AS (2014) CR 22
2014 ORDINARY SESSION
Tuesday 24 June 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 Rouquet, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.30 p.m.)
The PRESIDENT* – The sitting is open.
1. Election of Secretary General of the Council of Europe
The PRESIDENT* – I must remind you that the vote is in progress to elect the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. The biographies of the candidates are in Document 13525. Those who have not yet voted may still do so by going to the area behind the President’s chair. The poll will close at 5 p.m.
The count will take place in the usual manner in the presence of the tellers, Dame Angela Watkinson and Ms Judith Oehri. I remind them that they should meet behind the President’s chair at 5 p.m.
The results of the vote for the election of the Secretary General will be announced at the end of the first debate this afternoon, which is likely to be between 5.45 p.m. and 6.15 p.m.
May I remind the Assembly that at this morning’s sitting it was agreed that speaking time in all debates this afternoon be limited to three minutes? It is my duty to ensure that that is respected.
2. Violence in and through the media
The PRESIDENT* – The next item this afternoon is the debate on the report titled “Violence in and through the media”, Document 13509, presented by Sir Roger Gale on behalf of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, with an opinion presented by Ms Maryvonne Blondin on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, Document 13536.
In order to finish by 6 p.m., we must interrupt the list of speakers at about 5.30 p.m. to allow time for the reply and the vote. Are these arrangements agreed to?
The arrangements are agreed to.
I call Sir Roger Gale, rapporteur. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.
Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – I do not want to detain the Assembly for long with my opening remarks because I would like the opportunity to respond properly to any points raised in the debate. Nevertheless, it would be quite improper of me not to start by thanking the secretariat of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, and the Sub-Committee on Media and Information Society in particular, for an incredible amount of hard work. Without their services, we simply could not do the job we are required to do. I also thank in particular the overseas office of the United Kingdom delegation, which facilitated the meeting and evidence session we held successfully in London. Finally, I thank the contributors who gave evidence at our earlier hearings at the senate in Paris and those who gave evidence in London. They made a significant contribution to our work.
The provenance of the report is that it began as a report on violence on television and its consequences for children. When I took over as rapporteur, it became apparent to me that it was virtually impossible to separate the consequences of violence on television from the wider consequences of violence throughout the media more generally. With the permission of the Assembly and the Bureau, we broadened the title to what it is now.
This debate is about as old as the media itself. I noticed with wry interest that the Committee of Ministers reported on the same subject 25 years ago, which is about the time I served my first term as a member of the Assembly. In one sense, not a lot has changed since, apart from the technology. The effects of extreme violence – I am thinking particularly about high school shootings and similar events – have sadly raised the profile of the issue to a very considerable extent. We are now hugely concerned about the broad effects of violence, not only on television, but on the Internet. We are concerned about the effect of video games and child pornography, about cyber bullying and its terrifying effect on young people and about sexual violence portrayed onscreen and through the Internet on laptops and mobile telephones. Of course, we should not forget the effects of verbal violence, which are sometimes brushed aside; bad, violent and extreme language on radio or television can have a damaging effect that a child can live with through to adulthood, with very damaging consequences indeed.
As far as the Council of Europe is concerned, the only legally binding legislation relating to this issue is the European Convention on Transfrontier Television. That also goes back into the mists of time – I recall working on it when I was first a member of the Assembly 25 years ago. Is it not right that the Council of Europe takes responsibility for such issues, over and above the European Union? The 47 member States of the Council of Europe are clearly the right body within which the issue can and should be properly discussed. There are a number of national media bodies. In the United Kingdom, we have the British Board of Film Classification, the Netherlands has the Netherlands Institute for the Classification of Audiovisual Media, and the Pan European Game Information system seeks to regulate video games, but there is no single body doing all this, and nor should there be.
The thrust of the report and all that it contains is to say, “Wake up and smell the coffee.” We have a very real problem throughout the media, but we must take responsibility for it nationally. There are different cultures across the 47 member States of the Council of Europe, and one size does not fit all. Different bodies of opinion have different views on what is permissible or acceptable and what is not. For example, what is acceptable to a person of one faith might not be acceptable to another. For that reason, members may find my conclusions slightly anodyne. That is deliberately the case, because I want to see the responsibility for these issues being placed where I believe it truly lies: in the hands of national parliaments and national bodies, with overarching oversight from the Council of Europe. Yes, let us pull together as much as possible – let us share common practice and best practice and try to make this work together – but let us leave the local decisions in the right hands, because they should be taken by national parliaments. I believe that those parliaments are best placed to resolve what I hope we can all agree on, because this issue affects literally every family in every member State of the Council of Europe represented here. This violence – this vile problem – has an impact on every household, so it is for us as parents, grandparents and national parliamentarians to address it as locally as we can and seek to bring it to an end.
The PRESIDENT* – You have six and a half minutes left for your reply to the debate.
I call Ms Blondin to present the opinion of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development.
Ms BLONDIN (France)* – Sir Roger Gale’s report and his presentation of it demonstrate that he really knows the media. The report summarises what is at stake and makes an excellent presentation of the technical matters that one needs to know in order to understand the subject, such as the various systems of classification and the principles that can be applied to it. As the rapporteur for the opinion of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, however, I have one main comment: in my committee’s view, the report does not pay particular attention to the group that is most vulnerable to violence in the media, namely children. When I say “children”, I mean those all the way through to 18 years old, as defined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The explanatory memorandum to the report does refer to the vulnerability of children who are exposed to violence in the media, but in our view that is not significantly reflected in the draft resolution. The only legally binding tool is Article 7 of the European Convention on Transfrontier Television.
As members know, children are more and more exposed to violence – they are primary users of new technological tools at a younger and younger age, as an International Telecommunication Union study has demonstrated. There is grooming, pornographic videos and cyber-bullying, all of which can have dire consequences, including suicides. Older people making contact with younger people has always been a problem, but with Facebook it has reached a new level of danger.
Why are young people using those tools? Because they want to be in fashion. At the moment, there is a challenge called “A l’eau ou au resto”, whereby if someone does not meet the challenge of jumping in water, they have to pay for lunch at a restaurant for all their friends. In one challenge, two young people jumped into a river on their bicycles, but they did not want to lose their bicycles, so one of them tied his bike to his foot and ended up drowning. There is also the neknomination challenge of drinking alcohol as quickly as possible.
I can hear the bell ringing to end my speech – it is a pity, because I had not finished. There are many other dangers on the Internet, some of which are reflected in the amendments that we have tabled.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you, Ms Blondin. You did make your main points, I believe.
We will now proceed to the debate. I first call Mr Kennedy on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Mr KENNEDY (United Kingdom) – On behalf of myself and my group, I congratulate Sir Roger Gale, my colleague and friend from the British House of Commons, and Ms Blondin and her colleagues, for bringing forward the report and the committee opinion and enabling us to have this debate.
The title – “Violence in and through the media” – is well chosen. As far as violence in the media is concerned, all families have the ability to control it with the on/off button on their remote control. However, violence through the media can be much more pernicious, and there is no on/off control. That is why the draft resolution is correct, particularly in paragraph 2, which mentions the challenges that we face “both legally and in practical terms”. On behalf of ALDE, I add a third challenge – the ethical challenge. We have to strike the age-old balance between responsible control and the maintenance of artistic and journalistic freedom. We as a group, and the Council of Europe as an institution, need to be acutely conscious of that balance.
We agree with the broad thrust of the amendments tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, and we believe that the principles enshrined in them should be transferred into recommendations for measures that member States can take. However, I very much endorse Sir Roger’s important caveat that in transferring responsibility to member States, we should also transfer it further down to the family unit.
The United Kingdom coalition has followed a sensible approach to these matters. For example, it has empowered parents by giving them the tools and education to judge what content is appropriate for minors. It has also highlighted the difficulty of controlling content from outside the European Union.
The industry has to accept commercial responsibility, and we have good examples of that. In Britain, the late Michael Winner produced some very violent films, but he accepted a degree of responsibility by doing a great deal of charitable work for the British police.
We also have to check the pernicious growth of hate speech online. We endorse the Council of Europe’s youth campaign against it, but we are seeing bad examples of it in the Scottish referendum campaign.
Balancing journalistic and artistic freedom with the responsibility of parents and commercial interests is vital and valuable. We want that freedom to be maintained responsibly, and we do not want the Vladimir Putins of this world to point to legislation that we pass as an excuse for constraining journalistic freedom.
The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Jónasson, on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.
Mr JÓNASSON (Iceland) – The report is balanced and should be commended. It is also timely, because it addresses social ills that we are all aware of but find ourselves rather powerless against. Although, as has rightly been pointed out, this debate is as old as the media, it is timely because the salesmen of violence, particularly violent pornography, are getting more and more aggressive and penetrating our children’s world on an ever larger scale.
A key question is whether the measures that public authorities apply against media violence could infringe on fundamental rights – the rights of freedom of expression and freedom of speech. We all agree that, as Sir Roger Gale said, perceptions and interpretations of what constitutes violence can differ between individuals, between States and between times. The report states: “The perception of violence may differ among individuals and societies and may evolve over time, but it is generally recognised in Europe that freedom of expression and information…applies neither to child pornography nor to hate speech.” I absolutely agree with that, and I agree that we should criminalise the production, distribution and possession of violent and extreme pornography, but again there is a problem with the definitions. As Minister of the Interior in Iceland I tried to grapple with this social ill, but we found ourselves in a difficult situation when it came to the definitions.
The report and its recommendations are very much about awareness-raising, but there are also concrete suggestions. For instance, it recommends that we should support the Council of Europe’s youth campaign against hate speech online. That is very good and we in the Group of the Unified European Left absolutely agree with that. We are urged to take these recommendations to regulatory bodies in our homelands, and I shall certainly do that in Iceland. Thank you very much for your work.
The PRESIDENT* – I call Ms Vučković to speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Ms VUČKOVIĆ (Serbia) – I welcome the report and thank the rapporteur for the work he invested in it. The report is even more important to the members of the Socialist Group because the idea behind it was, in a way, a follow-up to Gvozden Flego’s 2010 report on education against violence at school. The report thoroughly presents various theoretical approaches and studies on the effects of violence in the media. It also presents some national, European and global attempts and practices to try to identify, determine and reduce violence in media. The report identifies the need to restrict media that contain violent content but reiterates the need equally to respect freedom of expression. That is, I think, the biggest challenge – how do we draw an exact, fair, justified and, most importantly, legal line between those two tasks? How do we respect freedom of expression while preventing misuse of that right and, in particular, protecting minors as the most vulnerable in society?
With that in mind, the resolution might have focused more strongly on the exposure of children to violence in media. Today, the media come third, after family and social environment, as a learning resource for our children. From an early age, children are exposed to media and to violence in media. Television dominates their lives. They use online media to play and to communicate with friends, and they are not protected. They do not know how to protect themselves. Parents are not sufficiently aware of the dangers and protection mechanisms and schools are not equally involved. The situation differs significantly from one country to another. If Internet literacy is less developed in a country, parents and teachers’ sensitivity to the problem of children’s exposure to violence is much lower than in a developed country.
The language and measures suggested in the proposed resolution are too general. I agree with the rapporteur for opinion, Ms Blondin, that the text of the resolution must be strengthened when calling on the main stakeholders to take active, concrete measures. Her amendments are therefore more than justified and I hope that they will be supported by the Assembly.
There are various sorts of violence in media and coming as I do from a part of Europe that has experienced recent wars, inter-ethnic conflicts and enormous rates of hate speech in the media, I feel obliged to mention violence in media in that context. On social media, there is a lot of racial, national and political discrimination and that is a direct threat. Children are again the most vulnerable. When young people are seeking their own identity, when role models in society are not adequately promoted and when the consequences of wars and ethnic cleansing are still experienced in their families, it is easy for young people to be attracted by groups that promote various forms of discrimination and hate speech. That can contribute to the adoption and continuation of beliefs and practices that we all hope will not get another chance to grow.
I thank the rapporteur for the report, which will, I hope, provoke further work in this important field.
The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Mendes Bota to speak on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.
Mr MENDES BOTA (Portugal) – Do you recall the Blacksburg school massacre in the United States in 2007? Thirty-two young people were murdered. And the one in Dunblane, Scotland in 1996? Sixteen children were left dead. And that in Erfurt, in Germany in 2002? Sixteen people were killed. In Germany again, in Winnenden in 2009, there were 15 victims. And Columbine, yet again in the United States? Fifteen students and teachers died. And Sandyhook, Newtown, USA, in 2012? Twenty children were killed.
The list goes on endlessly and crosses every continent in the world, but the massacres perpetrated in universities and high schools share a common trait. Their authors were young people who were particularly attracted to extremely violent movies and video games. What motivates these killers to walk in there shooting randomly, leaving behind a trail of death, mourning, pain and blood splattered all over the walls and ground? What goes on inside their minds? The vast majority of the investigation into that question suggests a close connection between overexposure to violent TV and a sickening use of computer games and the surge in violent behaviour among children and young people. The chances of their becoming woman abusers are also high. It is not exclusive to any race or social class. The bibliography backing this fact is vast.
