an objective fact: the ONE in FIVE project was launched in 2010 and very much promoted by our Italian Minister. According to reliable statistics, 80 000 Italians indulge every year in sex tourism, which inevitably involves minors. There are 80 000 such criminals per year, but efforts to prosecute them are laughable. Since 1998, Italy has had a law that gives long sentences for sex tourism against minors, even when committed abroad, but in the first 10 years of its application one person was convicted in Italy, one person was convicted in Colombia and one in Cambodia. So only three people out of 80 000 were convicted, which is basically impunity.
We should have a massive effort to stamp out sex tourism, and our investment in doing so should be comparable to what we do to combat terrorism. Victims of sex tourism are numbered in their millions – more than the victims of terrorism – so why is there not the same political will? I am not simply pointing the finger at member States, because States are the embodiment of their populations, so there is something within us, yet we are also saying that we must engage in this campaign.
A second figure that applies to all countries, not only Italy, is that the average age of those who perpetrate this terrible crime is coming down. The largest number can be found among 18 to 30-year-olds. So where are we going wrong? What is happening here when television shows us all these tragic documentaries and the testimony of children in Santo Domingo, Thailand, Cambodia and so on, but younger people are falling into this error? Why is that true? We cannot condemn sexual tourism with credibility if we lose sight of the value of the individual as a unique person. We should not reduce sexuality just to a game or purely and simply a pleasure. We must link it to the value of the person and to a genuine and lasting love.
There is no certainty any more about what is good and what is bad. According to research, virtually no one realises that what they are doing is evil. None of them seems to admit that; they hide behind saying, “Oh, it is a custom in this country. We are helping the families, giving them a bit of money.” A massive social condemnation of that is needed. This is not really about sick paedophiles. These people are driven not by some kind of illness but by something else, which is not opposed. That is the most serious thing. Until there is a campaign against this form of crime, just as we campaign against terrorism, everything that we say here is hypocritical and governments will do things that they do not believe in.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Ms Kyriakidou.
Ms KYRIAKIDOU (Cyprus) – First, I congratulate the rapporteurs on their excellent report and the secretariat. The subjects that we are debating here today cover an important part of the work done by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development in respect of the ONE in FIVE campaign and the protection of children’s rights.
The debate is all the more timely as it occurs in the midst of an unprecedented economic crisis, which has made the situation of marginalised or vulnerable persons, including children, even more precarious. Austerity measures and strict budgetary restrictions imposed on governments facing increased solvency problems leave very scarce resources to alleviate social problems. Hence social problems, such as those we are discussing here today, grow and intensify. We must do our utmost to keep up the pressure on the executive power in our respective countries, so that governments do not renege on previous commitments and arrangements, as defined by the various international legal instruments that they have become party to.
More than half of the Council of Europe’s member States have already ratified the Lanzarote Convention, which provides the reference point of all our efforts within the parliamentary network of contact parliamentarians that has been actively engaged in promoting the campaign and its materials since its launch in Rome in November 2010.
We will all agree that a lot remains to be done. However, the fact that additional funds have been allocated to the campaign, so that it can continue its awareness-raising activities, among other initiatives, for another couple of years is a very positive development. I sincerely hope that, by the end of the campaign, all member States of this Organisation will have signed and ratified the Lanzarote Convention.
Sexual exploitation of children by individuals who travel from place to place to engage sexually with children under the age of 18 is indeed a worrisome phenomenon that has flourished. Unfortunately, many of these sex tourists are nationals of our own countries. Shortcomings in legislation, the vulnerability of children exposed to poverty, the effects of materialism on children and the role of the tourism industry are all factors that need to be taken into account when trying to formulate effective ways of combating sex tourism.
We must resolutely understand that, even though some of these crimes may happen outside our own national borders, they may be carried out by our own nationals. We must apply the rule of zero tolerance. A particularly useful recommendation contained in the draft text pertains to the abolition of the dual criminality rule for child sexual exploitation cases. We must shut off all possible windows of opportunity that sex offenders may exploit to minimise their offences and we must bolster transnational co-operation if we truly want to take a meaningful step in our efforts to save our children from prostitution, exploitation, pornography or trafficking for sexual purposes.
THE PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much. I call Ms Bulajić.
Ms BULAJIĆ (Serbia)* – It is indeed a pleasure to support the reports because of their contents, concluding remarks and recommendations. By launching the ONE in FIVE campaign, the Council of Europe certainly reached out to the widest possible audience and welcomed a broad partnership base at intergovernmental, parliamentary, regional and local levels. The biggest success of the campaign so far has undoubtedly been the significant increase in the number of ratifications of the Lanzarote Convention, but no less is the firm commitment of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development to step up the campaign’s outreach and effectiveness even further, so that sexual violence against children is met with zero tolerance.
In my view, particularly important is the Assembly’s support for the recommendation to the Committee of Ministers to allocate adequate financing from the ordinary budget of the Council of Europe, rather than leaning on the generous voluntary contributions of member States. It is therefore crucial to incorporate the theme of combating all forms of violence against children into the Council of Europe’s assistance and co-operation programmes, paying special attention to local and regional authorities, NGOs and youth organisations that are active in the field. It is no less important to devise a strategy to find the means to offer redress to the victims, as it is vital to maintain a dynamic parliamentary dimension and to keep up the momentum to ensure continued progress at the end of the official campaign, which is envisaged for November 2014.
Let me remind you that Serbia was among the first countries to ratify the Lanzarote Convention and take part in the ONE in FIVE campaign, in recognition of the pressing need to prevent violence against children and promote the rights of the child. Since then, Serbia has made a great improvement in implementing the obligations it undertook, including the recent adoption of the law on special measures for the prevention of crimes against the sexual freedom of minors. The legislation gathered together the ruling coalition and the opposition in rescinding the statute of limitations on sex offences against children and enforcing mechanisms for the keeping of records and measures of control of former perpetrators of sexual offences against children, among other things. Such an effort will certainly not mark the end of activities to implement the Lanzarote Convention and Serbia will remain committed to giving further support to collaborative working by the State and the civic and private sectors to synchronise activities in good faith and the best interest of the children.
Let me conclude by citing the verse from our renowned composer Aleksandra Kovač’s song, the official anthem of the ONE in FIVE campaign, and implore you all always to “Stop the silence”.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. I call Ms Borzova.
Ms BORZOVA (Russian Federation) – I thank Mr Ghiletchi and the other authors for this very important work on preventing sexual violence against children. The draft recommendation and the scope of the work carried out by these parliamentarians are important for all countries, including members and non-members of the Council of Europe. The work is aimed at catalysing the efforts of governments to harmonise national and international legislation.
I want to focus on the intensive efforts being made in my country. The timetable for the adoption of the important documents will allow you to understand how significant the work is. On 1 October 2012, the Russian Federation signed the Lanzarote Convention. It is a unique document that not only contains international standards and recommendations and summarises the experience of combating violence but forces States to change their domestic policies. Russia also signed the optional protocol on the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. As you have heard from my colleagues, the President of the Russian Federation submitted the documents to the Duma and on 26 April – this week – we will ratify and adopt those very important documents.
It is vital to harmonise and improve domestic legislation and the human rights ombudsman is working in all the constituent parts of the Russian Federation – all over our vast country. We have introduced significant changes to the criminal code and criminal responsibility has been established for obtaining sexual services from minors. We have introduced significant changes to the administrative code and administrative responsibilities have been imposed on legal entities as regards conditions for trafficking in children, the exploitation of children and the production of materials with pornographic representations of minors. The efforts of all parliamentarians, NGOs, harmonising legislation, the media and others should contribute to finding a solution to this serious problem in Europe.
(Ms de Pourbaix-Lundin, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in the place of Mr Mignon.)
The PRESIDENT – The next speaker is Mr Boden.
Mr BODEN (Luxembourg)* – I congratulate Ms Bonet Perot and Mr Ghiletchi on their excellent reports.
My country, Luxembourg, signed up to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and ratified it some 20 years ago. On 16 July 2011, Luxembourg approved the Lanzarote Convention and the optional protocol to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child against prostitution and pornography involving children. Criminal law was therefore brought in line with the requirements of the Council of Europe and of the United Nations. A law passed on 21 February brought our national law into line with the requirements of the directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the fight against sexual violence and the sexual abuse or exploitation of children and child pornography. There were measures on immoral acts, rape and aggravating circumstances, particularly when such violations involved children. We also have legislation on exploitation, prostitution and child prostitution, with measures on aggravating circumstances that reflect the age of the child.
