AS (2017) CR 15
2017 ORDINARY SESSION
Wednesday 26 April 2017 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. The text of the amendments is available at the document centre and on the Assembly’s website.
Only oral amendments or oral sub-amendments are reproduced in the report of debates
4. Speeches in German and Italian are reproduced in full in a separate document.
5. 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.
(Ms Schou, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair at 3.35 p.m.)
The PRESIDENT – The sitting is open.
1. Changes in the membership of committees
The PRESIDENT – Our first item of business is to consider changes proposed in the membership of committees. These are in Document Commissions (2017) 04 Addendum 3.
Are the proposed changes in the membership of committees agreed to?
They are agreed to.
2. Annual activity report 2016 by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
The PRESIDENT – The first item on the agenda this afternoon is the presentation of the annual activity report 2016 by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Mr Nils Muižnieks (CommDH(2017)3). After his presentation, Mr Muižnieks will take questions.
Let me now welcome the Commissioner for Human Rights. Dear Commissioner, thank you for being here with us today. Your contribution to and participation in our debates and committee meetings bring a real added value to the work of the Parliamentary Assembly. We greatly value your dialogue with national authorities to improve the implementation of human rights in Europe. Your annual activity report describes many initiatives that you took last year, and I would like to highlight two in particular.
First, there are the precarious situation of human rights defenders and the general trend of backsliding in the area of freedom of association in several member States. That is extremely worrying, as the work of human rights defenders and non-governmental organisations is crucial for the advancement of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. Secondly, you highlighted the need to ensure that measures and policies to combat terrorism are not carried out at the expense of human rights. You are stressing the importance of the role of national human rights structures, and States should take sufficient time to take note.
Those are just two examples of the many issues you have raised in your work. We are looking forward to learning more about your activities. I am sure that members will have a lot of questions to put to you. Commissioner, you have the floor.
Mr MUIŽNIEKS (Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights) – Madame Chair, your excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, it is a pleasure and honour for me to present my fifth annual report.
The year 2016 was a turning point of sorts in Europe, in which human rights challenges accumulated at a very rapid pace. It will be remembered for a number of things. It will be remembered as the year of Brexit, which was animated to a large extent by opposition to migration. It will be remembered as the year in which several member States adopted legislation undermining the right to asylum and the prohibition on refoulement. It will be remembered as the year of the problematic European Union-Turkey statement on migration. In other words, migration dominated the political agenda for much of the year.
I addressed migration and human rights in country visits and reports on Croatia, Cyprus, Greece and Turkey. I sent letters to authorities in Belgium, Denmark, France and Spain. I intervened as a third party in a migration-related case at the European Court of Human Rights. I did a lot of communications work on migration and human rights – human rights comments and opinion editorials, urging member States and the European Union to uphold their human rights obligations. I tried to provide guidance to member States by publishing an issue paper on migrant integration. Despite my efforts, in this area member States co-operated little and often did not live up to their human rights obligations.
The year 2016 was also momentous for human rights in Turkey, which I visited twice: in April and September, following the failed coup attempt. I then published three memoranda to the Turkish authorities. The first was in October, on emergency measures and human rights. The second was in December, on counter-terrorism in the south-east and human rights. The third was in February this year, on freedom of expression and media freedom.
I continue to follow the situation in Turkey with grave concern. There was news today that another
1 000 had been purged from the civil service and police. In other words, the emergency measures remain in place. Anti-terrorist operations continue to infringe many rights of huge segments of the population. Measures restricting freedom of expression have touched not only journalists and bloggers but many ordinary social media users, opposition politicians and academics.
The year 2016 was also the year in which the Polish Government took a number of steps that encroached on the independence of the constitutional tribunal, leading to what the European Commission has called a systemic threat to the rule of law. Last year, I visited Poland three times and sought to engage the authorities in a dialogue on those issues. I continue to follow with concern new government moves affecting the judiciary.
While addressing new challenges, I remain convinced that we cannot forget about the situation in Ukraine: the huge humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine, the human rights violations in the east and in Crimea. Last year, I visited the east of Ukraine and published a report on serious human rights violations in the context of the conflict. I have already visited Ukraine again this year, my seventh visit in the last five years, to take stock of recent developments.
Pressures on human rights defenders continued in a number of Council of Europe member States. I intervened as a third party before the Court in cases about human rights defenders in Russia and Azerbaijan. I made a number of statements, organised human rights defenders round-tables, and co-operated with partners in the European Union, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the United Nations in an effort to help human rights defenders throughout Europe.