The trivialisation of violence, the dessert to our lunch, sitting with us at the dinner table, ends up transforming it into something normal, a part of our daily lives. It is all fine, it is all modern-day culture. There are those who extract entertainment from it. But it is a corruption of principle: force outweighing intelligence. The inherent risk is that children tend to replicate what they see. As early as 2007, New Scientist magazine reported that on enrolling in primary school, the average North American child had already visualised about 8 000 murders and 100 000 acts of violence.
Television is a wicked electronic babysitter. There are excessively violent animated cartoons. That is what Dragon Ball, Pokemon or Power Rangers are, even given their logic of good versus evil. Children become immune to physical violence, convinced that aggression is rewardable. In saying this, I am aware that violence is a plural phenomenon and one must not ascribe its causes solely to the media. One must reject that simplification. Naturally, I agree with the proposals submitted by Sir Roger Gale, which aim to fight and control violence in the media as well to erect legal frameworks and codes of conduct. The rejection of violence as a behaviour or method of solving conflicts is a major civilisational issue and a question of civility, in which the most vulnerable must be the priority focus of our attention.
The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Bağiş to speak on behalf of the European Democrat Group.
Mr BAĞIŞ (Turkey) – In 1946, Darryl Zanuck, a producer at 20th Century Fox, said that television would not last because “People will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” The British journalist, publisher and politician CP Scott proclaimed, “Television? The word is half Greek and half Latin. No good will come of it.” Today, we know that they were both wrong.
The media undeniably plays an indispensable role in modern societies. As elected representatives, we all have a responsibility to protect the freedom of the media, but the media should be responsible, too. As emphasised in the report, States have an obligation to combat media violence and protect society – especially minors – from its harms. Only last month, in an attack in the US, two school children, both 12, allegedly stabbed their schoolmate 19 times and left her dead in a bid to impress a mythological Internet character often portrayed in violent scenes called Slender Man. Media freedom cannot provide impunity from motivating violence, and media power and influence are disproportionate to their accountability. Today, powerful corporations have enormous influence over mainstream media without adequate oversight. Stories can end up being biased or omitted so as not to offend advertisers, owners or their interests. Preventing monopolisation is a must. The freedom of society and the individual is as important as the freedom of the media. As the Nobel Prize-winning French author and philosopher Albert Camus put it, “A free press can of course be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom it will never be anything but bad.”
At times, the media can turn into a massive machine of bullying and bashing against targeted people who do not have a chance to clear their names against waves of unsubstantiated accusations. I stand before you as a victim of such top-heavy, propagandist, militant journalism. Throughout Europe, we all witness media mechanisms being directed against migrants, minorities or different groups, especially during election periods, to incite racial discrimination and hate speech. Global challenges such as terrorism, narcotics, sexual and physical violence, illegal migration, uncontrolled gambling, xenophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and all other types of discrimination require global co-operation. Double standards in approaching these issues only hurt the sense of credibility and co-operation among our member States. We must keep in mind that no one is 100% safe until everyone is safe.
I congratulate the rapporteur and thank him for his contributions to this report.
The PRESIDENT* – Rapporteur, you may respond to the speakers on behalf of groups. Do you wish to take advantage of that, or will you answer at the end of the debate? You will not speak now. Very well, we move on to the next speaker, Mr Geraint Davies.
Mr G. DAVIES (United Kingdom) – We are facing a social time bomb across Europe, with children weaned on a diet of sexual violence that, if left unchecked, will breed further escalation in rape and violence against women. Politicians across Europe have consistently understated the problem and continue in a shocking complacency, with obsolete measures that are incapable of addressing new problems.
Television watersheds, voluntary use of filters and raising awareness of online risks are woefully inadequate responses. The average age of a child encountering pornography is now just 11. Children see pornography on smartphones before they have sex education at school. A report to the Children’s Commissioner in England found that girls and boys now have their sexual expectations created by pornography. Many boys now believe that they have an absolute entitlement to sex at any time, in any place and in any way, and girls often feel that they have no alternative but to submit to the boys’ demands. Explicit, violent, non-consenting sex glorifying rape is just a few clicks away. Sexual bullying through sending intimate images is now widespread. The problem is so deep-rooted that, according to the NSPCC in Britain, one in two boys and one in three girls now believe that there are circumstances in which forced sex is okay.
Meanwhile, music videos are corrupting behaviour: the hit single “Blurred Lines” repeated the line “I know you want it”, words spoken by actual rapists, together with “Do it like it hurts” and much worse as topless women strutted around male singers. However, the State does nothing to protect women from being routinely depicted as highly sexualised, passive objects. This is no surprise. The media industry is male dominated and intrinsically sexist. Males outnumber females by three to one in family films and men outnumber women by five to one as producers, directors and writers. Revenge porn, in which intimate images from former relationships are posted online, is now a common form of sexual violence, which should be criminalised immediately.
Death threats on Twitter against campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez and Stella Creasy, MP in Britain may be just the tip of the iceberg. People will know that JK Rowling, who wrote Harry Potter, was called a “bitch”, a “bastard” and a “cow” just for opposing Scottish independence, while no such assaults occurred against men. Meanwhile, the British press – the Daily Mail – described the gang rape by six footballers of a group of 12-year-old girls as a midnight orgy and the victims as “Lolitas”. Of course, most rapes are not reported or charged and do not result in conviction.
We need action beyond the proposals here today. We need smartphones and computers with a non-porn default position. We need sex education to start much earlier and to include “No means no.” We also need a media industry that reflects the population it serves. Otherwise, we will continue to feed the beast that threatens to devour our very civilisation.
Mr ROCHEBLOINE (France)* – The subject that the Assembly is debating today is not new but it is somewhat discouraging to note the permanence of the problem of violence as portrayed in the media at a time when communication media have grown and diversified exponentially. It is therefore to be feared that legal recommendations alone, be they as relevant as those of our rapporteur, will probably not be enough.
First, the production of images of violence is increasingly outside the control of public authorities. Hertzian-wave national television, with just a handful of programmes, was fairly easy to control, although it has not always been controlled in the area that is of concern to us. However, Internet exchanges are far less easy to channel. Even if filtering is added on the pretext of restricting access to violent content, it must be handled with caution or we will offer far too easy a justification to authoritarian governments who could use this type of specious pretext to deal a blow to freedom of expression and communication.
The rapporteur is right to draw attention to child pornography on the Internet. The protection of the moral integrity of children, as long as decisions are adequately and appropriately regulated, will justify taking down such sites so that they can do no further harm.
The development of violence through the media is an expression of a broader crisis, very often a crisis that is rooted in tradition. The shooting massacres that have blighted university campuses in the United States are perhaps not unrelated to the constitutional tradition of possession of firearms being a fundamental individual right. Is that legal packaging not one of the processes of habituation or desensitisation referred to in the report? When the collective mindset does not limit in any way the possession of instruments of violence, it is impossible effectively to limit media representation of that same violence.
We must also concede that violence pays. The example of video games is very telling. These video games are being produced by major enterprises and they have to be made accountable for undermining the mental well-being of a sector of the population, particularly young people. It is only unflinching social resolve that can ensure that the proposals of the committee do not remain a dead letter.
The rapporteur has talked about social norms being reduced to an unregulated or anarchic State. It is a question of striking the right balance, but the difficulty of doing that in social relations and the regulation of economic activity has created a situation that has led to violence being imposed on children through the media. Certainly, let us look at the effects, but let us also look at the causes.
The PRESIDENT* – I do not see Mr Biedroń, so I call Mr O’Reilly.
Mr O’REILLY (Ireland) – Common sense, practical observation and a large number of studies by eminent psychologists leave us in no doubt that exposure to violent images over time desensitises, dehumanises and contributes to aggression and violent behaviour. Of course, this can be aggravated by exposure to actual violence and by certain genetic factors.
A six-year-old spends an average of 14 hours a week in front of a screen and an 18-year-old 45 hours. Some 60% of television programmes contain violence, with half of those shown during children’s viewing time.
Video games are very serious. They contain gratuitous violence towards fictional beings, while killing is approved of and leads to the next stage of the game. We need very strict enforcement of age limits, with clear forms of identification being given for verification, such as birth certificates, passports or student cards. Plain clothes police officers should be deployed to implement those rules and ensure that they are observed, as has been done in other spheres.
The exposure to violence through video games, the Internet, social media and television can feed into cyber-bullying. Just as I believe that the entire area of video games needs constant scrutiny and attention by governments and the Committee of Ministers, I believe that we must have a huge focus on cyber-bullying. It is pernicious and insidious. Its ultimate impact can be suicide or self-harm. Tragically, there have many high-profile cases in our respective countries.
The freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights obviously does not apply to child pornography or hate speech. There is a definite link between the exposure to child pornography and sexual assaults. Commercial producers of violent media content must be controlled and have a social responsibility. Strict licensing is needed and gratuitous violence in the media should be prohibited.
In 2008, the Committee of Ministers adopted guidelines for Internet service providers and online game providers. The guidelines included independent labelling, ratings systems and parental control tools. The Committee of Ministers and our national governments must constantly be engaged with the issue of violence and the media. We need strong rules and real enforcement. In parallel with that, we need educational initiatives and positive distractions for our young people. Needless to say, I strongly support the Council of Europe’s youth campaign against hate speech.
We must be vigilant at all levels – governmental level, Committee of Ministers level and right throughout society. I congratulate our rapporteurs on a good day’s work. This matter is very important to our young people.
Ms FATALIYEVA (Azerbaijan) – I thank both rapporteurs for drawing the attention of the Assembly to such an important issue for the modern world.
The media has a greater effect on the human psyche than we think. Nowadays, children are raised on action movies, mysteries and reality shows that are bypassed by censorship. What will we get from the future generation? The propaganda of violence in films, on television, in video games and in contemporary music is the main cause of the universal brutalism of today’s youth. When mass consciousness becomes accustomed to such products, the prospect of their prohibition is doomed to failure.
Psychologists and sociologists all over the world are sounding the alarm about violence in the media, such as sophisticated on-screen killings and bloody computer games. The cynicism surpasses all imaginable and unimaginable moral barriers. Many experts concur with the view that virtual violence can cause actual violence.
What are we to do about this situation? It is obvious that a simple ban will not solve the problem, because it has long had a global character and is above the inter-State level. In addition, a ban usually increases people’s interest in the topic concerned. The main suspect who might be guilty of causing the mass collapse of our moral and social foundations is the entertainment industry. Movies, TV shows, computer games, music and literature cultivate various forms of violence that quickly reach the consumer. Children have inappropriate idols, and inappropriate characters become heroes for them.
Television addiction is caused by the public’s need for constant novelty and sensation through the medium of the screen arts, which are fundamentally based on the principle of repetition. That allows people to manipulate the consciousness of the viewer. When people lack a full awareness of the boundaries of reality, they perceive all the events that occur before their eyes as real. Murder and violence do not cause them to feel fear or disgust, because when they get accustomed to such television broadcasts, those things seem not only real, but natural.
Three problems that are associated with the heavy viewing of television violence are constantly identified in research: children may become less sensitive to the pain and suffering of others; they may become more fearful of the world around them; and they may be more likely to behave in an aggressive or harmful way towards others. Their exposure to violence in the media leads children to see violence as a normal response to stress and an acceptable means of resolving conflict.
The prevalence of violence in society is a complex social problem that will not be solved easily. Violence in the media is only one manifestation of society’s fascination with violence. However, media violence is not just a reflection of a violent society; it contributes towards violence in society. If all member States wish to produce a future generation of productive adults who reject violence as a means of problem-solving, we must reassert the vital roles of government and legislation in protecting our most vulnerable citizens and, together, work to make the media part of the solution.
Ms ZOHRABYAN (Armenia)* – Our Assembly has returned to the issue of the mass media and that is to be welcomed. Violence in and through the media is a topical problem for the member States of the Council of Europe. We cannot pretend that there are not serious reasons to be gravely concerned.
The rapporteur is right that, over the past decade, the world of the media has changed considerably because of the extraordinary development of the Internet and digital media. At the same time, the risk of negative phenomena has increased, including the promotion of violence in and through the media. The rapporteur proposes, as a preventive measure, that member States combat the promotion of violence in a systematic and clear-cut manner.
However, what can we do when it is a member State of the Council of Europe that is the most active promoter of violence, hatred and racism? Furthermore, in that member State, journalists and intellectuals who dare to speak out against violence and racism are detained and thrown into jail. Let the facts speak for themselves. The Azerbaijani ombudsman, Elmira Suleymanova, has declared that Ramil Safarov “must become an example of patriotism for the Azerbaijani youth.” That declaration remained on the front pages of the Azerbaijani media for a long time. Another Azerbaijani militant, Anar Mamedkhanov, has declared that Azerbaijanis should kill Armenians in Karabakh and not in other countries. Once again, that has been on the front pages.