In a law enacted in 2008, Parliament made clear the prohibition of sexual violence, including inhumane or degrading treatment or forms of genital mutilation. That shows that the higher interest of the child must always be taken into account. That is reflected in the law of Luxembourg. In 2002, Luxembourg set up the Luxembourg Committee on the Rights of the Child, whose mission is to protect the interests of the child and to defend the rights enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The committee therefore advocates and defends children’s rights, whether we mean denial of their rights, ill-treatment or any other form of injustice. Each year, the committee draws up a full report that it submits to the Parliament so there is a constant monitoring process and an annual debate on the children’s rights situation in Luxembourg. We must ensure that children are spared all forms of violence and the State should organise such protection and ensure that an effective framework is in place that provides equal treatment.
Luxembourg supports and contributes to the funding of the ONE in FIVE campaign and I will, of course, vote in favour of the resolution and recommendations in the two reports.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Dobbin.
Mr DOBBIN (United Kingdom) – I speak as a United Kingdom representative on the Council of Europe’s ONE in FIVE campaign. The serious issue of trafficking children for sexual exploitation is high on the global agenda. In the United Kingdom in recent months, a number of high-profile famous celebrities have been arrested and are under police investigation. In my constituency, in the local authority area of Rochdale, near Manchester, a number of men have been imprisoned for periods of one to 17 years for grooming young girls for sex. Similar cases are ongoing in other parts of the United Kingdom. The most recent case was in Oxford, where again a number of men were accused of grooming girls for sexual exploitation. They are now awaiting sentencing.
My colleague Michael Connarty, who is in the Chamber now, and I spoke at a conference in Oxford just last week about the ONE in FIVE campaign. As I see it, the agencies involved – the police, social services, health services and other agencies – failed to work together. The ongoing Rochdale investigation is revealing that failure to communicate and act in unison. The recommendations that are beginning to emerge demonstrate this damaging failure and call for a better approach to the sad and dangerous lack of co-operation and communication.
This trafficking for exploitation begins both within and without the United Kingdom and between towns both close and distant. We need much stricter regulation of the employment rules for individuals who either work with children or provide a service for children, including – and I am serious about this, because it happened in my patch – stricter licensing regulations for the services offered by taxi drivers, after-hours food premises and takeaways, because those were the focal points for some of what was going on.
The ONE in FIVE campaign and associated Lanzarote Convention have to be encouraged not only across Europe but globally. The countries that have yet to ratify the Lanzarote Convention need to ratify it urgently. The United Kingdom is one such country, although it has signed up to it. I approached the United Kingdom ambassador here just this week and his reply was quite encouraging. Local government and regional government also need to work together. All partners within local authorities, including police, social services departments, health authorities, charities and schools need to act more assertively to wipe out this creeping tragedy. We also must not forget the need to protect children from online sexual abuse as it is a growing problem. The ONE in FIVE campaign advises that type of protection. Co-operation, good communication and a clear strategy are the answer to this disease. Young people need advice and counselling to be able to cope with these pressures. I therefore support the resolutions from the ONE in FIVE campaign team.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. We will try to finish the speakers’ list and can do so if members keep to the three-minute time limit. The next speaker is Mr Kolman.
Mr KOLMAN (Croatia) – I thank the rapporteurs for these great reports. The One in Five campaign can now be considered a success. However, I believe that there are two key issues that need to be tackled – two directions in which the campaign could and should go. The first is preventing sexual violence and the exploitation of children. The other is to prevent the secondary victimisation not only of children but of their families and friends once a crime has been committed. I shall focus on the second aspect in this short speech.
Across Europe and in many other parts of the world we are witnessing the reporting of an increasing number of cases. This is the result not only of rising awareness but of the growing strength of support mechanisms. Precisely because a growing number of cases is being reported it is imperative to ensure that all those involved in the process are up to the task once the crime is reported. Police officers and social workers, doctors and medical staff, prosecutors, lawyers, judges and court clerks, teachers and all the others who are involved need to know what to do and how to do it. They all need to ensure that the ordeal that the child has gone through is a thing of the past and that they do not prolong the suffering by doing the wrong thing or doing things wrongly.
I therefore believe that we need a thorough checklist that clearly explains all the appropriate actions and procedures. This checklist has to be one of the foundations not only of the legal framework concerning cases of sexual abuse of children but of the education and training of those who are involved in such cases. It also needs to be the foundation of the institutional infrastructure and the daily organisation of work for all involved. It is crucial that children who have been victims of a crime are protected from any situation whereby the investigation and prosecution of the perpetrator is a source of further distress, feelings of shame or guilt or is in any way an unsettling or unpleasant experience for the victim. Unfortunately, this situation happens much too often.
In this respect, I draw the Assembly’s attention to the concept of the Barnahus – the children’s house. It is a friendly environment which is not co-located with police stations or hospitals. It also ensures that all the investigative work, such as interviews and examinations, is performed with as few people present in the room as possible. Moreover, it does not require the conduct of repetitive interviews with different people during different stages of the case. The concept was introduced in Iceland and is now spreading slowly across Europe. I am certain that setting up similar mechanisms is a step that all countries should take to prevent the secondary victimisation of children who have already been the victims of crime. It is my deepest belief that putting an accent on this aspect of the issue could make ONE in FIVE an even more successful campaign than it has already been.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Connarty.
Mr CONNARTY (United Kingdom) – I commend the rapporteurs, who have done wonderful work in delivering these reports today. I particularly commend the work of the ONE in FIVE group. I had the privilege of being one of its members for a year.
The report talks about ending the ONE in FIVE campaign in 2014 but I hope that will not happen. There is no question but that campaigns such as ONE in FIVE must go on and on until we drive out this pestilence – the problem will not suddenly end because we have worked until 2014. I hope that the necessary resources will be committed to keeping the campaign running.
Children are seen as a commodity to those who sexually abuse them, just as other people are seen as a commodity in the human trafficking trade. I act on behalf of the all-party group on human trafficking in the United Kingdom. The relationship of power between the abuser, who is usually an adult, and the child is unequal. It is a matter of protecting the structures of our society from those who abuse and who might be in a position of power – as we have recently seen in many reports from the United Kingdom. Famous personalities are sometimes involved. Some of these people may be rich but not all are. For 30 or 40 years, Jimmy Savile abused young people. Pop stars from the United Kingdom have done the same both through sex tourism and in the community. Cardinal O’Brien, the most senior Catholic prelate in Scotland, was recently revealed to be a predator on young men. He himself was a homosexual but he raved against homosexuality in the last months before he was revealed to have been abusing his position of power. There have been revelations that Scottish Catholic seminary principals in Lanarkshire, where I come from, have been involved in the abuse of males and females. But the problem goes further and sometimes involves the family, relatives or family friends – social predators who groom people in the community. It has been revealed just recently that people in my community, in my own village, have been doing it for years. Men in Grangemouth in my constituency have abused months-old female children in copycat crimes, which they then put on the Internet.
The key defence at the governmental and society level is to ratify and implement the Lanzarote Convention, which we have not yet done in the United Kingdom. We need massive awareness-raising campaigns about the convention. With the Body Shop we obtained 860 000 signatures about this matter which we presented to the government but it still did not ratify the convention. We need internationally binding laws, open data exchange and worldwide police enforcement and co-operation. We also need to put the child at the centre of the law. We need first to ensure children’s rights and establish the family’s and society’s duties to the child and not the family’s and society’s rights over the child. The child comes first and everyone else comes after.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Xuclŕ.
Mr XUCLŔ (Spain)* – I congratulate the rapporteurs, Mr Ghiletchi and Ms Bonet Perot, on their excellent reports. We supported the ONE in FIVE campaign two years ago and it has obviously been very successful. If anyone questions the effectiveness of the Council of Europe then this campaign should provide a textbook example of our relevance and the soundness of our recommendations and proposals. One thinks of the Czech Republic’s decision to sign up to the Lanzarote Convention and to join the other member States which have already signed and ratified.