Pressures on journalists also continued. In addition to my work in Turkey, I examined media freedom in country reports on Poland and Croatia. I sought to address concerns regarding threats against journalists in Azerbaijan and Russia. The situation continues to deteriorate. Thus far, I have conducted country visits to 41 of our 47 member States and follow-up visits to many of them. I will visit the remaining six countries this year, so if I have not yet been in your country, be prepared, I am coming soon.
Over the last year, my co-operation with the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, individual delegations, committees and the plenary has continued. In January, I addressed the Committee on Equality and Non-discrimination. In April, I addressed a joint hearing of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy and the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on eastern Ukraine. I met many delegations during country visits and missions, but also here in Strasbourg.
In the introduction to my annual report, I call on PACE members to do a number of things. I call on you to relate to your colleagues back home the seriousness of the challenges to the human rights system in Europe overall and the seriousness of the backsliding in various countries, and to convey to them that it is not business as usual for human rights in Europe. I also urge you in my annual report to take an active role at national level in the implementation of European Court of Human Rights judgments, to hold your government’s feet to the fire, to allocate money, to change laws, and to push your governments to do more to implement human rights judgments in a full and timely manner. I also urge you to make the refugee relocation system work and to challenge colleagues in countries that provide insufficient integration support. If other countries do not provide that support, refugees who have been relocated will move again and create problems for other countries, so hold your colleagues to account and make sure that they are doing enough to let refugees find their path in their new host countries.
I also urge you to challenge the almost automatic prolongation of states of emergency in different countries in Europe and the derogations from the European Convention on Human Rights. People have become too accustomed to states of emergency and to these derogations. They should be used only for a short period, in truly exceptional circumstances.
I also urge you to prioritise the protection of human rights defenders and media freedom. Without those two actors, human rights defenders and journalists working freely in your countries, the whole system cannot work. We need them to signal to us problems and proposed solutions and to provide us with information on the ground. A threat to human rights defenders and to journalists is a threat to democracy more broadly.
I look forward to continuing my co-operation with you individually and collectively. I understand that you have a lot of questions for me. I would be happy to try to answer them.
Mr FARMANYAN (Armenia, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party) – May I first express my appreciation of your tremendous work and your excellent and comprehensive report?
In your report, you call on several countries to implement liberal abortion laws and you cite international human rights bodies in your justification, but the European Court of Human Rights has explicitly ruled that the Convention cannot be interpreted as conferring a right to abortion. By presuming to extend the human rights consensus, where the European Court has been at pains to respect the distinct traditions of member States, are you not undermining the European Court’s authority? Could your approach damage the ability of your office to promote authentic human rights internationally, when the post-Second World War architecture of human rights defence faces many threats and dangers? Are you ready to engage with the Assembly and to discuss the issue with us?
Mr MUIŽNIEKS – Thank you for that question. I have examined women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights in a number of country visits and in my thematic work as an important women’s rights and gender equality issue. The right to life under international human rights law does not apply to prenatal life, but it does apply to women. The human rights that can be violated in the context of sexual and reproductive health are various. They include the right to private life, access to health, the right to bodily integrity, the prohibition on ill treatment and the right to non-discrimination. There is growing case law in the European Court and the social charter as well as at United Nations level. I do not hesitate to invoke United Nations standards and guidelines on this issue. Sometimes, they do go beyond the strict jurisprudence of the European Court, but I do that in all realms, not only in this realm.
I would be happy to engage with you further in a discussion on the issue. Later this year, I will publish an issue paper on women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. I think we will have occasion to discuss the issue at length.
Mr LE BORGN’ (France, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group)* – Commissioner, I share your analysis, according to which 2016 was an annus horribilis for human rights. Like many colleagues in the Chamber, I work for human rights and for liberties as a Member of Parliament and I am repulsed by attacks on the media, on migrants and on human rights, and by hate speech, hateful acts and the rise thereof. Your role is essential in the Council of Europe. What should we do to raise awareness and awaken consciences in our national parliaments? You would think that it could be business as usual for human rights but unfortunately that is far from being the case.
Mr MUIŽNIEKS – I urge you to convey to your colleagues not only the seriousness of the backsliding in a number of countries and the discussions in the Assembly about those countries, but the attacks, both direct and indirect, on the European human rights system. On the issue of hate and intolerance, parliamentarians can take an active role in the #NoHateNoFear campaign and try to convey to people why this issue is so important and why it is so important to live together in peace and with respect for diversity. Respecting the dignity of all persons is essential for social cohesion and democracy.
I would like parliamentarians to take a more active role in discussing and distributing the country work of the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance. When I was a member and chairman of ECRI, I often found it very difficult to get parliamentarians engaged with and interested in ECRI’s work. With the growing diversity of European societies and of migration, that work has become all the more relevant. I hope that you in the Assembly will take a leading role in educating people about ECRI’s work and its findings about your countries in particular.
