“The year may be reaching an end but the human rights challenges continue”

“The year may be reaching an end but the human rights challenges and our responsibility to speak out about them continue”, President Anne Brasseur said, highlighting four issues discussed in the PACE Bureau meeting that took place in London today.

“The refugee crisis in Europe is not going away and we continue to do too little too late. With the arrival of winter we must not lose sight of the individuals behind the numbers of people arriving and moving around Europe as they seek asylum. We have a duty to help these people, not only because it is the right thing to do, but also because it is an international obligation. As Europeans we have to stop defending our corners and come out and act in solidarity to deal with this humanitarian challenge. The longer we wait to find solutions, the more suffering there will be, and the more challenging and expensive it will become for our societies”, Ms Brasseur said.

PACE President reiterated her call on the Azerbaijani authorities to release Ilgar Mammadov. “Last week, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe examined the execution of the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights by the member states, concluding once again that the Azerbaijani authorities have persistently failed to comply with the Court ruling on the Ilgar Mammadov case. Mr Mammadov should be immediately released from prison. All main Council of Europe bodies are waiting for the Azeri authorities to comply with their international obligations in this case and to bring to an end the undemocratic crackdown against critical civil society,” she added.

As a third point, Ms Brasseur expressed concern about the conflict developing over the Constitutional Court in Poland. “In the mechanics of democracy, these Courts are one of the essential moving parts. Developments in Poland where the new Parliament has removed judges and voted in new ones, not only at alarming speed, but also with little regard to written procedures, is more than worrying,” Ms Brasseur stated.

As a fourth and final point, PACE President expressed deep concerns over the recent decision of the entity of Republika Srpska to suspend cooperation with the state-level law authorities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Challenging the jurisdiction of the state-level police and judiciary goes against the constitutional obligations of the entities of Bosnia and Herzegovina and violates the principle of the rule of law. Furthermore it does not help in establishing and safeguarding the climate of reconciliation and cooperation indispensable for the country’s democratic progress. I call on the authorities of the entity of the Republika Srpska to engage in a responsible and constructive dialogue with all relevant parties.”