This afternoon we have discussed whether more cases are occurring or whether more cases are simply being identified. If there are more cases then we are indeed a sick society. However, let us not forget that the new technologies and wider dissemination of child pornography may have inflated the number of cases coming to light. Various countries have had debates on prostitution and some have drawn a distinction between prostitution and forced prostitution. Other countries do not recognise that distinction. In any event, it is clear that minors are being forced into situations by individuals or organised crime gangs. There cannot be any expiry time on crimes of this nature. As Mr Díaz Tejera said, this crime is a blow to the face of humanity, so such acts should clearly not be promoted. When discussing human rights, we talk of the right to privacy, but in this situation police should be particularly active in combating those who distribute child pornography online.
The report is very good and will encourage people to step up their fight against the scourge.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. That concludes the list of speakers. I call Ms Bonet Perot to reply. You have five minutes.
Ms BONET PEROT (Andorra)* – Many speakers from different countries have mentioned activities in their country, which means that the campaign has been a success. They have conveyed the campaign’s importance to their countries, which have begun to implement it. When presenting the report, I said that sharing experiences will help us to improve our efforts to combat the sexual abuse of children.
As Mr Mendes Bota said, criminals come from all kinds of social groups. There is no country or group that is free of such offenders. Everywhere suffers from this offence. It particularly occurs during sporting activities, when violence against children can come from their coaches in locker rooms. Children see coaches as people they can trust, so it can be difficult to denounce violators, in particular those from that circle of trust, which can include family members or neighbours, and to stop such practices.
While social networks have many benefits, they clearly pose a problem. They are being used to catch young people’s attention and to bring them into a world of sexual violence, trafficking and child pornography. Some countries are beginning to act decisively in doing away with child pornography images from the Internet, but, as the report states, we must combine our efforts to try to ensure that what is successful in one country is successful in others. Otherwise, some countries could become havens for criminals.
As Mr Díaz Tejera said, children are the most vulnerable, but they also cannot defend themselves and do not understand what is happening. Furthermore, what we do with them will determine our future, so we have an obligation to protect them in every way possible.
Finland has achieved considerable progress and has made it possible for the police to take action against soliciting via the Internet. That is a good example for other countries of how to combat the scourge. I am from Andorra, where unfortunately we have recent examples of offences against children on the Internet. No one is safe from such crimes.
In conclusion, the ratification of the Lanzarote Convention imposes certain obligations, and the manual for parliamentarians, available in several languages, suggests activities for countries that have already ratified the convention, such as the establishment of a parliamentary committee devoted to the protection of children and adopting national legislation. Most important, however, is international co-operation, which has been mentioned throughout the debate and by all speakers. The manual suggests measures to protect victims but also for identifying and dealing with the culprits. It also suggests the creation of an ombudsman for the protection of children, the establishment of telephone hotlines, so that children can raise the alarm about possible culprits, measures for school curricula and the use of the media to convey information as broadly as possible.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Mr Ghiletchi to reply. You also have five minutes.
Mr GHILETCHI (Republic of Moldova) – Dear colleagues, I thank you for your passionate and supportive speeches, and I appreciate all the remarks made. I also want to thank Mr Belyakov for his critical remarks. I do not know whether he is still here, but I would like to reply to him in Russian.
(The speaker continued in Russian.)
What is the point of speaking when the statistics are frightening? The Bible states that in the beginning was the word. If Mr Belyakov had not spoken out, we would have never known his position. We have to speak, but we cannot stop here; we must go further, and I am happy about all the proposals suggested today.
(The speaker continued in English.)
I also thank the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development and its chair for their unanimous support and also the secretariat and Peter Omtzigt, who initiated the report. Several key phrases have been said in the Chamber, and I would like to emphasise some of them.
As Ms Borzova said, this problem is not just European. Indeed, the report emphasises that the problem is global, so we need international co-operation. We need to exchange lists of sex offenders.
The ratification of the Lanzarote Convention was another theme, and I am glad to see that more and more member states are ratifying it, with the latest example being the Russian Federation.
The ONE in FIVE campaign is raising awareness. I do not know whether we can continue it beyond 2014, but it has been a great campaign so far and I want to continue it and to raise awareness further in member States. An appeal was made to follow up some cases and I agree. We need to go home with the mission in mind that we must continue our work in our national parliaments. The complete title of the ONE in FIVE campaign is “Parliaments united in combating sexual violence against children”. We must stay united. So let us stay united in combating sexual violence against children and in offering them a bright and happy future.
I thank you again for your support. Let us continue this very necessary work in our own countries and national parliaments.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. Does the chairperson of the committee, Ms Maury Pasquier, wish to speak? You have two minutes.
Ms MAURY PASQUIER (Switzerland)* – I would like to echo the thanks expressed by my colleagues to our two rapporteurs for their commitment to defending the rights of all children – those in Europe and those who live in countries that are tourist destinations for our nationals. It is clearly necessary to stand up for the right of children to have their sexual and physical integrity and the right to grow up in a protective environment. Far too many children do not have access to such rights, and the ONE in FIVE campaign is a salutary reminder of that.
We have been considering today a report on sexual tourism, but unfortunately sexual abuse all too often arises within the family and is committed by those known to the child. We really cannot respect the rights of sex offenders themselves. We must consider extraterritorial, trans-frontier co-operation and promote sustainable and ethical tourism and access to information and education for all children. Let us not forget the need not only to ratify the Lanzarote Convention but to see it implemented in practical terms on the ground.
I again thank the rapporteurs, and all the members of the parliamentary reference framework, who are doing an outstanding job in the network and in their countries. For once, it is effective to talk about this issue. This is not just hot air: we are talking about steps that need to be taken to break this taboo. Let us get on with it.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you.
The report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, “Fighting ‘child sex tourism’”, Document 13152, proposes a draft resolution to which no amendments have been tabled.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 13152.
The vote is open.
The draft resolution in Document 13152 is adopted unanimously, with 92 votes.
The report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, “Parliaments united in combating sexual violence against children: mid-term review of the ONE in FIVE Campaign”, Document 13151, proposes a draft recommendation to which no amendments have been tabled.
We will now proceed to vote on the draft recommendation contained in Document 13151. A two-thirds majority is required.
The vote is open.
The draft recommendation in Document 13151 is adopted unanimously with 95 votes.
3. Ending discrimination against Roma children
THE PRESIDENT – The next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report entitled “Ending discrimination against Roma children”, Document 13158, presented by Ms Memecan on behalf of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination.
We will aim to finish this item by 8 p.m. I will therefore interrupt the list of speakers at about 7.50 p.m. for replies and voting. I remind members that they have three minutes in which to speak.
I call Ms Memecan. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.
Ms MEMECAN (Turkey) – We are considering a report on another disadvantaged group of children.
I want to thank UNICEF for its valuable contributions to the report, and to thank and congratulate the secretariat of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination, starting with Sonia Sirtori, the head of the secretariat, and Marine Trévisan, who was involved in producing the report. I thank the whole secretariat for their commitment to the committee’s work and their professionalism and pleasant personalities. I also want to acknowledge the members of the committee who unanimously approved the report and demonstrated their commitment to combating discrimination against Roma children and the Roma community at large, and their support for the empowerment of Roma people.
The widespread discrimination against Roma in Europe affects members of this community even at a very young age. Some 50% of the Roma population in Europe is under the age of 18 – some five million to six million people. We can continue ignoring these young people and leave them to face their fate – or we can do things to change it, and turn them into confident, active citizens of our societies. If we invest in these children, they can become confident individuals and able professionals, contributing to economic growth and demonstrating the values of a diverse society. This is possible if we really want to do it.
Combating discrimination needs to be addressed from two perspectives: the perpetrator and the victim. We need to work on breaking the prejudices of the perpetrators. They need to question what it is they have against the Roma. Is it a fear, just a dislike, or is it even known or defined at all? We need to find ways to eliminate such fears, dislikes and prejudices. The discriminators should learn to change their attitudes. Consequently, we need to develop mechanisms that will empower those who suffer discrimination. Removal of the social, educational and economic barriers that weaken them in larger society is the key to restoring their dignity and building their self-esteem. We politicians have a very important role in this field.
