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Murder of Anna Politkovskaya

PACE calls for parliamentary investigations into the unresolved murders of journalists and announces a specific monitoring mechanism

 

Strasbourg, 25 January 2007 – While underlining the importance of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights for the protection of media freedom throughout Europe, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) today called for additional measures for effectively protecting the lives and freedom of expression of journalists.

 

Following the proposals by the rapporteur (Andrew McIntosh, United Kingdom, SOC), the Assembly called on all parliaments concerned “to conduct parliamentary investigations into the unresolved murders of journalists as well as attacks and death threats against them, in order to shed light on individual cases and develop as a matter of urgency effective policies for the greater safety of journalists”.

 

The Assembly called on the Russian Parliament to closely monitor the progress of the criminal investigation into the murder of Anna Politkovskaya and to hold the authorities accountable for any failure to investigate or prosecute. It also asked the Turkish Parliament to abolish Article 301 of the penal code on the “denigration of Tukishness”. As regards the murder of Ukrainian journalist Georgiy Gongadze, the Assembly expressed concern at the lack of progress in the investigation.

 

The Assembly resolved “to establish a specific monitoring mechanism for identifying and analysing attacks on the lives and freedom of expression of journalists in Europe as well as the progress made by national law enforcement authorities and national parliaments in their investigations of these attacks”. To that end, it invited Reporters without Borders, the International Press Institute, the International Federation of Journalists and other organisations to report such attacks to the Assembly.

 

While recalling that a number of attacks on journalists may have happened in Europe without drawing public attention, the Assembly paid tribute “to all journalists and media that further democracy and the rule of law” by their work.

 

PACE President on working visit to Moscow

Strasbourg, 09.01.2007 - Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) President René van der Linden will make a working visit to Moscow from 10 to 12 January 2007.

During his stay, he will have an audience with His Holiness Patriarch Alexy II of Moscow and All Russia (12 January) and will meet Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as well as the Speakers of the State Duma and the Federation Council, Boris Gryzlov and Sergey Mironov (11 January) and the Russian delegation to PACE. Meetings with NGO representatives and the Director of the "Novaya Gazeta" newspaper are also scheduled on Thursday 11 January.

Discussions are expected to focus on the role of the Council of Europe as a unique platform for inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue, relations between Russia and Georgia, Belarus, the role of civil society, the freedom of the media, the investigation into the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the petition on this question by Reporters without Borders. Other items to be discussed include the need to ratify Protocol No. 14 to the European Convention on Human Rights and the role of the Council of Europe as a pan-European organisation based on common values in building a strategic partnership with Russia.

* * *

The PACE President will give a press conference on Friday 12 January at 2 pm at the headquarters of the Interfax news agency, Pervaya Tverskaya-Yamskaya Str. 2, 127006, Moscow, Russia.

Democracy needs freedom, says PACE President at the Forum for the Future of Democracy in Moscow

Moscow, 18.10.2006 - “Journalistic freedom being one of the pillars of democracy, state authorities are responsible not only for the legal framework for journalism, but also for the general climate in which journalists are working. They must create conditions for journalists to work freely and independently,” said René van der Linden, President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), at the opening of the Forum for the Future of Democracy in Moscow, which is examining the role of political parties in democracy-building.

“We cannot accept a situation where the most courageous individuals make themselves possible targets because of their commitment to the principle of the freedom of media,” he said, praising the work of assassinated journalist Anna Politkovskaya. He called on the Russian authorities carry out a thorough investigation in order to bring those responsible to justice.

“Democracy needs freedom: freedom of thought and conscience, freedom of assembly and association, the freedom to vote in free and fair elections and, above all, freedom of information and expression. We must unconditionally respect our fundamental values and freedoms in all circumstances,” Mr van der Linden said, stressing the crucial importance of the freedom of media as an essential public corrective mechanism of political life.

The PACE President reminded participants that it was the politicians’ role to uphold these common values even against the public will. “The death penalty is unacceptable, even if, in many countries, it still has wide support,” he said, underlining the unique role of the Council of Europe in assisting all its members to respect its core values of human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

“As regards the essential human values of integrity, honesty and compassion, we politicians must be an example to our citizens, both in private and public life. Lies and corruption damage the very foundations of our democracies, because they destroy the vital link of trust between the people and those who govern in their name,” he argued. He also called for politicians to fight for their ideas and programmes – not for their jobs. Other key factors with regard to the role of political parties in democracy-building were fair and free elections, respect for the diversity of political opinions and respect of the opposition as well as close contact with civil society.

Mr van der Linden also stressed the need for party-building at a ‘transnational level’. “If political issues go global, political parties cannot afford not to,” he said.

Link to the speech

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