Every speech by President Aliyev is a new appeal in favour of racism and violence. If any journalist or member of the media dares to express a contrary opinion, he is thrown into prison. I was profoundly shocked by the confession of an Azerbaijani girl of 12 years old, who said in public that she decided to become a sniper in order to kill Armenians. It is risible that, at the same time, Azerbaijan considers combating hatred to be one of its priorities during its chairmanship.
Our colleague, Sir Roger Gale, made a very important observation in his report: children should be protected from the promotion of violence. For some years, I have been in touch with various international bodies, including the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe, and have sent them extracts from Azerbaijani textbooks that are full of anti-Armenian sentiments, but I have received no answer.
We meet here a few times a year not to exchange empty words, but to find concrete solutions to concrete problems. The head of the Azerbaijani delegation, who is sitting in the Chamber, therefore does not have the right to announce that the Council of Europe has lost its influence and should disappear from the political arena of Europe.
The PRESIDENT* – I do not see Ms Santerini in the Chamber, so I call Ms Djurović.
Ms DJUROVIĆ (Serbia) – I congratulate the rapporteur on his comprehensive report on this enormously important issue.
Scientists have argued for many years over whether violence in the media is increasing aggressive behaviour among young people. However, they all agree that there is a connection between the two.
Parents who are trying to protect their children from violence in the media face a hard challenge, because today it is practically impossible. Violence is present in all forms of modern communication. Disturbing images of violence dominate TV news programmes and movies. Songs and music videos are increasingly dedicated to violence. The best-selling video games across the world are those that have violence as their sole aim and purpose.
Being aware of that upsetting situation and the changes in the media landscape, it would be beneficial if the Council of Europe prepared some practical guidance for parents, teachers and the media on how to deal with the effects of media violence on individuals and society and on how to counteract the impact. To counter violence in the media, States should adopt clear legislative measures, and sanctions against those who violate them.
It is necessary to speak to parents, since they still have the key role in shaping the opinions of young people, but it is not sufficient. The problem also needs to be addressed by other influential stakeholders in our societies – first and foremost, schools. Media literacy is of key importance to the development of young people’s critical, systematic and logical thinking. They must be assisted and supported in becoming a critical audience, capable of making a distinction between actual and media reality. The promotion of media literacy must be one of the principal interests of both society and the State.
The connection between gender and violence is evident in the media, in particular in advertisements and violent movies. The phenomenon is particularly worrying at a time when countries are trying to curb violence against women.
To change the situation for the better, we must include all stakeholders – the State, the media industry, the education system and the family – and define their respective roles in finding solutions. The resolution before us today has huge importance, since it includes guidelines and recommendations of vital importance. I will support the resolution and the recommendations with great pleasure, as they are an important step in regulating the rules that govern the media landscape.
Mr JAPARIDZE (Georgia) – I commend the rapporteurs for their timely and excellent reports, which have triggered many memories, as well as reflections on the future.
For decades, if not millennia, reality has been a battlefield. That has been clear to our part of the world since the days of perestroika, which I remember because I was born in the Soviet Union. Yet the means of that battle are changing. In Ukraine, we are witnessing a war of the media, in which new military technology, namely drones, are being used to convey images. Social media can take up those images to create contesting versions of reality. It is telling that the contest is not so much about the authenticity of the images as about their meaning. That leads us to the conclusion that the Chinese saying is now simply wrong: an image is not worth a thousand words. In a world where the proliferation of images is inflated, words are again our reserve currency.
The fear of social media tells of an emerging warfare of meaning. Governments are as able as ever to control the production and dissemination of centralised images, but in the era of Twitter, YouTube, Skype, Facebook and 4G mobile equipment, not to mention drones, control over meaning and information is no longer a straightforward matter. We are moving from the mass faceless crowds of the 20th century to smaller, still massive, but much more engaged networks of specialised, framed, fractured and motivated users of information. That was clear in the Maidan in Kiev, in Tahrir Square in Cairo and, much earlier, in the colour revolutions.
Propaganda will of course be an increasingly bigger dimension of modern warfare, which will be not only more expensive, but more sophisticated. We are moving from a 20th-century model of governance, founded on great disseminators, to an updated and less elitist 19th-century model of “fighters of persuasion”, so it is of the utmost importance that the question of moral authority and the code of conduct in information and reporting is on the table. It is a question of governance. The moral high ground is no longer simply an idealist call. It is a digital world, and our rapporteurs have described it precisely and clearly.
Ms KARAPETYAN (Armenia) – Violence in and through the media is one of the most important, although partially covert, threats faced by modern societies. Over the past decade, the media landscape has changed substantially due to the huge growth in information technologies and online media. The draft resolution reflects most of the challenges connected with the topic, but some aspects of violence could have been better represented.
As we know, hate speech and xenophobia are major issues that many States face within their borders. Some countries, however, have adopted them as a national policy and we must talk about that openly as well. There is a Council of Europe member country where educational programmes, media, civil society and even foreign policy and lobbying are completely consolidated on the one and only mission of spreading hate and xenophobia against ethnic Armenians.
That is not an accusation or a political announcement, but a major problem that the entire population of Armenia has faced every day for 23 years. In particular, because of the advocacy of hate and xenophobia through the media, Azerbaijani society hates everything that is connected with Armenia and Armenian culture. We all remember Ramil Safarov, who killed his Armenian colleague while he was asleep. Such brutal killings can happen every day and anywhere, because the Azerbaijani people are constantly fed and nurtured on hate speech.
Azerbaijan is doing everything in its power to make the international community think that it is carrying out some reforms. Instead, just a couple hours ago, we heard a speech full of hate and the violation of truth. In particular, the Azerbaijani President mentioned a reduction in corruption as a priority for his country. That country, however, is famous as an absolute champion of so-called “caviar diplomacy”. He also mentioned media reforms, but all of us saw young people in the gallery with their mouths taped, signifying the absence of freedom of speech in his country. Even now, the media have already distributed that in a specific way, with xenophobic elements.
The only reason why the regime in Azerbaijan is succeeding is that it has considerable energy resources flowing to Europe, where we are today discussing a draft resolution on violence in and through the media. The problem is significant and needs to be reflected in the resolution, because we believe that hate speech and xenophobia at the State level, and in education, the media and the production and distribution of literature, including the Internet, should be criminalised.
The PRESIDENT* – I remind members that the vote to elect the Secretary General of the Council of Europe is in progress. The poll will close at 5 p.m. Those who have not yet voted are invited to do so now.
We now continue with the debate. I call Mr Xuclà.
Mr XUCLÀ (Spain)* – I thank Sir Roger for the report. I am equally grateful to Ms Blondin for her opinion.
We are talking about an issue of great interest, because freedom of expression means access to information. The use of machinery and new technology has had a huge effect on traditional ways of accessing information. We have moved away from a traditional system, in which there was a kind of hierarchy of information. In that situation, people were well informed, because information was processed by others and then supplied to the citizenry. That was hierarchy, but now we have a horizontal situation. We all have our tablets – and equal value is ascribed to a citizen report from Ukraine as to other types of media.
In the same way as we have fast food and instant emotions, we are living in an era of instant or fast news. We need to be aware of that. There are two basic forms of information. Traditional media such as TV and radio have an impact on certain forms of violence, particularly in respect of young people, but social networks are the real issue. There are a lot of anonymous and false profiles as well as genuine ones, and people can misinform others using them. I am a regular user of Twitter. I often get very relevant information from Twitter far earlier than I would get it via traditional media. At the same time, there is false information and misinformation. We need to be aware of that and try to draw a distinction between what is relevant and what is irrelevant. It is important that we have a robust legal framework and competent authorities to distinguish fact from fiction and truth from lies.
Preserving freedom of expression is important to the Council of Europe. Many Council of Europe countries – France and Spain are models – have audio-visual observatories, government bodies that monitor the content of television programmes to ensure that the rights of young people are respected in them. That is just a part of the information panorama. About five or 10 years ago, we talked about the impact of TV programmes on young people. Certain programmes were on TV only late at night. Those days are long gone, because young people can go on Twitter, Facebook and elsewhere on the Internet. Harassment, bullying and sexual harassment are as rife on the Internet as elsewhere, and the responsibility is probably in the hands of the family and those in the young person’s immediate environment.
I do not have any ready-made solutions to those problems. However, we live in a jungle of hyper-connectivity, and in an era of mass information and misinformation. We must realise that we have fast news as well as fast food. There are various stages to the process. Therefore, Sir Roger’s report is timely and appropriate. I will certainly vote in favour of it and will listen carefully to the rest of the debate.
Ms BİLGEHAN (Turkey)* – I thank Sir Roger for his detailed report. It is perhaps a little technical, but it is also important and interesting.
The debate on violence in the media has been on the agenda of the Council of Europe for some time. We know that, apart from recommendations and resolutions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the guidelines of the Committee of Ministers, the European Court of Human Rights has produced a wealth of case law on the subject. As we read in the report, the perception of violence varies according to the individual and the society, but it is generally admitted that freedom of expression and information, as guaranteed in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, would prohibit child pornography and hate speech. We can therefore call that a red line – at the outset, we should avoid confusion between the desire to protect children against violence portrayed in the media and attempts at censorship. As adduced by the rapporteur, we should not use such arguments in order to stifle opposition by restricting press freedom.
The role of the media is growing in the day-to-day lives of our society. At the same time, with the development of social media and the Internet, negative violent behaviour is leaving its mark on our societies. According to Sir Roger’s report, it is acknowledged but not yet 100% proven that violence portrayed through the media has an effect on the behavioural conduct of individuals. In the same way, violent programmes can lead to the emergence of acts of violence in real life. For example, as referred to in the report, the catharsis model, which is relatively new, suggests that violence in the media shapes violent conduct but does not necessarily trigger it. In fact, violent behaviour is the result of a combination of factors, including genetic factors, family influence and the experience of violence. There are environmental factors such as stress, although stress should not serve as a pretext for violence.
We should take into account the changing media landscape. Clearly, governments must use financial and other sanctions to reduce the negative effects of programmes. There are various types of control machinery. I believe the Pan European Game Information system is the best – fortunately, there is little recourse to the filtering system used in Turkey.
We support the excellent report and the amendments tabled by Ms Blondin, which will only add to it.
The PRESIDENT* – I do not see Mr Loukaides, so I call Mr Rivard, Observer from Canada.
Mr RIVARD (Canada)* – It is a pleasure to speak again in this Assembly. I congratulate the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media on the report and especially the rapporteur on the quality of his work.
The theme brings together both the mandate and the raison d’être of the Council of Europe, particularly in respect of its work on cybercrime and violence against children. The problem, which is also being tackled by parliamentarians in all countries, affects the most vulnerable in our society such as children and women victims of violence. The situation is such, that it is more and more urgent for us to complete our work through an effort that reaches beyond boundaries and frontiers.
We can see examples of the joint work that is necessary to tackle the problem in the recent work of the Parliament of Canada. In December 2012, a standing committee of our senate published a report following a study of online bullying by the young. For instance, the committee recommended that the federal government should work with provincial and territorial governments to contribute to the development of a co-ordinated strategy for combating online bullying. It also recommended that such a strategy should be implemented in compliance with Canada’s obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In April 2013, a standing committee of Canada’s House of Commons considered the issue of social media and the protection of private life. The committee noted in its report that social media can serve to incite violence against certain vulnerable groups, such as women who are victims of domestic violence and the handicapped.
Other examples could also be given in terms of laws passed. A few days ago, our parliament was considering draft law C-13, the law on protecting Canadians against cybercrime, which makes it a crime to distribute intimate pictures without the subject’s consent. It also modifies the tools available to the police when they follow up online crime, including online bullying. Parliament legislated in 2011 to force Internet service providers to declare any child pornography that they revealed. Our criminal code was also changed in 2012 to add new crimes to protect children. It is now, for instance, a crime to make sexually explicit material available to children.
Certain measures can be taken at the national level to combat the problem of violence in and through the media. However, it is important to stress that the very nature of the media is such that they do not recognise frontiers. Consequently, the violence that happens in and through the media requires an international co-ordinated initiative. The choice of vehicle for how to challenge this initiative is not in any way self-evident. It is a huge challenge for the international community. The work undertaken by members of this Assembly is a significant contribution to the work to tackle the problem’s international dimension.
Ms A. HOVHANNISYAN (Armenia) – I thank the rapporteur for the report on a question that is of great concern. We fully support the report.
Just two hours ago, we witnessed a speech by Azerbaijani President Aliyev, whose declarations on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the so-called occupied territories and the absence of political prisoners can be called nothing less than grotesque. If I was a fan of the grotesque style, I could bring the following example from Azerbaijan’s history textbook for the sixth grade, which says that achievements of Azerbaijan’s science were used in the discovery of America. This style is not appropriate at the Council of Europe.