Forms of discrimination that Roma children suffer include lack of adequate pre-natal and infant health care, statelessness, child poverty, inadequate housing conditions, unequal access to education, and an increased risk of being subjected to bullying and violence. The first step should be facilitating access to public services for Roma communities. Most Roma never leave their communities, and Roma women in particular fear the outside world, which seems distant and dangerous. This seriously hinders their access to health and educational services, which results in many Roma women lacking information about childbirth, pre-natal care and child rearing. Mobile health care units can serve as awareness-raising platforms while delivering health care to the community. Similar outreach efforts can be employed in education. The focus of such outreach efforts should be the mothers, who are instrumental in raising children.
It has been demonstrated that pre-school offers vital preparation for Roma children; they learn the language of instruction if it is not what they speak at home and are introduced to the rhythms and routines of school. Governments should work to provide at least two years of inclusive mandatory and affordable pre-school education for Roma children. In those schools and in the higher grades, we have to create a learning environment where all children feel that they are being treated on an equal basis, are encouraged to participate and feel physically and emotionally secure.
Roma children’s confidence should be bolstered by their being actively included in classwork and extra-curricular activities. Sometimes that may require providing them with school materials and other needs if their families do not have the means. Children should be rewarded for positive behaviour and successes. We should urge them to improve their talent and follow their passions and we should provide resources to build on them.
One very important way to achieve a positive school experience is to prepare our teachers to manage a diverse classroom with children from different cultural and socio-economic backgrounds. It is most harsh for Roma students if teachers do not want them in classrooms, try to segregate them physically from the rest of the class or do not include them in class activities and not even in class photos. Those examples come from real-life stories. Teachers must learn to deal with their own biases and prejudices during their training and make sure that they do not carry any of them into the classroom.
The curriculum should embrace inclusion, be free of stereotypes and encourage creativity. All children should start learning about equality, respect and teamwork in their early years at school so that they build appreciation for each other and grow up free of prejudices. The inclusion of Roma culture and history in classwork would be beneficial in promoting that mutual understanding. Roma children are likely to come from rather disadvantaged backgrounds. Governments must ensure positive discrimination measures such as providing meals, school materials, transport and other provision so that the children feel equal with their classmates and participate in all the activities.
The private sector should be involved as well as governments. It should be encouraged to offer scholarships and support to Roma children. Parents are an important part of the equation. Governments, schools and NGOs should work together to raise awareness in Roma neighbourhoods of the importance of the education and opportunities available for children. Roma parents should be encouraged to become part of the activities in their children’s schools – they could act as chaperones or become members of parents’ associations. Some successful programmes in Europe have attracted parents to schools by offering them vocational training or literacy classes. The parents were thereby engaged with the schools and were given skills to become more active in their societies.
Roma girls face several barriers in their access to and enjoyment of fundamental rights. They are victims of multiple discrimination. Families should be made aware of the importance of girls’ education and provided with incentives to send their girls to schools. It is crucial that all countries end the practice of segregating Roma children in schools. A tradition of high-stakes testing has become established in central and south-eastern European countries to assess whether children can follow a mainstream primary school curriculum. The result has sometimes been the segregation of Roma children in special classes and schools, despite the clear stance from the European Court of Human Rights against such practices. Such measures should be considered human rights violations and named as such by our Assembly.
Positive Roma role models such as businessmen, artists and successful students should engage with the Roma community and act as a source of inspiration. Internship programmes for Roma in government offices and the private sector during their summers can facilitate their entry into the job market and inclusion into the business world. Empowering Roma children and their families implies not only working for the Roma, but with the Roma. Many national and international NGOs work effectively on Roma issues. It is essential that national Governments co-operate with them to devise relevant policies.
Finally, I emphasise that addressing the root cause of discrimination requires politicians and public opinion leaders to act more responsibly. We should be examples to society in how we address the Roma issue and play a role in reversing stereotyping and discriminatory attitudes towards the Roma. I am pleased at the focus of this afternoon’s session on the rights of children and young people in Europe, especially disadvantaged children. Children are our future and we have a responsibility to ensure that they grow up in prosperous, free and equal societies. I take this opportunity to celebrate children’s day for Roma children and all children. I wish them all a fun and happy life.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Memecan. You have three minutes and 30 seconds left.
I call first Mr Aligrudić, who speaks on behalf of the European Democrat Group.
Mr ALIGRUDIĆ (Serbia) – It is my honour and pleasure to congratulate the rapporteur on behalf of the EDG for the excellent and comprehensive report on ending discrimination against Roma children. I hope that it will be adopted unanimously.
The situation of the Roma population in Europe is a complex issue. Roma are the largest, and one of the most disadvantaged ethnic minorities in Europe, comprising 8 to 10 million people. There are many stereotypes about them—“all Roma are criminals and beggars, all Roma are nomads” and so on. The truth is that Roma live in many different environments, speak different languages and different Roma dialects and have adopted many of the habits of the majority population in the countries where they live. They are engaged in numerous occupations and are members of different religions, and their financial and educational situations vary according to the individual, their group and the general situation of the country they live in. Today only 20% of European Roma are still nomadic. In previous centuries, their nomadism was almost never a matter of free choice – it was one of persecution.
Persecution and segregation that lasted for centuries has made a vicious circle that cannot be broken easily. A minority of the Roma population stand within this vicious circle on the margin of society and are being used by different criminal groups for their purposes. Therefore, unfortunately, the majority of the Roma population are victims of generalisation and criminalisation. We need to help them all to get out and to be included in society.
The report clearly states that about 50% of the Roma population in Europe, which corresponds to about 5 to 6 million people, are under 18 years of age. It advocates concrete measures to end discrimination against Roma children and help them get out of the vicious circle.
The report is excellent because of its beautiful words and phrases, but only if it is fully respected among States will it certainly lead to significant progress. We must recall the “Decade of Roma Inclusion" project and the “Dosta!" Council of Europe project and note with regret that those good ideas have not yet come to life. There will be no ending of segregation and discrimination and no inclusion of this vulnerable group of people if there are not sufficient State funds.
My colleagues and I have tabled an amendment to call on member States to provide sufficient State budgetary financing to ensure that the activities mentioned in paragraphs 7.1 to 7.5 are effective and efficient. No money means no inclusion and no combating segregation and discrimination. The rapporteur has agreed with the amendment, the committee has adopted it unanimously and it has become part of the text. I thank the rapporteur and all our colleagues for that.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Groth, on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.
Ms GROTH (Germany)* – I, too, express my thanks for the report, which contains a great number of very good recommendations. Were they all to be implemented, that would be virtually revolutionary after such a long period of structural discrimination against Roma. One of the greatest challenges in implementing these excellent proposals is not only the ability to fund the necessary measures but political resolve and determination.
Perhaps I can make one or two critical comments. Paragraph 7.1.3 mentions the “stimulating” environment that is needed to promote the development of Roma children, but unfortunately that does not exist. In 2011 I visited an area of Belgrade where Roma were living in degrading and inhuman conditions. The situation is a catastrophe for Roma children. Any prospect of attending a school would represent progress indeed. Similar situations are to be found throughout Europe, not only in Serbia. Only a few months ago, a prominent Fidesz politician compared Roma to animals. Of course, we were up in arms and shocked, and it should have sent shockwaves throughout Europe. The Council of Europe should not accept such utterances, and we should be strong in our condemnation of them.
Be that as it may, I hope that the report and its recommendations will lead to the implementation of very many proposals and that it will open up prospects for genuine participation in our society by Roma children.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Kyriakides from Cyprus, representing the Group of the European People’s Party.
Ms KYRIAKIDES (Cyprus) – Discrimination against Roma children in many of our countries denies them fundamental rights and affects their life chances for ever. The sad situation of the Roma, particularly their children, reflects the deficiencies in the social systems applicable to all our children. A society that fails to protect its more marginalised children denies them their chance to reach their potential and undermines their chances to develop. Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, governments are obliged to protect all children and are accountable for their failure to do so. Numerous rulings by the European Court of Human Rights, as well as detailed reports by this Organisation’s Commissioner for Human Rights, are clear: we must overcome the multiple disadvantages faced by Roma children.
Discrimination marks Roma children’s entire lives, from inadequate infant care and poverty to unequal access to health care and housing. The many disparities that prevent these children from integrating and actively participating in mainstream life activities leave them alienated and vulnerable to all forms of exploitation, poverty, unemployment and abuse. They are victims of multiple and recurrent discrimination. It is clear that we need to do a great deal. We in this Assembly are in danger of continually recognising the fact of discrimination against Roma children but doing very little to change the realities. The report contains positive measures, and we need to include budgets and time frames.