Mr GONCHARENKO (Ukraine, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group)* – I thank you for all your work, Commissioner. What is your assessment of the human rights situation in Crimea, which has been illegally occupied by Russia? What can we do to improve the situation in Crimea?
Mr MUIŽNIEKS – I continue to monitor developments in Crimea with grave concern. I was there in September 2014 and published a report on issues such as media freedom, citizenship, and pressures on human rights defenders, Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainian minority community versus lack of effective investigations into disappearances and politically motivated killings. All those concerns remain topical, and the repression of Crimean Tatars in particular receives quite a bit of attention from my office. The Mejlis of the Crimean Tatars being termed an extremist organisation had far-reaching consequences for many Crimean Tatars living on the peninsula.
I am reflecting on how to follow up my 2014 mission report, because many of the same concerns remain topical. Last month in Ukraine I met NGOs, IDPs – internally displaced persons – and government officials to receive an update. I am hoping that Parliamentary Assembly rapporteurs, the monitoring mechanism and others, including me, will be able to go there and do work. We have to keep trying even if we have not been particularly successful so far. We have no option but to use the tools at our disposal. We have to be persistent in trying to get access to the peninsula and doing our work there.
Ms BRASSEUR (Luxembourg, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – I thank you and congratulate you on your excellent work. You are our voice. We as politicians are far too often very diplomatic about addressing issues but, as you rightly said, the situation is deteriorating. Fortunately, the Council of Europe has your voice, because you have always been vocal. You have been vocal about defending the human rights of the most vulnerable, the Roma people, and you are also the voice outside the Council of Europe. I will not ask you a question, but will say that I really regret that you can no longer stand for a second mandate. We made the right choice, although you are criticised for being too vocal, or being someone’s puppet. You can be proud of that. I thank you for the co-operation we enjoyed when I was President of this Assembly. Thank you very much, Commissioner – thank you very much, dear Nils.
Mr MUIŽNIEKS – I think it is a very good thing that my mandate is not renewable, because I can be independent until its very end. I do not have to think about re-election; I might have to think about what I am going to do after my six years as Commissioner. It is a wise step. The framers of the mandate did a very good thing in having only one six-year mandate: that is long enough so that you can think in the long term, but you also need fresh blood and a fresh view. It is very good that the mandate is not renewable, because I can be a principled voice for human rights until the very last day. That is a very wise thing.
Afterwards, it will be time for someone else, and it is incumbent on the Assembly to think very hard about the next person whom you want in this office, to talk with potential candidates over the next year and to get good people to run. I very much look forward to having many strong human rights candidates competing for this job. I think it needs it. It is an important job and it is important to have good people in it in the future. For the time being, however, I am here for another year, so you will have to contend with me.
Ms KAVVADIA (Greece, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – Commissioner, I thank you for all your efforts and I congratulate you on doing an excellent job.
It is clear from your report that the European response to the refugee crisis is totally inadequate. If, therefore, your office is truly unable to deal with this humanitarian crisis in a manner compatible with our values, is the principle of pacta sunt servanda applicable in such situations, or can we easily set it aside for humanitarian issues that certain European countries find politically troublesome? How credible can Europe be as a champion of human rights issues when it cannot live up to its own principles?
Mr MUIŽNIEKS – The right to asylum is at the core of the foundation of the European and global human rights system. We have failed many people who are suffering, in need and looking for a safe refuge. European co-operation has been completely inadequate. The Mediterranean Sea is not an Italian sea; we cannot expect the Italian navy, even with others, to save everyone in the sea and to have them disembark in Italy. Greece cannot be the only frontline country to which all people are returned once they enter the European Union. That is not sustainable or just. The numbers were clearly challenging last year, but they are much less so this year, and we can do much better. That is why we have to make the relocation system work and why we have to make the long-term integration of refugees work – if not, they will move and we will have secondary movements throughout Europe, creating huge problems for our societies down the road. I therefore urge everyone to take an active interest in the issue, because if this does not work it will tear our societies apart, as well as putting unsustainable burdens on frontline countries such as Greece and Italy.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you. We will now continue with the list of speakers, taking three questions and then giving the Commissioner the opportunity to give answers.
Ms BLONDIN (France)* – Yesterday we talked about the arrest, persecution, torture and assassinations perpetrated against LGBT – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender – people in Chechnya. That trampled over all sorts of human rights. It is either exile or death for LGBT people there. What are you planning to do with regard to the Russian authorities to put a stop to such unacceptable practices, which illustrate the persistence of State-sponsored homophobia?