I was going to speak on another subject, but President Aliyev is the main newsmaker in his country. He was so impressive in insisting that the Internet and all media are free in his country, but that is not the case. Let me draw some facts to your attention. According to Index on Censorship, the clampdown on independent and critical media continues, while nearly all broadcast media remain owned by the State or controlled by the authorities. The independent press has faced economic discrimination, with editors claiming that authorities regularly pressure advertisers not to place advertising in critical papers. Meanwhile, Azerbaijani public officials have used criminal and serial defamation to stifle critical journalists. Critical newspapers are barred from press distribution networks that are controlled by State officials. More than 70% of distribution has fallen under government control and 42% of the population have no access to press kiosks.
Only recently, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Muižnieks, drew our attention to the case of human rights defender Leyla Yunus and her husband. Mr Muižnieks said, “This is an additional example showing the extent of intimidation and repression of critical voices in Azerbaijan, a problem which I have repeatedly highlighted – most recently, through observations published last week – and asked the Azerbaijani authorities to address.” The people responsible for the murders of journalists Elmar Huseynov and Rafig Taghi have yet to be found. There are still no suspects named or charged with the violent attack on Idrak Abbasov in 2012.
In June 2012, Hilal Mammadov, the editor-in-chief for the newspaper Tolyshi Sado, reported ill treatment and torture. Two weeks before the presidential elections, Mammadov was sentenced to five years in prison on charges of treason, inciting ethnic hatred and drug trafficking. The examples are endless and new ones appear every day. As David Kramer, the president of the American human rights organisation Freedom House said, “The government of Azerbaijan is trying to silence the country’s remaining civil society and pro-democracy activists.” Freedom House rates Azerbaijan as not free in “Freedom in the World 2014”. Now they want to try to silence the whole of Europe. This is something we cannot and should not tolerate.
Ms MATTILA (Finland) – I congratulate the rapporteur on producing a timely report that recognises the problems and focuses on the solutions.
We should not submit our societies to violence in any form, including through the media. Security is a fundamental right and a basis for well-being. Let me therefore once again call for the establishment of national strategies for cybersecurity. We should also include the protection from violence in the media in our strategies for national security. In Finland, we are preparing a White Paper on national security in time for the next election. As violence in the media does not respect national borders, any strategy must also be part of cybersecurity.
At its worst, media violence is like an infectious disease, but it also needs solid ground in which to be rooted. In principle, our use of different media is constantly increasing, so the risks of violence through the media are also on the rise. The media is everywhere and we, ourselves, as legislators contribute to the rise in its users. Without media literacy and national control mechanisms for media content, violence in the media will only continue to spread. In the end, the phenomenon is also connected to prospects of economic gain.
The report presents several theories for violence, based on which we can establish that there is such a thing as media violence. No life is solely based on virtual games or violent games including blood and guts. Our media should encourage positive development for children and young people, as well as peace, in schools. Finland has evidence of successful trials of school policing through which media violence can be addressed. It might sound dramatic to have police in school, but in Finland it is used for the purposes of fostering and prevention.
As I said, media is everywhere. Therefore online content should be regulated in the same way as offline content, although I understand the problems with filtering software. The prevention of violence in the media should enjoy wide support in society. It is about values. In other words, communities should condemn violence in the media on a broad scale and refuse to accept it as a course of action.
Ms CROZON (France)* – I mostly support the conclusions in the report that recommend the use of solutions that we have been using in France for many years now, in particular having a regulatory body and a standardisation of ratings in respect of visual education. Unfortunately, that is not enough. It is necessary that we adopt the amendments tabled by our colleague, Ms Blondin, on behalf of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development. In regulating media violence, our overriding objective should be to safeguard children. Unlike adults, children do not necessarily freely choose the images to which they are exposed or choose to look at violent images. They do not necessarily have the wherewithal to understand the context and meaning of images or information, and are not always able to separate fact from fiction.
It is not always easy to strike the balance between respect for fundamental rights – such as the freedom to create, the freedom of expression and the right to information – and the need to regulate access to content to safeguard children. Nor is it easy to decide what should fall under regulation and what under education or parental responsibility. That has become even more complicated in the era of new media, because violent images are no longer aired just once at a particular time on a screen, which allowed parents to retain control over when and where their children had access to such images. Now they can be relayed virally and are available 24 hours a day on all kinds of devices – even on a simple telephone.
The classic forms of regulation that banned broadcasting of certain material at certain hours or parental warnings will not be enough. There are filtering mechanisms, but I was talking to a class of 25 10-year-old pupils in France of whom only three had any filters on their devices, so nothing will be possible without the involvement of parents. That is why it is vital that we all shoulder our share of the responsibility and work together. Parents need to be aware of the dangers posed by images and access providers must ensure that access to existing technologies is made easier. Content producers should avoid the gratuitous use of violence and ask themselves about the meaning of the information they are distributing. The public authorities also need to play a role in the process.
Mr NIKOLOSKI (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”) – I support this important report, which is good to have. I want to reflect on the UNESCO global media violence study, which is the largest ever intercultural project on this topic, which looked at how children are affected by the media. This global survey found that 93% of the students who attend school in rural or urban areas have regular access to television and other media and that they spend more than 50% more time in front of the television than on their homework or being with friends or reading.
With the advance of mass media, including television and, more recently, video and computer games, children and teenagers are exposed to increasing doses of aggressive images. In many countries, there are on average five to 10 aggressive acts on television an hour. Violence among the young is also increasing, which makes it possible to correlate the two even though we believe that the primary causes for aggressive behaviour in children are found in their family environment and social and economic conditions. The media, however, plays a huge role.
Most studies show that the relationship between the media and violence is real and that the media can contribute to aggressive culture. People who are already aggressive use the media further to confirm their beliefs and attitudes, which in turn are reinforced in the media context. To give an example, in the answers to a standardised set of 60 questions, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, the global icon, was found to be known to 88% of the world’s children. On role models, boys most frequently named action heroes as their top role models, with about 30% giving that as their answer. The figures varied, but that answer was given in Europe and America by about 25%.
A remarkable number of children – more than 44% – report a strong overlap in what they perceive as reality with what they see on screen. I could speak on this topic for hours as it is one of my interests for research. I support the report and we should continue to develop ideas on this issue.
The PRESIDENT* – Colleagues, you have another five minutes left to vote for the Secretary General. I call Mr Huseynov.
Mr HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – I have been a member of the Azerbaijani Parliament and the Council of Europe for 13 years. In my capacity as a member of committees on culture in both bodies, I have focused deeply on problems that relate to journalism and the media. That I was a professional journalist before my election to parliament is one reason for my interest in this field. I worked as a correspondent on Radio Voice of America in Azerbaijan for 10 years. Before that, I worked intensively in both radio and television as well as in the media. This is therefore familiar territory for me. In fact, I am currently working in journalism as well and have been enjoying that opportunity.
I am well informed on the progress and problems in this field. On the one hand, some problems relate to external influence and attitudes. On the other hand, some issues derive from journalism itself. In my country we have a proverb: “Appetite is under the teeth.” Beauty and positivity know no boundaries and the right to anticipate better conditions is normal.
Nevertheless, we face problems in our journalism, which above all relate to professionalism. That is not peculiar to my country, but found in most of the post-Soviet space. In such countries we can read articles and watch programmes in which we notice that the journalist has nothing to do with journalism. Today, nearly 10 000 people are working directly in the media as journalists for newspapers, information agencies, radio and television stations in Azerbaijan, but the majority of them have not been trained as journalists – they are amateurs.
Widespread dilettantism and unprofessional conduct in journalism is dangerous and has considerable implications: unprofessional conduct leads to systematic violation of professional media ethics and racket journalism, which leads to a loss of respect from society towards the profession. There is also the problem of chequebook journalism conducted for visible and invisible political forces such as oligarchs and other external forces.
I have some words on the speech made by our Armenian colleague. We are talking today about violence in and through the media and pressure in the social world and thinking about how to stop that, but unfortunately our Armenian colleague showed us another example of such violence in her speech. Once again, false information against Azerbaijan has been given. Of course, I deny all the blame and incorrect information given about Azerbaijan and our President.
I ask our colleague to analyse attentively the thoughts expressed earlier by our President Ilham Aliyev. His main suggestion was that if Armenia wants to improve and develop in the future, it should stop its aggression in all spheres. Our Armenian colleagues should also stop giving such aggressive speeches, which are another form of violence.
The PRESIDENT* – The voting for the election of the Secretary General is closed. I invite our tellers, Dame Angela Watkinson and Ms Judith Oehri, to meet behind the President’s chair. The results of the election will be announced between 5.45 and 6.15 p.m., after our debate.
Mr Sekulić is not here, so I call Mr Ariev.
Mr ARIEV (Ukraine) – It is very important to protect the audience, especially a young audience, from violence in the media. Modern content is full of episodes that are sometimes disgusting to watch – I am talking about movies and games, but pictures from reality are no better.
Just surf the web: even if you type the word “love” into a search engine you can find a picture or video that has nothing in common with that happy word and is actually in the 21 and over category. YouTube and other video services are full of scenes of school and street violence. Video from warfare around the world, containing images of dead bodies, is openly available with unlimited access. That makes people more receptive and, through a snowball effect, could provoke an increase in violence in society.
We have had a vivid example in Ukraine, where young serial killers slew more than 10 homeless persons. They start out watching violent scenes on the Internet, then try killing pets, and continue with human killings. Limiting access to violent scenes in the media could, therefore, save lives, and the draft resolution is very important and timely. National parliaments and governments have to take the next steps quickly.
However, one kind of violence in the media is very difficult to stop, especially if it is supported by the State and enforced by manipulation. I am talking about Russian media outlets that are now working to such harsh standards that the famous Nazi ideologist and peddler of huge lies, Josef Goebbels, could work only as a coffee boy in today’s Russian television. Mercenaries recruited in Russia and other CIS countries are sent to eastern Ukraine and are using propaganda messages and pictures of dead bodies and violent scenes from footage filmed well in advance around the world – from Iraq, Syria, Chechnya, Dagestan and so on – that Russian TV news propaganda presents to Russian and international audiences as victims of the Ukrainian army.
Violence to the mind is no better than violence to the body. Lies and manipulative psycho-technologies, mixed with crime and violent scenes on TV, mistreat the audience and provoke hatred and aggression. I am reminded of the image of the mass media described in George Orwell’s book, “1984”. Now that writer’s dystopia has become Russian reality. This problem is gravely difficult to resolve by resolutions and recommendations. The question is how to defend the whole of Europe from the State whose leader has based his politics on lies, terrorism and violence.
The PRESIDENT* – Ms Gerashchenko is absent, so I call Ms Gorghiu.
Ms GORGHIU (Romania) – Nowadays, the words of John Stuart Mill, “My freedom ends where others’ freedom begins”, are sometimes replaced by abuses. The report is comprehensive, and I wish to address one issue in particular – the effects that violence in the media have on children. I am shocked by the figures in the report that children have seen 200 000 acts of violence by the time they reach 18 and that 94% of video games have violent content. We are witnessing clear signs of the need to increase awareness among adults about the exposure of minors to such materials.
As I have said in previous debates in the Parliamentary Assembly, the advantage of the Internet – boundless freedom – is also its curse. According to the European Union Kids Online survey in 2012, more than 13% of children in Romania have experienced online bullying. Additionally, 22% of children aged between 11 and 16 have seen or received sexual messages, 38% of whom are not bothered by the information. We have become very tolerant of violence in entertainment, such as games and movies, and also in the news that we follow, driven by the desire to be in touch with everything that is happening. Perhaps we have become too tolerant about the freedom of others and we are ignoring our own freedom and dignity.
I welcome the efforts of all online, news and social platforms that verify content, text or pictures, and do not endorse posts that are violent, discriminatory or contain direct attacks on people. The power to notify such content should be available to all, children and adults alike. In order to create a welcoming environment, not a primitive one, both online and offline public authorities, media service providers, teachers, parents and NGOs should apply the law, punish deviation and contribute to the development of a framework document that will strike a balance between the provision of information and its quality, based on law and humanity.
I agree with the speakers who said that we need to distinguish between freedom of expression, which should be clearly protected, and abuse. The media and journalists must be protected, but we must prosecute violence. I congratulate the rapporteur on the report.
The PRESIDENT* – I call Mr Shai, Observer from Israel.
Mr SHAI (Israel) – Eight days ago, three Israeli boys were kidnapped while hitchhiking in Israel. Their names are Eyal Yifrach, aged 19, Gilad Shaar and Naftali Frenkel, both aged 16. They were all abducted. I wish to take this opportunity to appeal to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to exert every possible effort to return the abducted Israeli teenagers. It was purely an act of terror. This brutal act was perpetrated by Hamas, which is recognised as a terrorist organisation by the European Union and the entire international community. Terrorism threatens Israel as much as it threatens Europe.
The kidnapping goes against every basic human right that the Council of Europe is pledged to defend. We should all join forces to combat this threat against innocent civilians, including women and children. Terror endangers the peace process, in which this forum is very interested, and prevents any hope of the progress that we are trying very hard to make.