We should start to recognise and fight the deeply rooted racism that exists vis-ŕ-vis Roma people in Europe. In the educational system, bullying and forms of segregation accentuate the phenomenon of racial intolerance and isolation. This is a vicious circle that we need to break if we are to build a new image of Roma in Europe whereby they are no longer portrayed as victims and different but as equal Europeans. Any initiative that does not take into consideration the underlying discrimination is doomed to fail.
We agree with the rapporteur, Ms Memecan, whom we congratulate on this excellent report, that our ambition must be twofold. On the one hand, European societies should become more sensitised and tolerant of the need to conduct targeted policies for Roma children, but on the other hand we need to ensure that Roma children are empowered from the outset, that they believe in themselves and have self-confidence in order to become more creative, and do not just benefit from funds but actively participate in decisions. We need to see them as equal Europeans.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Schennach, on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Mr SCHENNACH (Austria)* – “Bury me standing up because I spent my whole life on my knees.” That is a Roma saying, and it is very telling as a comment on one of the biggest humanitarian disasters that faces us in the Council of Europe. Discrimination, persecution, exclusion and witch-hunts are going on today in member States of the Council of Europe, as are forced assimilation and being dealt with on a totally arbitrary basis. That is what the 12 million to 15 million Roma are facing. They have been called dirty, and thieves and beggars. Very many of these people – 61% in central Europe – do not have access to a toilet, and many have no running water.
Women are often married far too young, and the children are in the direst circumstances of all. If Roma children got any kind of education, they were herded into special schools for children with mental and learning problems. We see this intolerance in the past and in the present. This is hardly a climate designed to promote education. In Serbia, Albania, Bulgaria and Romania 20% to 40% of Roma children do not have any schooling. 80% in Bosnia! The children are illiterate because the grandparents and their parents were also illiterate. We need to do something to help the young. There is a hostile environment among educationists as well. We have three more years of the decade up until 2015 to do something about Roma children.
There is human trafficking and exploitation of people. Roma settlements have been trashed by bulldozers. There have been politically organised, violent witch-hunts of Roma. What is happening is an utter disgrace, particularly to the children. We must care for those children and cherish them in future. I very much hope that we will all be shaken up to do something in the next three years.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Beck, on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Ms BECK (Germany)* – Mr Schennach has portrayed very clearly how dramatic is the situation of Roma throughout Europe. I say that speaking as a German. This persecution, which has lasted hundreds of years, culminated in the death machine of the Nazi regime.
A number of good proposals have been made – practical proposals that need to be acted on, and could be very readily were there the political determination to do so. We would all agree that no one is going to vote against the report, yet so very little seems to be happening out there. As Mr Schennach just said, the European Union launched a Roma decade. If we examine the collapse in the successor States to the former Yugoslavia, we have to say that the situation of Roma has deteriorated. They are more excluded from the labour market than before and discrimination in this whirlpool of ethnic conflict has continued – so very little has been achieved. The compulsory visa requirement for citizens of Macedonia, Serbia and other countries in the western Balkans was lifted and there has been a migration of Roma to countries in western Europe. At the European Union level, the question was whether to repeal that decision, given the threat of a massive exodus, which shows the distance between the kind of proposals being put forward and what is happening in realpolitik.
It is all well and good making practical proposals and suggestions, but we know how to go about things. We know that the key to the whole thing lies in education and that mothers play a vital role and need to be made more self-aware. They have to understand the importance of sending their daughters to school and to push through that message within the family. We know that care facilities and services have to be put in place, and that the Roma have to be involved as bridge builders and mediators as they find their way forward into a modern society while retaining their own cultural diversity. The problem lies not so much at the level of proposals, but with the absence of any political will. We have to take up that issue and take these commitments back to our national parliaments. Only if that happens will this report make any sense.
Mr NIKOLOSKI (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”) – First, I congratulate the rapporteur, Ms Memecan, on her excellent report, and I fully agree with her point that Roma children should be given an equal start in life, so that they can be fully included in society.
I wish to give a short review of the measures taken in my country to address the challenges faced by the Roma community, as these can be used as a model of good practice by other countries in Europe. The education problem is one of the biggest facing the Roma population, as a higher proportion of Roma children leave school early. To prevent that, Macedonia’s Ministry of Labour and Social Policy has for the past six years been implementing the “Inclusion of Roma children in pre-school” project, in collaboration with the Roma Education Fund and 18 units of local government. The main objective is to improve and support the integration of Roma children by increasing their number in pre-school institutes one year before they enter primary school. During 2012-13, 459 Roma children were included in the project.
A high percentage of high school children drop out, so the scholarship, mentoring and tutoring of high school Roma children project has been in place since November 2009 to deal with that. It is being carried out within the framework of the office for development of the education of the representatives of the communities, which is in the Ministry of Education and Science, and which includes 84 schools in 25 municipalities throughout the country.
With the aim of making it easier to register births, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy has since October 2011 begun to identify and register the people whose births have not been registered. This work has been done in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior, the office for records keeping, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the Roma non-governmental organisation. Those involved worked directly in the field, going door to door to identify these people.
Personal and public documents are very important, and we have improved our system in that regard. As well as the Macedonian language, five others are spoken by the communities: Albanian, Bosnian, Turkish, Serbian, and the Vlach language. People in those communities are allowed to declare their identity in their passport and have their name written in their language. As a result, 4 158 travel documents and 1 897 identity cards have been issued in the Roma language, and that represents a big improvement. The issue of empowering the Roma population and getting them to enter the system is high on our political agenda. Several members of our parliament and a Minister are of Roma origin.
Ms BOURZAI (France)* – First, I commend Ms Memecan’s excellent report, as she presents in a detailed way all the various aspects of discrimination against Roma children and that allows us to understand the scope of the problem. In the debate on the situation of Roma, the issue of children is not a minor one because, as the rapporteur said, half the Roma population in Europe is younger than 18. When reading the report, I was struck by how cruel practices from an earlier time – possibly a medieval one – have become common in Council of Europe member States, yet we still claim to adhere to the values defended by our organisation. How can we, at the beginning of the 21st century, tolerate, not to say organise, segregation within schools? Such a practice contributes to entrenching a culture of exclusion and rejecting people who are different, and it is being done for incomprehensible reasons. I sincerely thought that they had been utterly discredited by the lessons of history, yet schools in certain countries have become a laboratory for racism and xenophobia. They are places where you learn to mistrust Roma people and you hide, isolate and quarantine them. Nothing can justify such practices, which harm children first and foremost. They are blamed for being born.
The rapporteur advocates the establishment of a true right of inclusion for Roma people, guaranteed by establishing a remedy procedure that allows them to take cases to court where there has been a failure by the State to live up to its responsibility. I fully support that, and I would like a legal text to be set out and passed quickly in all Council of Europe member States, as it is up to us to apply the same rights to everyone. I would also like to see the Council of Europe’s ROMED programme, which encourages co-operation between Roma and local institutions, to have sufficient funding to be successfully completed.
Dialogue is one of the keys to understanding how this situation could have deteriorated to this extent. We therefore also highlight the European Alliance of Cities and Regions for Roma Inclusion, which was launched under the framework of the Council of Europe on 20 March. Integration of Roma is often a major challenge for local authorities, as they manage most of the public facilities to which Roma families need access. The exchange of good practice among European cities should therefore make it possible to promote the cause of the inclusion of this group better. Only 26 of the 47 member States have participated in the establishment of the alliance, and I hope that greater attention will be directed to its work and that it will have sufficient funding to implement its further information exchange project called ROMACT, for which it has laid the groundwork.
Mr VORUZ (Switzerland)* – Well done! An excellent report has been presented to us by Ms Memecan, who has enlightened us about the reality that too many countries are only trying to cover up and fail to recognise. We are talking about groups in various countries who live there legitimately. We see Roma serve as scapegoats when things are difficult, whether in economic and social terms or in political terms. The flaring up of xenophobia and racial discrimination in Europe threatens the Roma community and, in particular, its children and young people.