At the Arab Nations conference a few days ago, President Abu Mazen met the foreign ministers of various Arab countries and said that those behind the kidnapping did it in order to destroy the Palestinian Authority. I appeal to colleagues to do their utmost to help Israel and the entire community to bring the boys back.
The PRESIDENT* – That concludes the list of speakers. I call Sir Roger Gale to reply. You have six and a half minutes.
Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – I thank colleagues for an excellent and, by and large, temperate debate on a difficult subject. I had hoped to respond courteously to everyone by name, but my notes tell me that we have heard from 25 speakers so that will not be possible in six and a half minutes. I apologise.
The themes that were raised fall broadly into four categories. First, the emphasis on children, which I accept entirely. It will become clear in due course that the amendments will be accepted almost entirely, with only one or two very minor changes. I hope that that will satisfy everyone. There is no doubt that the effect on children, and therefore, ultimately, on those children as adults, is dramatic. Matters such as hate speech and xenophobia affect children and the teenagers and adults they turn into. One or two colleagues referred to parental control, and I do believe that parents have a responsibility in all this. It cannot just be left to us legislators; it is also the responsibility of us parents and grandparents.
Secondly, the issue of the desensitisation and brutalism of violence came forward quite forcefully. In that context we must pay attention – perhaps I have not paid enough – to things such as television news. Access to information was mentioned, as were disturbing images, but some of those images – those bodies on the screen – are in straightforward news reports that no one would wish to censor. If we expose children and young people to that kind of violence, they will clearly become desensitised very quickly. We must take that on board when those of us who play a part in journalism consider our editorial decisions.
Thirdly, my old friend Charles Kennedy started, and a number of other colleagues continued to remind us of the balance between freedom of expression and responsibility, and the need to strike that balance. That is, of course, the dilemma. One man’s freedom can be another man’s chains. The phrase “access to content” was used by one speaker, and that perhaps lies at the heart of the debate. It is not just the content, but who has access to it and under what terms. Nevertheless, we must retain the balance between freedom and responsibility.
Finally, one speaker mentioned what was to me a novel thought: the possibility that the media might be part of the solution. As a media person, I have never really looked at the issue that way. Perhaps we need to harness the forces of what some of us regard glibly as evil and turn them into good, because if we use the Internet, television broadcasts, Twitter, Facebook and all types of social media for the power of good rather than evil, and if we harness that energy to get across the message that violence is wrong, we might just be on to a winner.
The PRESIDENT* – I call Ms Guţu, chair of the committee, You have the floor for two minutes.
Ms GUŢU (Republic of Moldova)* – We should welcome the fact that the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media has submitted this report on violence in and through the media. Certain cultural traditions promote freedom of expression, so it is sometimes difficult to determine what can be prohibited and what cannot. The report and the draft resolution, which was drafted very professionally by Sir Roger Gale, send the message that in our national legislatures we parliamentarians should understand the importance of the problem, define the concept of violence in and through the media, and introduce appropriate restrictions through national legislation. That way we can ensure that our societies are physically and psychologically healthy.
Much has been said about protecting young people and adolescents from exposure to violence, but what happens after the age of 18? We have talked so much about children, but could there not be increases in criminality in many countries because adults are also being exposed to violence? In any event, it is up to us as national legislators to take on board this complicated and important issue.
I thank the rapporteur for his very good and meticulous work and the rapporteur for opinion of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, which submitted a number of amendments. I call on all present to support the resolution. Thank you again, Sir Roger, for such a useful report.
The PRESIDENT* – That concludes our debate on the report.
The Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media has presented a draft resolution, to which seven amendments and two sub-amendments have been tabled. The Committee has also tabled a draft recommendation, to which two amendments and one sub-amendment have been tabled.
We will now consider the draft resolution. I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendments 1 to 4 and 7 to the draft resolution, which were unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly under rule 33.11.
Is that so, Ms Guţu?
Ms GUŢU (Republic of Moldova) – Yes.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone object? There is no objection.
The following amendments have been adopted:
Amendment 1, tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 3, to replace the last sentence with the following sentence:
“The interactivity of computer games, Internet tools (social networks, chat rooms, search engines, online shopping, and so on) and the accessibility of those media from anywhere (via ‘smartphones’) create numerous possibilities for users to actively steer the violence found in and conveyed through the media, and to identify with it.”
Amendment 2, tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, which is, in the draft resolution, after paragraph 3, to insert the following paragraph:
“Because they are very active in certain new media, children (up to the age of 18) are especially exposed to the new forms of violence found in and conveyed through the media and to all the attendant risks; their situation therefore deserves particular attention.”
Amendment 3, tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 5, to add the following sentences:
“Child pornography and child abuse images as serious violations of children’s rights have been covered by the Assembly in its work leading to Resolution 1834 (2011) and Recommendation 1980 (2011) on ‘Combating “child abuse images” through committed, transversal and internationally co-ordinated action’. Violence may also be insidiously conveyed through the media, for example in the depiction of the hyper-sexualisation of children.”
Amendment 4, tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 6, at the end of the first sentence, to add the following words:
“and to be aware of the particular vulnerability of children in this sphere”.
Amendment 7, tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, which is, in the draft resolution, at the end of paragraph 10.2, to add the following words:
“, in particular where images of aggression against children are concerned;”
We will now proceed to consider the remaining amendments, which will be taken in the order in which they appear in the Compendium.
I remind you that speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.
We come to Amendment 5, tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, which is, in the draft resolution, paragraph 9, to replace the first sentence with the following sentence:
“Consequently, convinced that governments, national parliaments and media service providers have a duty to combat violence in the media, the Assembly asks them to take the following measures:”
I call Ms Blondin to support Amendment 5.
Ms BLONDIN (France)* – It is a question of rewording the text in order to make it more hard-hitting. It is not just a question of principles; we want to call on member States to introduce constraining measures, as is their duty or responsibility.
The PRESIDENT* – We come to Sub-amendment 1 to Amendment 5, tabled by the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, which is, in Amendment 5, to replace the word “duty” with the word “responsibility”.
I call Sir Roger Gale to support the sub-amendment.
Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – This is a very small issue, and Ms Blondin could say with total justification that it was me that used the word “duty” in the original draft, not her. Nevertheless, I have taken the opportunity to table a sub-amendment because I have come to the conclusion that I am not certain that national parliaments have a duty, but they certainly have a responsibility. The sub-amendment will make that clearer.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment?
Ms BLONDIN (France)* – In favour.
The PRESIDENT* – The committee is of course also in favour.
The vote is open.
Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment 5, as amended? That is not the case.
The committee is obviously in favour.
The vote is open.
We come to Amendment 6, tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, which is, in the draft resolution, before paragraph 10.1, to insert the following sub-paragraph:
“devise and implement national programmes to raise awareness both of violence and of media skills for people who work with children, for families and for children themselves, based inter alia on greater European co-operation in this field”.
I call Ms Blondin to support Amendment 6.
Ms BLONDIN (France)* – The amendment is about a matter that we have already discussed – implementing national programmes addressed at various target groups, particularly children. We need to do that in a fairly harmonised way so that European countries have similar legislative systems.
The PRESIDENT* – We come to Sub-amendment 1 to Amendment 6, tabled by the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, which is, in Amendment 6, to delete the following words: “based inter alia on greater European co-operation in this field”.
I call Sir Roger Gale to support the sub-amendment.
Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – I will not make a big deal of this, because I endorse the amendment, but it struck me that ending it with the words “and for children themselves” would make it stronger. I have nothing against European co-operation and everything in favour of it, but the thrust of the report is to emphasise the responsibility of national governments. It is for that reason alone that I would like to make the amendment stronger by ending with the words “and for children themselves”.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment?
Ms BLONDIN (France)* – In favour.
The PRESIDENT* – The committee is obviously in favour.
The vote is open.
Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment 6, as amended? That is not the case.
The committee is obviously in favour.
The vote is open.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 13509, as amended.
The vote is open.
The draft resolution in Document 13509, as amended, is adopted, with 85 votes for, 2 against and 4 abstentions.
The Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media has also presented a draft recommendation, to which two amendments and one sub-amendment have been tabled.
I understand that the Chairperson of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media wishes to propose to the Assembly that Amendment 8 to the draft recommendation, which was unanimously approved by the committee, should be declared as agreed by the Assembly. Is that correct, Ms Guţu?
Ms GUŢU (Republic of Moldova) – Yes.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone object? There is no objection
The following amendment has been adopted:
Amendment 8, tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 4.1, to replace the words “deal with the effects of media violence” with the following words: “deal with violence in the media and its effects”.
We come to Amendment 9, tabled by the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, which is, in the draft recommendation, paragraph 4.2, to replace the words “assess the feasibility of ensuring” with the following words: “encourage, through relevant existing partnerships between intergovernmental bodies and private stakeholders”.
I call Ms Blondin to support Amendment 9.
Ms BLONDIN (France)* – I do not consider it within the remit of the Committee of Ministers to make recommendations that are addressed directly at the media industry. There is already partnership and co-operation between the private sector and the Council of Europe.
The PRESIDENT* – We come to Sub-amendment 1 to Amendment 9, tabled by the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, which is, in Amendment 9, to delete the word “existing”.
I call Sir Roger Gale to support the sub-amendment.
Sir Roger GALE (United Kingdom) – This is a very minor point. When I read the words “relevant existing partnerships”, it struck me that it might rule out future partnerships. Removing the word “existing” would open the door to future partnerships.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the sub-amendment? That is not the case.
What is the opinion of the mover of the amendment?
Ms BLONDIN (France)* – In favour.
The PRESIDENT* – The committee is of course in favour.
The vote is open.
Does anyone wish to speak against Amendment 9, as amended? That is not the case.
The committee is obviously in favour.
The vote is open.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft recommendation contained in Document 13509, as amended. I remind you that a two-thirds majority is needed.
The vote is open.
The draft recommendation in Document 13509, as amended, is adopted, with 87 votes for, 1 against and 4 abstentions.
(Ms Brasseur, President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Rouquet.)
3. Evaluation of the implementation of the reform of the Parliamentary Assembly
The PRESIDENT* – I thank Mr Rouquet for presiding over the previous debate.
The next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report titled “Evaluation of the implementation of the reform of the Parliamentary Assembly”, Document 13528, presented by Ms Liliana Palihovici on behalf of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs.
I remind colleagues that there is a time limit of three minutes on speeches.
I call Ms Palihovici, Rapporteur of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.
Ms PALIHOVICI (Republic of Moldova) – I would like to propose for members’ attention and discussion the report on the evaluation of the implementation of the reform of the Parliamentary Assembly, on which the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs has worked for two years.
In 2011, the Parliamentary Assembly implemented wide-ranging reform and adopted measures aimed at improving the efficiency of its mode of operation, the coherence of its organisational structure and its means of action; strengthening its political relevance, credibility and the visibility of its action; generating the greater participation of its members; and promoting better interaction between the Assembly and national parliaments. In order to carry out a precise assessment of the reform, the committee undertook several important activities, including developing and approving a questionnaire for the national delegations and members of the Assembly to identify their expectations about the activities of the Assembly and its committees. As rapporteur, I also wished to find out the opinion of the Assembly's committees on the measures implemented since 2012 and their impact on their modes of operation and activities. Committees were therefore consulted on a number of issues in February 2014. I thank all those who played an active part in that survey: chairs and members of committees, chairs and members of national delegations, members of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs and committee secretariats.
By analysing the collected information on the follow-up to the decisions taken by the Assembly in connection with the reform, we may conclude that concrete initiatives were taken to increase the Assembly's visibility and modernise its communication tools. The Assembly has improved its webpage, making it more interactive and user-friendly. Facebook and Twitter accounts were opened and they became popular.
The implemented reforms have directly influenced the attendance of Assembly members at plenary sessions and committee meetings and the annual reports of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs clearly show an improvement in Assembly members' participation in plenary sessions, in voting during plenary sessions and in committee meetings. On the last point, it is indisputable that the reform, by deciding to reduce the number of committees and to limit membership of committees to full members, has resulted in a mathematical increase in participation.
The provision to include in the agenda at each part-session separate time for free debate is also a popular measure much appreciated by Assembly members. The survey results show that the reform, which called for quality over quantity – "do less but do better" – has undeniably led to a significant fall in the number of adopted texts. During the 2013 session, the Assembly adopted 84 texts, compared with 143 in 2010. There has been a dramatic fall in the number of recommendations addressed to the Committee of Ministers, with 25 in 2013 compared with 56 in 2010.
There is no doubt that the reform that has been implemented for over two years has shown positive results, but there is a strong expectation among delegations that more should be done to take advantage of the Assembly's strengths. Efforts should therefore continue to be made, especially in order to maintain the interest of national parliaments in the Assembly's work. This means that the committees' work programmes should be refocused on future-oriented subjects that are of interest to national parliaments and meet the expectations of European citizens in a more immediate and more substantive way.
As part of the follow-up to the Assembly reform, the delegations showed a very keen interest in promoting direct discussions between the Assembly committees and their counterparts in the parliaments of member States. With regard to making the Assembly more visible, we should note the proposal of some delegations and members of the Assembly to enhance the representational role of the President of the Assembly, who could be regularly invited by national parliaments to report on the Assembly's activities.
In the answers they provided, the national delegations pleaded for the setting up of a more regular exchange of views with the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. Some committees thought that this could help to ensure that the Assembly's recommendations were better taken into account when the Secretary General defines the Organisation's priorities.
In the report, you will find information and opinion on other questions involving the amendment of the Rules of Procedure, such as the revision of the procedure for challenging still unratified credentials on procedural grounds, which is Rule 7; the clarification of the procedure for challenging individual members' still unratified credentials; how to enable the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination to be asked for an opinion in the event of a challenge to the still unratified credentials of a delegation on procedural grounds; the clarification of the procedure for voting on amendments; the limitation of the number of reports produced by the same parliamentarian; the modification of the arrangements for publication in an addendum to the official report of speeches that were not delivered; the clarification of the rules governing dissenting opinions when a draft report is examined in committee; and the introduction of a waiting period at the end of a term as chair or vice-chair of a committee.
The committee considered all the proposals for amendments that might be made to the Rules of Procedure presented by national delegations, committees and members of the Assembly. It decided to propose that the Assembly:
revise the procedure for challenging still unratified credentials on procedural grounds, modifying Rule 7;
enable the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination to be asked for an opinion in the event of a challenge to the still unratified credentials of a delegation on procedural grounds related to the representation of the sexes;
amend the conditions for the admissibility of amendments in order to include a provision stating that an amendment is inadmissible if it seeks to change a draft resolution into a draft recommendation;
encourage the involvement of a larger number of members as rapporteurs and members of the bureaux of the committees and sub-committees;
limit the total number of reports, for all committees, for which a single member is responsible to five reports or opinions, subject to a maximum of two reports or opinions per committee;
set a waiting period of two years before the outgoing chair or vice-chair of a committee or a sub-committee may stand again for election to such positions in another committee, which should be increased to four years before the outgoing chair or vice-chair of a committee or a sub-committee may stand again for election to those same positions in the same committee;
modify the status of the immediate past President of the Assembly as ex officio member of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, which shall be aligned with that of chairpersons of political groups in this committee;
set up a general committee on the election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights to replace the present sub-committee, which would consist of 20 full members and 20 alternatives appointed by the political groups according to the D'Hondt system, chosen from their members with a high level of legal knowledge, as well as the chairs of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination as ex officio members;
amend the terms of reference of the Committee on Migration, Refugees and Displaced Persons to include issues relating to population, demography, nationality and stateless persons;
include a condition governing representation of the under-represented sex in observer delegations;
amend the provisions on the publication in an addendum to the Official Report of speeches that were not delivered;
include in the Rules of Procedure a provision relating to the minutes of committee meetings;
and include in the Rules of Procedure an explanatory footnote on the procedure for including a dissenting opinion in a report.
All these points are part of the draft resolution of the report. Again, I thank all those who participated in preparing the report and in preparing and debating the first draft of the resolution, and I say a special thank you to the secretariat of the committee, who helped me a lot with the report.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you very much for your report, rapporteur. You will have three minutes to reply.
As you are a member of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs, I ask permission to break our rules and interrupt our debate to allow me to give the results of the election of the Secretary General. With your permission, I will do it now.
4. Election of Secretary General of the Council of Europe
The PRESIDENT* – The number of members who voted was 252. There were three spoilt or blank ballots, so the number of votes cast was 249. The number of votes needed for an absolute majority is 125.
The votes were cast as follows: Mr Thorbjørn Jagland received 156 votes and Ms Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger received 93 votes. Mr Jagland, having obtained an absolute majority of the votes cast, is elected Secretary General of the Council of Europe for a term of office of five years, starting on 1 October 2014. Congratulations, Secretary General. I also congratulate Ms Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger and thank her for being a candidate.
Ms LEUTHEUSSER-SCHNARRENBERGER (Candidate for the Office of Secretary General) – President, dear colleagues and Mr Jagland, it was a great honour for me to be the German Federal Government’s candidate for the office of Secretary General of the Council of Europe. I am grateful to all the members of the Parliamentary Assembly who have supported me.
I congratulate Mr Jagland on his re-election and wish him good luck for his future work and all success in dealing with the great challenges that the Council of Europe faces today. I want the Council of Europe to make full use of its unique potential and to become Europe’s human rights conference.
The PRESIDENT* – Once more, I thank Ms Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger for being a candidate and for the way in which she congratulated our new Secretary General. I hope that we can continue to work together.
Now I have the pleasure of giving the floor to the new Secretary General.
Mr JAGLAND (Secretary General of the Council of Europe) – Madam President and dear friends, I should first like to thank all those who voted for me and all those who did not. I also thank my competitor for a very fair campaign. This is a great moment for me. It gives me the chance to carry forward important processes that were started five years ago to strengthen all the tools that we have in our hands to make the European Convention on Human Rights – the pan-European human rights protection system – even better than it is today. I also hope to bring to an end the very important process of European Union accession to the European Convention on Human Rights and to the European Court of Human Rights.
I will continue to be Secretary General for all the members in this Chamber, all the political groups and all the member States. Europe simply cannot afford to create new dividing lines. On the contrary, I strongly believe that the European Convention on Human Rights and the legal space it constitutes help to overcome dividing lines. Having common rules, common standards and common laws is a very important tool to unite us on the European continent; indeed, we need it more than ever.
I shall say one more thing. I stress the importance of the fact that the Secretary General is elected by the Parliamentary Assembly. That secures the integrity and independence of this Organisation so that we do not become part of a huge negotiation over all the posts in the European arena. We are here to be independent. It also secures the independence of the Secretary General. It is very important for me to have a mandate from the Parliamentary Assembly. I am anxious to continue working with you. I think we can do it better, and I have some ideas for how we can improve relations between me and the Parliamentary Assembly and the methods that we use in that respect. I will come back to that. This is a very great moment for me. Thank you very much to all who voted.
It is important to note that the turnout was high, given that one delegation could not vote and some delegations could not be here at all because of important business in their own parliaments. Thank you very much.
5. Evaluation of the implementation of the reform of the Parliamentary Assembly – resumed debate
The PRESIDENT* – Now we will return to the report. I call the first speaker, Mr Tiny Kox, who will speak on behalf of the Group of the Unified European Left.
Mr KOX (Netherlands) – Following that intermezzo, before I thank the rapporteur I have to congratulate our new Secretary General on his re-election. That is indeed a great honour for him, as it is for us. I also thank Ms Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger for being an excellent competitor. I listened very carefully to the Secretary General saying that he will invest in the relationship with this Assembly. We will remember that, Mr Jagland.
I turn now to the report. On behalf of my group, I congratulate Liliana Palihovici on a most effective report on the evaluation of the implementation of the reform of the Assembly. We had three rapporteurs to prepare it: Serhiy Holovaty, Egidijus Vareikis and now Liliana Palihovici. Together, they have produced an excellent report. The work started more than two years ago in 2011, when we implemented substantial reform of the work of this Assembly, which was most needed. We still owe thanks to our former President and rapporteur, Jean-Claude Mignon, who prepared the report on the reform of the Assembly.
Overall, we have seen substantial improvements in the functioning of our Assembly, as today’s report mentions. Nevertheless, there are elements that still have to be taken into account according to our members, delegations and political groups. Those ideas were collected by the three rapporteurs I have mentioned.
The Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs discussed the proposals that the rapporteur made on the basis of the comments that she received. The good news is that we decided unanimously that the draft resolution should be adopted. That is a compliment to the rapporteur, who listened carefully to what the Assembly had to say about the updates that were needed to our rules of procedure and functioning.
While I support all the rapporteur’s proposals in the draft resolution, I want to emphasise one important element, which is the proposal to have a full committee for the election of judges to replace the sub-committee that we have currently. My group sees that as a clear improvement in our procedures, because it will allow all political groups to select their very best members to do that important work for the Assembly. The rapporteur said that she had taken that point into account.
The rapporteur proposes that the full committee should have 20 members, with substitutes. She made good arguments for that. We discussed that proposal in the committee. There are some amendments that would make it 47 members. I understand the arguments for that. There is nothing wrong with involving more people in the work of the committee, but it is a special committee and we have to guarantee that everything that is said is held in camera. Otherwise, people will not submit themselves to become judges of the European Court of Human Rights. I support the rapporteur in saying that 20 members is enough in this case and that we should not accept the amendments. That was the decision of the committee by a vast majority.
Lastly, this update of the rules does not deal with the delegations of our partners for democracy. I was not able to promote my ideas on that matter with the rapporteur. In the next update, I think that we should consider the position of those delegations, which are very much involved in the work of the Assembly.
Once again, I give my compliments to the rapporteur.
The PRESIDENT – I call Mr von Sydow to speak on behalf of the Socialist Group.
Mr von SYDOW (Sweden) – Some years ago, Mr Mignon chaired a reform group and its reforms have been implemented. Now, it is time to evaluate those reforms. The main outlines are positive. However, this is perhaps not a changed Organisation when it comes to debates, reports, resolutions and recommendations that have mattered. To my mind – most members of the Socialist Group are of the same view – that is due to the changed political landscape in Europe. We saw that in the European elections a few weeks ago. The political system has changed. To our minds, that is not for the better in many respects. There has been an increase in populist, right-wing attitudes.
We face sharpened debates in this Chamber when we scrutinise human rights, democracy and the rule of law in some member States. Of course, that has led to higher attendance. That is fine, but one must also take into account the other pole when speaking about democracy: consensus. All the time, democracy is flitting between conflict, which can be mobilising, and consensus, which can also be mobilising.
We are now in a phase in which the political system is being challenged. The organisational changes that have been made are right, but it is not our strategic thinking and long debates, with sometimes inconceivable results, that have shortened the problems, but the changed political landscape.
The Council of Europe has the “One in Five” campaign against sexual violence and the campaign to combat violence against women and domestic violence. Those are fine, but our Organisation is not big in those fields. We could do much more by bringing our norms to the attention of bigger actors.
The Secretary General, who has just been re-elected, can give new impetus to what he has committed himself to and to what is in the report. There could be a more intensive dialogue between him and us parliamentarians. He has shown interest in the Committee of Ministers. I know personally from when he came to the discussion on Kosovo and the Council of Europe that that process can work. I suggest that most of us would like to work in that way. There are good reasons for having more rapporteurs. I hope that they will work in closer contact with the other institutions of the Council of Europe.
The Socialist Group is basically in favour of the reform and we also look on this as a positive evaluation of past reform.
(Mr Giovagnoli, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Ms Brasseur.)
The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr von Sydow. I call Mr Preda to speak on behalf of the Group of the European People’s Party.
Mr PREDA (Romania)* – I congratulate the rapporteur on the report on the implementation of the reform of the Assembly. It is useful because it flags up some of the shortcomings that have been encountered and will help us to ensure that the Assembly functions as smoothly as possible.
I emphasise the importance of the process for appointing judges to the European Court of Human Rights. We welcome the transformation of the sub-committee into a fully fledged committee that will, in turn, enhance the visibility of the Assembly.
Equally, we believe that parliamentarians should be more involved in the work of the Assembly. I fully endorse that. If a member of the Assembly is preparing five reports during his term of office, he will not be entitled to be appointed to prepare another report. Members of the Assembly who are chairs or vice-chairs of a committee will have to wait two years before they may be reappointed.
We support the draft resolution because we believe that it is a good idea to transform resolutions into recommendations, as well as to make referrals to the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination if a national delegation does not have its credentials ratified because it has failed to include members of the under-represented sex. I urge members of the Assembly to look for themselves at the new rules that will govern the functioning of the Assembly.
The PRESIDENT – I call Mr Neill to speak on behalf of the European Democrat Group. Happy birthday!
Mr NEILL (United Kingdom) – Thank you, Mr President. On behalf of the European Democrat Group, I congratulate the rapporteur on her work and on the report. It is a broadly positive report that States that good work has been done. However, as we all concede, there is more work that we must continue to do to keep up the momentum on involving not only all members of the Assembly, but all the parliamentary institutions that we represent back at home. We also need to ensure continuing improvement in the cohesion of the various parts of the Council of Europe, such as the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers and our various other agencies. We have made a start, but we must continue.
We support the thrust of the report and the recommendations. May I make three specific points? First, on the Sub-Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights, I agree with the stance of the rapporteur and the comments of Mr Kox. I have frequently served as an alternate member on the sub-committee and it is critical that it is of a manageable size. Unlike other committees, it carries out a vital interview process, which has to be done discreetly, if we are to get the best possible candidates, and with sensible questioning and answering. That would not be possible with the normal size of committee. It is therefore important that, to get the best possible candidates for the Court, we stick to the recommendations.
Secondly, like the previous speaker, I welcome the limitation on the number of rapporteurships that can be held. Some colleagues frequently take on a number of rapporteurships. We welcome their taking on that work load, and it is no disrespect to the quality of such work to say that, none the less, such a limitation will make it possible for more members of the Parliamentary Assembly to be involved. That is important in strengthening our credibility among ourselves and in our representative member parliaments.