Apart from being poor, Travellers sometimes find it difficult to comply with the requirements of the host countries. There are Roma who are begging in the streets, surrounded by their children. Often they have been dispatched by crime groups, which is unacceptable. In Switzerland, we have groups that prevent neo-fascist groups from doing what they intend, which is to attack Roma.
We must consider the cultures involved. Surely people are responsible for themselves and their children, whatever group they belong to. I believe that it is right to consider what Turkey is doing in opening itself up to Roma. That merits attention. This morning, in the debate on the post-monitoring dialogue with Turkey, our colleague Josette Durrieu reminded us that the country respects the principles of human rights when it comes to the protection of Roma children and combats discrimination against those children.
There are 42 separate points in the draft resolution, but only one amendment has been tabled. It really is an outstanding success, and we accept the report and the amendment. Today is certainly Turkey day.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Mr Kolman.
Mr KOLMAN (Croatia) – The report reflects what I personally think is the most important issue when discussing the fight against discrimination towards Roma children – education. It is my deepest belief that education is our strongest tool in our quest to provide equal opportunities to Roma children in our societies, and to all others for that matter. We are dealing with a multi-layered problem for which there are no straightforward or simple solutions. It has to be tackled in a multidisciplinary manner, with full awareness that change must be achieved on all sides, supported by the political will finally to act.
Within the Roma communities themselves the importance of education and the change it brings need to be embraced. Roma families need to have the desire to send their children to school and the willingness to assist them in this long and often difficult process that we all go through. It is especially important that girls are not discriminated against in their opportunity to receive an education.
The economic aspect needs to be taken into account as well. Even if attending a school does not require paying tuition, getting there can be very expensive. This is especially the case in rural areas where pupils need to rely on public transport and may have to travel a long way to get to school. Unfortunately, in the case of Roma children, even basic requirements such as clothes, shoes and healthy food are more often than not out of reach, so a place where a child can study and write homework is in most cases only a distant dream.
The change needs to be achieved in other places as well. Schools and pre-schools need to adapt their curricula and activities. Teachers and non-Roma children along with their parents need to be educated as well. They need to get to know and understand their Roma classmates. The worst thing that can happen is that when they arrive at school Roma children are subjected to ill-treatment, which can only result in a complete loss of interest and respect for formal education.
What is needed in my opinion is that all of us, members of the Council of Europe, set as one of our priorities the inclusion of Roma children in formal educational institutions in our countries. This report deals with the issue very successfully, but, as Ms Beck put it, it is now really time to start doing something.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Christoffersen.
Ms CHRISTOFFERSEN (Norway) – Discrimination against Roma people has been on our agenda for decades. The word “scandalous” has been used to characterise the situation in many European countries. Last year the European Union presented a survey from 11 member countries, with shocking results. Some 12 million Roma are daily victims of racism, discrimination and social exclusion; one in three are unemployed; 20% are not covered by health insurance; and 90% live below the poverty line in extremely poor conditions. We all agree that such discrimination is incompatible with our core values, but still we do not seem able to translate ambition into action. Despite action plans and public spending, the situation of the Roma is not improving. On the contrary, it is getting worse.
In Norway, there are only about 700 Roma defined as a national minority, and 90% of them speak the same language, but we have not been able to find the right measures. A new commission appointed by the government will present new recommendations by June this year – so for us, this report is timely.
We have to focus more on children, and in doing so, we have to empower their mothers. This is common knowledge when one is trying to make policy for immigrants, and I am convinced that it is true for the Roma as well. Informing Roma women of pregnancy and health care services, the importance of their children’s education, early childhood services and kindergartens is important, as is parental literacy. Building parents’ confidence in schools through Roma mediators is essential. School drop-outs must be re-engaged. We should have a special focus on young girls, as they tend to follow in their mothers’ footsteps. Girls are often forced out of school at a very early age.
Based on Norwegian experience, public sector outreach seems to be a key measure in many fields, including education. Our first Roma mediator is optimistic. But for the time being, very few Roma pupils manage to graduate from primary school. The average absence represents one third of the year. In addition, we recently witnessed internal fighting and murder attempts between the Roma themselves, and that led to more children being held back from school in fear of reprisals. Roma identity should be respected, but obviously we need to break some negative patterns to give these children the opportunities they do indeed deserve.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. The next speaker is Ms Allain.
Ms ALLAIN (France)* – I thank the rapporteur for her excellent and instructive report. At the beginning of April, I attended a meeting in my own city of Bergerac on the subject of border frontiers. A documentary film called “Tiers-Paysage” was shown by the office of the High Commissioner for Refugees, which described another world – the world experienced by several generations of Roma who live in a slum. It showed that they yearned for decent living conditions. They are outcasts in the slums, living in unsanitary squats with no electricity or running water. These are places where they end up by default, and this makeshift existence has serious consequences for their children’s health, schooling and take-up of family services.
The rapporteur talks about experiments that have been tried to make sure that Roma have access to decent housing. In the decade following 2000, we had the “inclusive villages” project in the Seine et Marne area of France. In those 10 years, more than 50 families were integrated and 150 children had schooling, but all too often such projects are one-off initiatives taken by local authorities with local associations responding to an urgent situation, rather than being the hallmark of an ambitious policy of integration for Roma. In the case of the inclusive villages, the difficulties of access and the strict rules about behaviour are likely to create an atmosphere conducive to discrimination. Why? Our prejudices are our prison bars.
Anina Ciuciu, a young Frenchwoman, graduated top of her year at the Sorbonne. She describes her life in the book, “I am a Gypsy and a Gypsy I remain”. She was able to go to school because she was assisted by tremendous people who helped her family and ignored prejudices. Anina’s story shows how key proper schooling is for the social inclusion of such children and their families.
Since October 2012, France has made efforts better to provide effective and genuine schooling for girls at both pre-school and secondary school levels. The provision is inclusive, which is crucial; in some countries, Roma children are not allowed to attend the same schools as their peers. It is too soon to see whether what is happening in France now will mean that Anina’s story is no longer the exception but becomes the norm. Too many Roma live in another world. They want to have their rightful place in our societies alongside us.
Mr DRĂGHICI (Romania) – I want to congratulate Ms Memecan on drawing up such a comprehensive report on the discrimination of Roma children. They face a double discrimination – as Roma and as children. We should all be more determined to take concrete steps to improve the living conditions of those vulnerable groups.
We are fully aware that meaningful progress is needed to tackle Roma issues properly, given that discrimination affects members of that community from a young age. Segregation in schools, poor housing conditions, violence against the Roma community and statelessness are obstacles that hinder a smooth integration of Roma children into our societies.
In response to the unsolved problems of Roma people living in my country – I myself am Roma – the authorities in Bucharest are striving to provide appropriately for the needs of those vulnerable people, especially by solving legal issues such as the ownership of houses and land and by improving existing housing conditions to make them appropriate for decent living.
In education, there are programmes designed to promote early childhood inclusion by preventing children aged five to eight from dropping out of school at an early stage. Roma kids failing to attend kindergartens are eligible to attend summer pre-school for Roma. In order to identify the disadvantaged children, the programme is based on door-to-door recruitment. Daily attendance is carefully monitored by local co-ordinators, and monthly food coupons are given to families whose children participate fully in those educational activities.
As the final part of our resolution says, it is up to us to act to reverse stereotypes and discriminatory attitudes towards the Roma.
Mr TATSOPOULOS (Greece)* – In all countries throughout history – my country is no exception – there has always been an inverse relationship between tolerance and poverty. Usually, there has been less tolerance in times of poverty, particularly towards the Roma.
With the Roma, there is a vicious cycle. The stereotypes and prejudices against the Roma feed into their social exclusion, which then feeds into stereotypes and prejudices. Such stereotypes are often purely clichés. Roma children suffer from a double tragedy: they experience exclusion both from other children and from adults. In some regions of Greece, there is a trend to try to exclude Roma children from Greek schools. They are isolated from other children and put into separate schools. There have also been cases of Roma children being abused and mistreated.
The State is seeking to integrate the Roma into society, but certain programmes no longer have funding because of the recession. There are programmes aimed at bringing Greek people into closer contact with Roma culture, but for all that to be successful, the message needs to fall on an attentive and welcoming audience. That requires different conditions from those we have in Greece. This is the fifth year of a terrible recession, and our attempts to improve the image of the Roma have often fallen on deaf ears.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I call Ms Al-Astal from Palestine, Partner for Democracy.