My final point is not specifically about rules and procedures, but about the way in which we work: if we are to maintain and, I hope, enhance our credibility among the citizens of our member States, not only do our reports need to be of high quality, as they generally are, but we need to be swifter about producing them. If our reports are to make the important political impacts that we wish them to, they must be timely and therefore topical and relevant. Sometimes reports are extremely worthwhile and useful, but, frankly, they might be neither topical nor directly relevant to the key concerns of the citizens of our member States. As sensible politicians, we should be able to achieve that, and the revised proposals for the rules and procedures will help. We can also ensure, through how we operate, that we concentrate on discussing the issues that really matter to the citizens of our member States. There is not much point in producing reports a couple of years after the events that triggered them. In the minds of our citizens, that creates a dislocation between the actions of the Assembly and what is happening on the ground. None of us wants to see that.
The report is a good basis for going forward and, with those comments, I commend it, unamended, to the Assembly.
The PRESIDENT – I call Ms Taktakishvili, who will speak on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
Ms TAKTAKISHVILI (Georgia)* – I congratulate the rapporteur, as well as the members of the committee, on the draft report, which is well developed and well argued.
I underscore the importance of one of the novelties proposed: the setting up of a new committee responsible for the election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights. The status of a full committee, rather than that of a sub-committee, emphasises the importance attached by the Assembly to that important task. Furthermore, it is up to us, the members of the Assembly, to ensure that such an important power in the hands of the Parliamentary Assembly is performed in the best way possible. The members of the full committee are to be chosen by the political groups and respecting the geographies of the countries represented, which is already important progress, and the Assembly should be congratulated on that.
Finally, I want to evoke two proposals that were not retained in the resolution, but might be interesting. In the Assembly, we have mentioned the possibility of sanctioning individual members if they do not respect or act in conformity with the principles of the Statute of the Council of Europe and its preamble, especially if they act blatantly in breach of those principles. The committee decided that the right of expression of parliamentarians was more important than limiting hate speech against minorities, and it did not introduce the possibility of individual sanctions.
Another aspect of the process is an inclusive one, because the presidents of the national delegations and the chairs of the committees were consulted when the report was being produced. There was a proposal about the possibility of introducing voting in the Chamber by secret ballot. Obviously, that posed the problem of the responsibility of Assembly members towards the citizens whom they represent. Should a secret ballot take place on draft resolutions? In that case, European citizens would be deprived of being able to have an insight into the work of their parliamentarians, posing a problem for the transparency of our work and for our responsibility vis-à-vis our citizens. We therefore refused to introduce the secret ballot, even though it was a secret ballot on resolutions.
What will the proposals in the report change for us as parliamentarians? There will be a 500-word limit on speeches that cannot be delivered during a sitting and on dissenting opinions in reports and limit of five reports or opinions per individual Assembly member, so as to guarantee the availability of members. We will have a time limit for chairs and vice-chairs to allow greater participation by more members of committees and sub-committees.
I congratulate the rapporteur and to commend the report fully.
The PRESIDENT – That concludes the list of those speaking on behalf of the political groups. The rapporteur will reply at the end of the debate. I call Mr Díaz Tejera.
Mr DÍAZ TEJERA (Spain)* – I want to make three points: on effectiveness, on visibility and on transparency.
First, on effectiveness, I agree with my colleague and friend Mr Neill about the speed of taking positions, although I want to suggest something. Sometimes the Council of Europe has to adopt a decision swiftly, which is where I go along with what you say. Sometimes, however, it is important to do things in a calm fashion, serenely and slowly. That is why it would be a good idea to draw a distinction between when we have to adopt a stand swiftly and when we can take our time to ensure that we enhance the prestige of the Council of Europe. That is what we derive our strength from. We have no power, only the prestige of our reports and our views.
Sometimes, a number of our colleagues have been tempted to forsake rigour in order to get something into a magazine or newspaper. To get visibility, they go straight to the media, which is selling one’s position to be in the papers. We gain in effectiveness if we gain in rigour, so some of the reports need to be done slowly and with a commitment to truth and rigour, not simply as an attempt to get into the papers. If we sell ourselves simply to get into the papers, we are undermining truth and the prestige and effectiveness of the Council of Europe. That is why it is important to draw a distinction between things that need to be done quickly and reports that need time, appraisal and consensus. The reports we adopt in the Council of Europe go on to national assemblies and parliaments.
The lack of visibility – another ill that we have been talking about – can be resolved only through proper dissemination of what we do. On effectiveness, we should give some thought to the instruments we use to implement what we agree on. What instruments do we have to put into practice what we agree to do in the Council of Europe? We agree on many occasions, but do not monitor the follow-up and implementation or track what we have done.
The first two ills are visibility and effectiveness. I am on my own on the third ill. That does not matter – what is important is defending one’s position. One day, it might be explained to us why there are different questions for different candidates and why the matter remains secret. Some believe that the candidates are blossoming flowers. No one wants to know what questions were asked and what answers were given. Anyone with a sound legal training should not be so fragile as to be ashamed for people to know what answers they give to questions. At some point, we must ask how we enhance transparency so that we do not have such secrecy in the deliberations, the questions and the answers. I was somewhat surprised that that is happening, which is why I make that suggestion.
Mr FOURNIER (France)* – Our colleague Liliana Palihovici has submitted a report with an ambitious project to modify the rules and she has taken stock of what our Assembly has done since 2011. I pay tribute to her work. I recall the pre-eminent role played by Jean-Claude Mignon in the design and implementation of reform. The report aptly records that reform of the Assembly was necessary. It is undoubtedly a success that is recognised by all.
The proposals that have been submitted to alter the rules are not of equal importance. Not all are opportune, but several reforms would be welcome. I am thinking in particular of measures to promote the participation of a greater number of parliamentarians to act as rapporteurs, members of the Bureau, and members of committees and sub-committees; the limit on the number of reports submitted by one member; the prohibition on combining the functions of committee rapporteur and president of a committee or political group; and the establishment of a waiting period at the end of a period spent as chair or vice-chair. The improvement of the status of past Presidents of the Assembly is also necessary. That the report rejects the idea of bringing together the voting on the text in plenaries is a good thing.
On the other hand, certain proposals should not be retained, such as the one on altering the modalities for the publication in the session reports of speeches that have not been delivered. That measure would affect the expression of parliamentarians. Our speaking time is already extremely tight. The list and order of speakers is established according to complex modalities – they are mysterious indeed – that hardly satisfy anyone.
Our rapporteur proposes the establishment of a plenary committee to replace the Sub-Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights. I wonder whether such a new body is opportune. First of all, the reform of our Assembly meant the reduction of committees from 10 to eight. Two years later, we are proposing to increase the number of committees to nine. That is contradictory to say the least.
Another proposed modification seems to have already been achieved. The proposal is that colleagues called upon to provide opinions on the candidates for the post of judges are designated by political groups and chosen for their good level of legal knowledge. That is already the case. The number would go up from 17 to 20, which would not change much because, as under the current arrangements, not all delegations would be represented. Finally, reforming the structure is one thing but not the most important thing. The lack of transparency, if not opacity, of the activity of the sub-committee has been denounced many times in the past. I am still waiting to see a measure to improve the operation of the future committee.
I conclude by evoking one of the most fundamental questions on consolidating the legitimacy of our Assembly and drawing the best from our work, namely the question of strengthening the interaction between the Assembly and national parliaments. The report tackles that point and proposes some ideas, which are welcome, but without really settling the matter. It is true that that crucial challenge alone deserves in-depth reflection and a specific report.
Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – I congratulate the rapporteur, Ms Palihovici. I appreciate and support the report. The reform of the Assembly has become a major step towards increasing the effectiveness of our work, and increasing the significance of our Assembly and the Council of Europe in general in the European political context. I agree with the positive evaluation of the reform offered by the rapporteur, but I want to add a critical note. It relates not to what the rapporteur suggests, but to what is not included in the report. I am talking about the possibility of challenging the credentials of individual members, which our colleague Chiora Taktakishvili mentioned.
Unfortunately, xenophobic and even openly racist parties stand to gain more electoral success throughout Europe and are increasingly represented in this Assembly. We are not simply a gathering of parliamentarians. Our Assembly is based on clear principles of human rights and the rule of law. Politicians who explicitly deny those basic values should not be members of this Assembly. It is as simple as that.
I hope we continue to work on a solution to that problem. In the meantime, I commend the proposal to establish a full committee on the election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights instead of the existing sub-committee. The election of judges to the Court is one of the most essential tasks of our Assembly. The Assembly has adopted a number of resolutions aimed at improving and streamlining the procedure. Setting up a full committee will increase the Assembly’s capacity to deal with the election of judges. In particular, the proposal will open the possibility of political groups delegating to the committee members who are not members of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. Attendance will therefore be improved, as will the political weight of the committee.
In the meantime, I have serious concern about the amendments that aim for radical changes in the work of the new committee proposed by the rapporteur. The proposal to increase the number of members of the new committee to 47 could, to say the least, be counter-productive. I have been a member of the current sub-committee for almost 14 years and have chaired it. I believe that, if adopted, the amendment will destroy the work of the committee and nullify the valuable practical experience that has been accumulating for decades. Therefore, I call on colleagues to reject the amendment.
To conclude, I support the report, and hope that remaining issues will be dealt with by our Assembly in the near future.
Mr XUCLÀ (Spain)* – I congratulate the rapporteur, Ms Palihovici. She seems to have abandoned her seat next to me in order to be the rapporteur on this issue. I commend her, as did the representative of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe.
I would like not to challenge but to make an argument about one of the most important reforms. Mr Fournier said that is important not just to go from 17 to 20 members, but to explain why we should go from a sub-committee to a committee. The Sub-Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights depends on the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights. It is only through the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights that one can produce the Sub-Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights. That limits the technical ability to elect representatives of minority parliamentary groups. The establishment of a new committee with a limited number of members – we are talking about 17 to 20 – would not make it possible for small, minority groups in this Chamber to nominate representatives with the legal knowledge and skill to bring about better deliberations. This argument is not a riposte, but food for thought for the whole of the Assembly. It supports of the work of the rapporteur.
Perhaps I can digress for a moment and say that the current Sub-Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights spent many months being unable to resolve the nominations for the shortlist of three candidates for consideration and voting in this Assembly. That prompts us to go beyond this report and think about some of the ways some countries work when they nominate candidates. Sometimes they work according to the internal logic within member States, rather than the logic of proposing the best possible people so that we have a European Court of Human Rights of the highest possible quality. That is just a digression. Each national delegation will take that as it wishes. We cannot take months and months over the nomination of judges. We cannot be in a stand-by situation or in limbo, and have the election of judges delayed.
Another perfectly reasonable issue is for former Presidents to have the status of members of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy. In practical terms, that goes much further than the right to speak or the right to vote, which would seem to be essential for any member of a committee, and the right to be a rapporteur. It is right that former Presidents should be able to be rapporteurs. I also think it very appropriate to limit each parliamentarian in this Assembly to five reports. I think that that is proportionate and a good way of dividing the labour among all of us.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Huseynov is not here, so that concludes the list of speakers. I call Ms Palihovici to reply.
Ms PALIHOVICI (Republic of Moldova) – I thank colleagues for their appreciation of, and support for, this report.
I would like to address some of the points raised by Mr Kox. Yes, we have discussed the proposals we received from members of the Parliamentary Assembly and committees. We also began a discussion in Paris on the modification of Article 24. You proposed to modify the article and offer observer delegations the right to table motions. Those discussions have only just started and the committee decided that it would be discussed in other meetings of our committee. I did not include this in the report, because we were setting out our plan for the future activities of our committee.
I thank Mr de Vries for his contribution. The committee’s discussions and the experience the members of the committee have contributed a lot to the improvement of the draft resolution and to the report I have presented today.
The proposal to make the Sub-Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights into a committee came from the answers to the questionnaire and from letters between the committee and members of the Parliamentary Assembly. I put all the information and recommendations into the report and into this draft of the resolution. We analysed them in committee and decided that it will improve the work of the Parliamentary Assembly. I hope the Parliamentary Assembly will vote for the creation of the committee.
It is necessary to have a limited number of members on the committee. The proposals to have 20 members came after long discussions in committee. There were different proposals, but at the end of the day I selected the proposal supported by the majority of members of the committee. According to the sub-committee, 20 members is the proper number to allow the committee to be very functional and not to blow up the process of the election of judges to the European Court of Human Rights.
I thank Ms Taktakishvili and Mr Díaz Tejera for their comments. I have to say to Mr Fournier that I am convinced that we have to limit the number of members of the committee to 20. He is right to say that the committee will not have representatives of all national delegations, but we will have representatives from all political groups. From my point of view, this is the right approach for the process for the election of judges. For example, if we planned to have 47 members we would have to analyse when we would have a majority of members present at interviews. This would provoke some blockages in the process of the election of judges.