Ms AL-ASTAL (Palestine) – I thank Ms Memecan, rapporteur of this comprehensive and excellent report.
The report aims to end discrimination against Roma children and focuses on important issues, especially health and education. The statistics estimate that half the Roma population in Europe, which is about five million to six million people, is under 18-years-old – they are children. That figure highlights the necessity to break the vicious cycle of discrimination as soon as possible.
The Council of Europe’s fundamental values and standards are about human rights and child and family rights, so Council of Europe member States should promote respect for the Roma identity, culture and languages. Roma communities must be involved in the development and implementation of policies. They should be integrated into the societies of the countries where they exist.
Member States should end school segregation and remove socio-economic barriers to education and provide financial incentives to overcome the poverty that impedes access to schools. They should improve prenatal and infant health care and stop the early marriages of young women, which increase the probability of difficult pregnancies and a low birth weight for infants, and infant and mother mortality rates.
Successful initiatives have been undertaken by the Council of Europe and some countries, such as Turkey, Germany and Macedonia, which help to some extent to improve the situation of Roma children. Such proposals and efforts must to be continued by all Council of Europe member states and other countries where Roma communities exist, in order to improve living conditions, protect Roma children and their rights to education and health, offer them equal opportunities, and give them hope for the next generation of Roma children and their families.
Mr GAUDI NAGY (Hungary) – We are talking about the fight against discrimination, which is basically a good starting point. I come from a country – Hungary – where, officially, about 300 000 Roma people live, but the real number is at least double that figure. Hungarians and many of Europe’s other citizens clearly feel that the liberal dogmas about fighting discrimination will result in the solution and ensure that Roma people have normal living conditions. That is absolutely the wrong direction to take because it is not enough.
Both sides of the coin should be analysed. The rapporteur focused exclusively on the point of view of Roma people, but no relevant references emerged about the situation of people who live in regions where most criminal acts are committed by Roma people. People there cannot experience the normal co-existence of different cultures in their everyday lives. Let me give an example. In several regions of Hungary, farmers cannot harvest all their crops because some of the yield will be collected by Roma people. It is therefore important to talk about the responsibilities and liabilities of Roma people.
Many speakers have talked about social exclusion and victimisation, but who has talked about the other half of children who live in poor conditions? When we try to find a way to solve the problem, we should not forget about the positive examples – how to be a co-operative partner in society, how to take care of children and how to send them to school and how to teach them to respect others’ property and how to be useful members of society. Without adopting that point of view, no solution will be found.
THE PRESIDENT – Thank you. I now call the last speaker – Mr Chaloupka, who was not in his place earlier.
Mr CHALOUPKA (Czech Republic) – I was hesitant about speaking here today; I almost did not, but the Council of Europe allowed a brochure full of lies and false information to be distributed here yesterday – shame on those responsible!
Political correctness blocks any effective problem solving. It brings only a lot of useless talks, without any positive results. Thus if I offend anyone by my political incorrectness, I do not apologise. I would like to express my views on discrimination against the Roma in Europe. I understand and I am able to believe that in some European countries the Roma are discriminated against and persecuted. I am convinced that that is not right – it is wrong, and it is necessary to solve that problem – but I am tired of the Czech Republic being continually accused of racism and xenophobia.
In its recent report, the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights analysed the situation of Roma in 11 member States, including access to and success in education or employment. The Czech Republic has the highest proportion of Roma who have completed their education and the highest proportion of Roma in paid employment. The Czech Republic is investing a huge amount of money in improving the life conditions of Roma, although pensions for people who have worked their whole lives are reduced to the lowest survivable level. More and more money is invested in the programmes that support the Roma, but that does not work as we would like.
The important fact is that the Roma demand that society adjusts to fit them, and that is absolutely not acceptable.
In the Czech Republic, all the measures suggested in the resolution have been more or less applied for a long time, but many Roma parents are not interested in their children attending regular schools, not even if their children fulfil all the necessary requirements, because doing so would give them more responsibilities, and the fact that educated children will sometimes work for a living is financially less attractive than depending on the Czech Republic’s current generous social system.
The Czech Republic does not discriminate against the Roma. Many of them work, raise their children and are part of society. Those are the Roma we need to appreciate and support. In a discriminating and xenophobic society, there would be no Roma teachers, actors and businessmen, but we have successful Roma in the Czech Republic. We are not racists.
The Czech Republic is doing the maximum possible to improve the life conditions of the Roma. Yes, I am sure that it would be possible to do that more effectively, but if the results are not as we would wish, the blame is on the Roma themselves. It is very difficult to offer help to someone who refuses it.
If anyone feels that the Czech Republic does not give the Roma enough support to integrate into society, I would be happy to arrange the finance for them to move to your country, and I would then be happy to observe how you deal with this issue.
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 now call Ms Memecan to reply. You have three minutes and 30 seconds.
Ms MEMECAN (Turkey) – I thank all colleagues for expressing their serious concerns about the Roma communities in Europe. I acknowledge the Assembly’s ongoing efforts to keep the Roma issue alive and on our agenda and to address it in reports and debates in the Chamber. I also thank Mr Aligrudić and his colleagues for the amendment, without which the support would not be complete.
These awareness-raising efforts help our governments and parliamentarians to pay special attention to Roma people, while helping Roma people to become more self-confident and more aware of their rights and what they want from their nations. I work with the Roma community in Turkey, and I am proud of the Roma community’s efforts.
After such efforts were initiated in 2010, the Roma started to form their own associations, to develop their strategies to demand their rights and to try to empower their own societies by making efforts to co-operate with other human rights NGOs in Turkey, as well as with international ones. They are becoming powerful communities, and they are demanding that governments provide schooling for their children. That started as a grass-roots effort, which is much more sustainable for the Roma in Turkey.
I congratulate all the Turkish Roma people on all their efforts, and I thank everyone for their contributions at this late hour of a busy day in the Assembly.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you. Does the chairperson of the committee, Ms Acketoft, wish to speak? You have two minutes.
Ms ACKETOFT (Sweden) – Earlier this April, European media reported that the Louvre had to close down because of young pickpockets roaming the museum. Let me quote some comments from readers of some much-respected newspapers – and I shall ensure that I censor the language. Here is one: “Roma. What is that? A modern term to make them sound anthropologically exclusive. Multiculture is closing down the Louvre; what an irony. That gives us a hint of what is awaiting our country. We can expect between 250 000 and 300 000 Gypsies from Bulgaria and Romania according to calculations. These facts must be repeated; somebody has to tell the truth. Keep writing of the flood of faces that awaits us with this politically correct Government.” That was a Swedish newspaper; I am quoting my Swedish fellow men.
Every country in this Assembly, except Malta, has Roma minorities and communities and not one of us, including Sweden, can say that we have no discrimination against Roma people. The report allows practical steps to be taken to break centuries of alienation. Let us bring it to our parliaments, to our governments, to our communities and to our streets. Do not be surprised if it takes guts – it will – but we did not become politicians just to follow the stream. We are supposed to swim and sometimes we have to swim in the other direction to make the flood shift.
I am extremely proud to be the chair of this committee and to be able to present such an excellent report, written by Ms Memecan and the ever-reliable secretariat.
The PRESIDENT – I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development wishes to propose to the Assembly that the amendment to the draft resolution, which was unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly under Rule 33.11.
Is that so, Ms Acketoft?
Ms ACKETOFT (Sweden) – Yes.
The PRESIDENT – Does anyone object? That is not the case.
The following amendment has been adopted:
Amendment 1, tabled by Mr Aligrudić, Ms Miladinović, Ms Rakić, Mr Račan, Mr Kalmár, Ms Bulajić, Ms Bakoyannis, Mr Vareikis, Ms Djurović, Mr Kox, Mr Mogens Jensen, Mr Fischer, Mr O’Reilly and Mr Walter, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 7.5, to insert the following paragraph:
“provide sufficient state financing to ensure that the activities mentioned in paragraphs 7.1 to 7.5 are effective and efficient.”
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 13158, as amended.
The vote is open.
The draft resolution in Document 13158, as amended, is adopted, with 44 votes for, 5 against and 9 abstentions.
4. Next public business
The PRESIDENT – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting tomorrow morning at 10.00 a.m. with the agenda that was approved on Monday.
The sitting is closed.
(The sitting was closed at 8.05 p.m.)
1. Address by Mr Didier Burkhalter, Vice-President of the Federal Council, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland
Questions: Mr Kalmár (Hungary), Mr Schennach (Austria), Mr Clappison (United Kingdom), Mr Villumsen (Denmark), Mr Recordon (Switzerland), Mr Gaudi Nagy (Hungary), Ms Orobets (Ukraine), Mr Kayatürk (Turkey), Mr Reimann (Switzerland), Mr Xuclŕ (Spain), Mr R. Farina (Italy), Mr Beneyto (Spain)
2. Joint debate
Presentation of report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development by Mr Ghiletchi, Document 13152
Presentation of report of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development by Ms Bonet Perot, Document 13151
Speakers: Ms Gutu (Republic of Moldova), Mr Donaldson (United Kingdom), Ms Backman (Iceland), Mr Omtzigt (Netherlands), Mr G. Davies (United Kingdom), Mr Mendes Bota (Portugal), Ms Blondin (France), Ms Clune (Ireland), Mr Díaz Tejera (Spain), Ms Anttila (Finland), Ms Fataliyeva (Azerbaijan), Ms Virolainen (Finland), Ms Blanco (Spain), Mr Kayatürk (Turkey), Ms Goryacheva (Russian Federation), Mr Sidyakin (Russian Federation), Mr Rouquet (France), Ms Kyriakides (Cyprus), Mr Belyakov (Russian Federation), Mr Yatim (Morocco), Ms Zappone (Ireland), Mr R. Farina (Italy), Ms Kyriakidou (Cyprus), Ms Bulajić (Serbia), Ms Borzova (Russian Federation), Mr Boden (Luxembourg), Mr Dobbin (United Kingdom), Mr Kolman (Croatia), Mr Connarty (United Kingdom), Mr Xuclŕ (Spain).
Replies: Ms Bonet Perot (Andorra), Mr Ghiletchi (Republic of Moldova)
Draft resolution in Document 13152 adopted
Draft recommendation in Document 13151 adopted
3. Ending discrimination against Roma children
Presentation of the report of the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination by Ms Memecan, Document 13158
Speakers: Mr Aligrudić (Serbia), Ms Groth (Germany), Ms Kyriakides (Cyprus), Mr Schennach (Austria), Ms Beck (Germany), Mr Nikoloski (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”), Ms Bourzai (France), Mr Voruz (Switzerland), Mr Kolman (Croatia), Ms Christoffersen (Norway), Ms Allain (France), Mr Drăghici (Romania), Mr Tatsopoulos (Greece), Ms Al-Astal (Palestine), Mr Gaudi Nagy (Hungary), Mr Chaloupka (Czech Republic).
Replies: Ms Memecan (Turkey), Ms Acketoft (Sweden)
Amendment 1 adopted
Draft resolution in Document 13158, as amended, adopted
4. Next public business
Representatives or Substitutes who signed the Attendance Register in accordance with Rule 11.2 of the Rules of Procedure. The names of Substitutes who replaced absent Representatives are printed in small letters. The names of those who were absent or apologised for absence are followed by an asterisk.
Karin ANDERSEN/Ingjerd Schou
Lord Donald ANDERSON*
Danielle AUROI/Brigitte Allain
Gerard BARCIA DUEDRA
José Manuel BARREIRO*
José María BENEYTO
Ľuboš BLAHA/Darina Gabániová
Gerold BÜCHEL/Rainer Gopp
Patrizia BUGNANO/Giuliana Carlino
Natalia BURYKINA/Tamerlan Aguzarov
Vannino CHITI/Paolo Corsini
Tudor-Alexandru CHIUARIU/Corneliu Mugurel Cozmanciuc
Carlos COSTA NEVES
Joseph DEBONO GRECH*
Armand De DECKER/Ludo Sannen
Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA
Peter van DIJK/Marjolein Faber-Van De Klashorst
Alexander [The Earl of] DUNDEE/Cheryl Gillan
Baroness Diana ECCLES/Jeffrey Donaldson
Tülin ERKAL KARA
Joseph FENECH ADAMI
Cătălin Daniel FENECHIU
Vyacheslav FETISOV/Alexander Sidyakin
Daniela FILIPIOVÁ/Miroslav Krejča
Axel E. FISCHER*
Jana FISCHEROVÁ/Kateřina Konečná
Gvozden Srećko FLEGO*
Jean-Claude FRÉCON/Maryvonne Blondin
Erich Georg FRITZ
Martin FRONC/József Nagy
Sir Roger GALE*
Tamás GAUDI NAGY
Jarosław GÓRCZYŃSKI/ Zbigniew Girzyński
Alina Ştefania GORGHIU
Pelin GÜNDEŞ BAKIR
Alfred HEER/Maximilian Reimann
Martin HENRIKSEN/Mette Reissmann
Vladimir ILIĆ/Vesna Marjanović
Igor IVANOVSKI/Imer Aliu
Denis JACQUAT/Jacques Legendre
Michael Aastrup JENSEN*
Jadranka JOKSIMOVIĆ/Katarina Rakić
Birkir Jón JÓNSSON*
Čedomir JOVANOVIĆ/Svetislava Bulajić
Antti KAIKKONEN/Sirkka-Liisa Anttila
Božidar KALMETA/Ivan Račan
Bogdan KLICH/Iwona Guzowska
Serhiy KLYUEV/Volodymyr Pylypenko
Václav KUBATA/Dana Váhalová
Jean-Yves LE DÉAUT*
Christophe LÉONARD/Bernadette Bourzai
François LONCLE/Gérard Terrier
Jean-Louis LORRAIN/Bernard Fournier
George LOUKAIDES/Stella Kyriakides
Gennaro MALGIERI/Renato Farina
Meritxell MATEU PI
Liliane MAURY PASQUIER/Eric Voruz
Michael McNAMARA/Katherine Zappone
Sir Alan MEALE/Michael Connarty
Ermira MEHMETI DEVAJA*
José MENDES BOTA
Jean-Claude MIGNON/Marie-Jo Zimmermann
Djordje MILIĆEVIĆ/Stefana Miladinović
Federica MOGHERINI REBESANI*
Rubén MORENO PALANQUES
Joăo Bosco MOTA AMARAL
Lydia MUTSCH/Fernand Boden
Lev MYRYMSKYI/Serhiy Labaziuk
Baroness Emma NICHOLSON*
Sandra OSBORNE/Geraint Davies
Eva PARERA/Jordi Xuclŕ
Danny PIETERS/Sabine Vermeulen
Lisbeth Bech POULSEN/Nikolaj Villumsen
Marietta de POURBAIX-LUNDIN/Kerstin Lundgren
Cezar Florin PREDA
John PRESCOTT/Joe Benton
François ROCHEBLOINE/Frédéric Reiss
Maria de Belém ROSEIRA*
Rovshan RZAYEV/Sevinj Fataliyeva
Urs SCHWALLER/Luc Recordon
Björn von SYDOW/Jonas Gunnarsson
Melinda SZÉKYNÉ SZTRÉMI*
Lord John E. TOMLINSON
Ahmet Kutalmiş TÜRKEŞ*
Theodora TZAKRI/Konstantinos Triantafyllos
Tomáš ÚLEHLA/Pavel Lebeda
Miltiadis VARVITSIOTIS/Petros Tatsopoulos
Volodymyr VECHERKO/Larysa Melnychuk
Mark VERHEIJEN/Pieter Omtzigt
Tanja VRBAT/Melita Mulić
Klaas de VRIES*
Dame Angela WATKINSON
Karin S. WOLDSETH/Řyvind Vaksdal
Barbara ŽGAJNER TAVŠ*
Svetlana ZHUROVA/Anton Belyakov
Emanuelis ZINGERIS/Egidijus Vareikis
Vacant Seat, Cyprus*
Vacant Seat, Montenegro*
Representatives and Substitutes not authorised to vote
Liliane MAURY PASQUIER
Juan BUENO TORIO
Eloy CANTU SEGOVIA
Ernesto GÁNDARA CAMOU
Miguel ROMO MEDINA
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