I thank Mr Cilevičs. I greatly appreciate the fact that he mentioned what is not in the report. That is good. We have discussed challenging the credentials of members of the delegation. We had a long discussion in Paris on this issue. After the vote, the committee decided to go with a small modification and clarification to the regulation, and to continue the discussions on this issue at the next meeting. It is an important issue. We are all politicians acting in different contexts with different declarations and actions. If someone considers that a politician’s actions are not right, we should discuss how those actions should be analysed. We have to be impartial and not affect the rights of the members of the Parliamentary Assembly. At the same time, we have to be very careful in the process of ratifying their credentials.
I thank Mr Xuclà for his comments. I have included in the report, after the discussion by members of the Assembly, that members of the committee on the election of the judges should have a good knowledge of legal issues. They will be electing a judge for a long period of time. We must analyse all candidates carefully and members of the committee should be professionals. Thank you for all your supportive comments. I hope that the Assembly will support the draft resolution.
The PRESIDENT – Does the chairperson wish to speak? I call Ms Vučković.
Ms VUČKOVIĆ (Serbia) – On behalf of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs, I thank Ms Palihovici for having completed the work so fast after having taking over the rapporteurship – she is the third rapporteur on this issue. I also thank her for producing a very valuable report. We would not know how successful our reforms were without evaluation and her report provides that. The report is an overview of suggestions received from members of the Assembly and national delegations who participated in the survey in 2012.
On the basis of the collective recommendations, the report proposes concrete modifications to our Rules of Procedure. Finally – this is important – it offers suggestions for further consideration by the committee and other actors in the process on how we could further amend our Rules of Procedure and our work. I agree with those who think that the changes in the election of the Sub-Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights are among the most important being made. We have agreement – we have had long debates on this in the committee – on how the committee should be reformed and its members elected.
I stress that the report has identified a wish shared by many members of the Assembly: we need to have more co-operation and synergy between the Assembly and national parliaments so that the Assembly’s work is more visible in our Parliaments and to the citizens of our countries. I hope that you share the opinion that came out of the debates in the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs that some measures and programmes that have been undertaken prove that such synergy is possible and that that should be fostered in future. I hope that the Assembly will support the resolution and the report.
The PRESIDENT* – The debate is closed. The Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs has presented a draft resolution to which six amendments have been tabled. They will be taken in the order in which they appear in the Compendium. Speeches on amendments are limited to 30 seconds.
We come to Amendment 1, tabled by Mr Fournier, Mr Rouquet, Mr Mignon, Mr Reichardt, Mr Schneider and Mr Rochebloine, which is, in the draft resolution, delete paragraph 8.9.2.
I call Mr Fournier to support Amendment 1.
Mr FOURNIER (France)* – The amendment is designed to delete the paragraph that relates to changes to provisions concerning speeches that are not given orally in the Assembly sittings. We have strong feelings about the speaking time in the Assembly getting shorter and the obscure arrangements for debates. It is important to retain the good habit of reproducing those speeches that it was not possible to give owing to lack of time.
The PRESIDENT* – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Ms Palihovici.
Ms PALIHOVICI (Republic of Moldova) – I mentioned in my speech and in the committee that I am against the amendment.
The PRESIDENT* – What is the opinion of the committee?
Ms VUČKOVIĆ (Serbia) – The committee is against.
The PRESIDENT* – The vote is open.
Amendment 1 is rejected.
Before we consider Amendment 2, I must notify the Assembly that Amendments 2, 4, 5 and 6 make the same change in four different places in the text of the draft resolution. So if Amendment 2 is rejected then Amendments 4, 5 and 6 will fall.
We come to Amendment 2, tabled by Mr Fournier, Mr Rouquet, Mr Mignon, Mr Reichardt, Mr Schneider and Mr Rochebloine, which is, in the draft resolution, in paragraph 9.1, replace the number “20” with the number “47”.
I call Mr Fournier to support Amendment 2. You have 30 seconds.
Mr FOURNIER (France)* –The draft resolution proposes to restrict the number of sitting members to 20, rather than 47, for the Sub-Committee on the Election of Judges to the European Court of Human Rights. We reject the proposition. We do not know why the number of 20 has been chosen and why such a change would avoid any dysfunctions found in the existing sub-committee. There is a lack of transparency. A sub-committee of 47 allows each member State to be attributed a member on the sub-committee, which is not a derisory idea for an act as important as electing judges to the Strasbourg Court.
The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Ms Palihovici.
Ms PALIHOVICI (Republic of Moldova) – I mentioned that, from my point of view, the large number of members will make the sub-committee unable to function. That is why I propose to reject the amendment.
The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?
Ms VUČKOVIĆ (Serbia) – The committee is against.
The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.
Amendment 2 is rejected.
As Amendment 2 has been rejected, Amendments 4, 5 and 6 fall.
We come to Amendment 3, tabled by Mr Fischer, Mr Mayer, Ms Hübinger, Mr Vogel, Ms Arpine Hovhannisyan, Mr Franken, Mr Schwabe, Ms Gabriela Heinrich, Mr Juratovic, Ms Finckh-Krämer, Mr Schennach, Mr Corsini, Mr Nicoletti and Ms Fiala, which is, in the draft resolution, delete paragraph 9.10.
I call Mr Fabritius to support Amendment 3.
Mr FABRITIUS (Germany) – I do not think that we should restrict the number of MPs or exclude languages that are used in other committees. Therefore I ask the Assembly to approve the amendment to delete the restriction on languages.
The PRESIDENT – Does anyone wish to speak against the amendment? I call Mr Cilevičs.
Mr CILEVIČS (Latvia) – One of the tasks of the new committee will relate to the linguistic capacity of candidates as required by the rules. It is difficult for me to imagine that members of the committee who do not speak any of the official languages would be able to do the work properly. It is not one of the normal committees, so I oppose the amendment.
The PRESIDENT – What is the opinion of the committee?
Ms VUČKOVIĆ (Serbia) – The committee is against the amendment.
The PRESIDENT – The vote is open.
Amendment 3 is rejected.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 13528.
The vote is open.
6. Next public sitting
The PRESIDENT – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting tomorrow at 10 a.m. with the agenda which was approved on Monday morning.
The sitting is closed.
(The sitting was closed at 6.40 p.m.)
1. Election of Secretary General of the Council of Europe
2. Violence in and through the media
Presentation by Sir Roger Gale of report of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, Document 13509
Presentation by Ms Blondin of opinion of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development, Document 13536
Speakers: Mr Kennedy (United Kingdom), Mr Jónasson (Iceland), Ms Vučković (Serbia), Mr Mendes Bota (Portugal), Mr Bağiş (Turkey), Mr G. Davies (United Kingdom), Mr Rochebloine (France), Mr O’Reilly (Ireland), Ms Fataliyeva (Azerbaijan), Ms Zohrabyan (Armenia), Ms Djurović (Serbia), Mr Japaridze (Georgia), Ms Karapetyan (Armenia), Mr Xuclà (Spain), Ms Bilgehan (Turkey), Mr Rivard (Canada), Ms A. Hovhannisyan (Armenia), Ms Mattila (Finland), Ms Crozon (France), Mr Nikoloski (“The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”), Mr Huseynov (Azerbaijan), Mr Ariev (Ukraine), Ms Gorghiu (Romania) and Mr Shai (Israel),
Replies: Sir Roger Gale (United Kingdom), Ms Guţu (Republic of Moldova)
Amendments 1 to 4, 7, 5 as amended and 6 as amended adopted
Draft resolution in Document 13509, as amended, adopted
Amendments 8 and 9 as amended, adopted
Draft recommendation in Document 13509, as amended, adopted
3. Evaluation of the implementation of the reform of the Parliamentary Assembly
Presentation by Ms Palihovici of report of the Committee on Rules of Procedure, Immunities and Institutional Affairs, Document 13528
4. Election of Secretary General of the Council of Europe
5. Evaluation of the implementation of the reform of the Parliamentary Assembly – resumed debate
Speakers: Mr Kox (Netherlands), Mr von Sydow (Sweden), Mr Preda (Romania), Mr Neill (United Kingdom), Ms Taktakishvili (Georgia), Mr Díaz Tejera (Spain), Mr Fournier (France), Mr Cilevičs (Latvia), and Mr Xuclà (Spain)
Replies: Ms Palihovici (Republic of Moldova), Ms Vučković (Serbia)
Draft resolution in Document 13528 adopted
6. Next public sitting
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
Alexey Ivanovich ALEKSANDROV*
Luise AMTSBERG/Frithjof Schmidt
Lord Donald ANDERSON*
Danielle AUROI/Maryvonne Blondin
Taulant BALLA/Eduard Shalsi
Gerard BARCIA DUEDRA
José Manuel BARREIRO*
Ondřej BENEŠIK/Marek Černoch
José María BENEYTO**
Sali BERISHA/Oerd Bylykbashi
Anna Maria BERNINI/Claudio Fazzone
Maria Teresa BERTUZZI*
Mladen BOJANIĆ/Snežana Jonica
Anne BRASSEUR/Claude Adam
André BUGNON/Luc Recordon
Mikael CEDERBRATT/Mikael Oscarsson
Lorenzo CESA/Milena Santerini
Vannino CHITI/Luis Alberto Orellana
Deirdre CLUNE/Olivia Mitchell
Carlos COSTA NEVES
Jonny CROSIO/Giuseppe Galati
Joseph DEBONO GRECH*
Armand De DECKER*
Manlio DI STEFANO
Arcadio DÍAZ TEJERA
Peter van DIJK*
Alexander [The Earl of] DUNDEE*
Lady Diana ECCLES*
Tülin ERKAL KARA
Franz Leonhard EßL
Joseph FENECH ADAMI*
Cătălin Daniel FENECHIU*
Axel E. FISCHER*
Gvozden Srećko FLEGO
Sir Roger GALE
Francesco Maria GIRO
Jarosław GÓRCZYŃSKI/Zbigniew Girzyński
Alina Ştefania GORGHIU
Fred de GRAAF/Pieter Omtzigt
Patrick De GROOTE*
Mehmet Kasim GÜLPINAR
Sabir HAJIYEV/Sevinj Fataliyeva
Mike HANCOCK/Charles Kennedy
Margus HANSON/Ester Tuiksoo
Françoise HETTO-GAASCH/Marc Spautz
Jim HOOD/Geraint Davies
Ali HUSEYNLI/Sahiba Gafarova
Igor IVANOVSKI/Imer Aliu
Denis JACQUAT/Damien Abad
Michael Aastrup JENSEN
Frank J. JENSSEN
Ulrika KARLSSON/Kerstin Lundgren
Jan KAŹMIERCZAK/ Łukasz Zbonikowski
Kateřina KONEČNÁ/Miroslav Krejča
Unnur Brá KONRÁÐSDÓTTIR*
Attila KORODI/Corneliu Mugurel Cozmanciuc
Jean-Yves LE DÉAUT*
Trine Pertou MACH*
Meritxell MATEU PI
Liliane MAURY PASQUIER
Sir Alan MEALE
Ermira MEHMETI DEVAJA*
José MENDES BOTA
Jean-Claude MIGNON/André Reichardt
Rubén MORENO PALANQUES
João Bosco MOTA AMARAL
Lev MYRYMSKYI/Andriy Shevchenko
Hermine NAGHDALYAN/Naira Karapetyan
Baroness Emma NICHOLSON/Michael Connarty
José Ignacio PALACIOS*
Eva PARERA/Jordi Xuclà
Marietta de POURBAIX-LUNDIN
Cezar Florin PREDA
John PRESCOTT/Linda Riordan
Mailis REPS/Rait Maruste
Maria de Belém ROSEIRA*
Urs SCHWALLER/Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter
Arturas SKARDŽIUS/Algis Kašėta
Lorella STEFANELLI/Gerardo Giovagnoli
Björn von SYDOW
Lord John E. TOMLINSON*
Ahmet Kutalmiş TÜRKEŞ
Snorre Serigstad VALEN*
Petrit VASILI/Silva Caka
Anne-Mari VIROLAINEN/Sirkka-Liisa Anttila
Vladimir VORONIN/Constantin Staris
Klaas de VRIES*
Dame Angela WATKINSON
Kristýna ZELIENKOVÁ/ Ivana Dobešová
Marie-Jo ZIMMERMANN/ Pascale Crozon
Vacant Seat, Cyprus*
Representatives and Substitutes not authorised to vote
Hans Fredrik GRØVAN
Mr Nachman SHAI
Partners for democracy
Nezha EL OUAFI
Representatives or Substitutes who took part in the ballot for the election of the Secretary General
Sali BERISHA/Oerd Bylykbashi
Lorenzo CESA/Milena Santerini
Jim HOOD/Geraint Davies
Igor IVANOVSKI/Imer Aliu
Michael Aastrup JENSEN
Unnur Brá KONRÁÐSDÓTTIR/Brynjar Níelsson
Trine Pertou MACH/ Nikolaj Villumsen
José MENDES BOTA