Mr SCHWABE (Germany)* – I, too, take the opportunity to thank you for your excellent work, Commissioner. At the time I gave my vote to a different candidate, but you were the right choice – I can see that now. On NGOs, we have had quite a debate about the role of NGOs in our different countries. We have different assessments – look at Hungary, for example. Do you see a difference between NGOs that are financed by governments and are active on behalf of governments, and other NGOs that might be financed in different ways, whether from private or government sources? What impact does that have on how we deal with human rights? Will you tell us a little about your definition of how you would distinguish between the two?
Mr GUTIÉRREZ (Spain)* – The economic crisis has led to a loss of social rights in the administration of justice. Many people have been left without a legal defence. In 2012 you proposed that the Council of Europe represent members in the administration of justice, rather than many vulnerable people having to represent themselves before the courts, especially women? What have the results of that been? What are the consequences? How have your proposals been accepted by countries?
Mr MUIŽNIEKS – First, on Chechnya, I have received credible reports of many of the things that were mentioned – abductions, torture and several deaths of LGBTI persons. I see those reports as being incredibly serious. My office reacted immediately to them and contacted the presidential human rights council and the ombudsman, then I sent a letter to the Russian Federation’s investigative committee containing a series of pointed questions and asking for a reply. That reply is still pending. This week I met a journalist and activists, who provided additional information.
These allegations should be treated with the utmost seriousness. If they turn out to be true – they seem very credible to me – they will represent massive human rights violations of the most serious kind. We need a vigorous institutional response from the whole Organisation, and I am ready to do my part. One way in which a number of member States could step forward is in considering granting asylum to people fleeing the situation. I know that granting asylum is not very popular these days, but these people need protection and a safe environment. They will clearly not receive safety in Chechnya.
I have addressed the question of NGOs in a number of different contexts, including whether it is legitimate to impose special restrictions and additional requirements on foreign funding of NGOs. I have sharply criticised the Russian foreign agent law as being incompatible with the Convention, and many of my concerns were borne out in the arbitrary application of the law. I am just finishing an analysis of new Hungarian draft legislation, and I will convey my concerns to the Hungarian authorities shortly.
There should be no difference in NGOs’ ability to receive foreign, domestic, government and private funding. All sources of funding should be legitimate, and there should not be undue burdens and administrative requirements on NGOs receiving such funding. Of course, all NGOs are subject to the same reporting requirements – they all report their finances to ministries of finance and justice. The key is not to stigmatise NGOs receiving foreign funding. National governments often give no money to controversial political and human rights causes, and they starve advocacy NGOs of funding. Those NGOs therefore have nowhere to go when they are looking for funding other than to international donors, and they should not be punished for doing so. I am critical of initiatives that punish that activity, which are not legitimate or in line with Council of Europe standards.
The economic crisis was mentioned. It continues to take a toll across Europe, as I have seen in a number of countries, most recently Slovenia. My sense is that the acuteness of the challenge has declined in the past couple of years. At the peak of the crisis legal aid budgets were slashed, so many vulnerable groups – people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, Roma and others – could not get free legal aid in their countries. Moreover, judicial fees were hiked, sometimes in an effort to make the judiciary pay for itself. That made going to court and getting justice much more difficult for victims of human rights violations. There were also cuts in the budgets and operations of national human rights structures and ombudsmen – the low-threshold bodies to which many victims of human rights violations turn first.
My sense is that that early wave of cuts has stopped, and that countries are slowly rebuilding their legal aid budgets and the budgets of courts and national human rights structures. That is a good thing, which we need very much right now.
Mr CORLĂŢEAN (Romania)* – I, too, would like to express my appreciation of the quality of your work and that of your team. I share the thoughts that you have voiced about the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, and in the context of the annual activity report I appreciate its important work on the fight against racism, intolerance and anti-Semitism.
We need to consider the consequences of Brexit for human rights – there have been problems in that respect for Romanians who are working or studying in the United Kingdom – and the need for consultation on the issue of the expansion of Roma families, but today I want to underline the need for solid democratic oversight of intelligence services in member States. That is an important issue in Romania. The activities of parliamentary inquiry committees are important in that respect – I believe you encourage that work, so perhaps you will comment on it.
Mr Rafael HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – Unpleasant information has recently emerged about the illegal activities of certain persons representing various bodies of the Council of Europe. One such report, which is full of facts, unfortunately relates to your relationship with a secret Armenian network. I say this in a friendly manner, because I wish you to be cautious in your relationships.
My question for today is different, though. Dilgam Askerov, an Azerbaijani man arrested when visiting his parents’ grave in the Armenian-occupied district of Kalbajar, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the unlawful court of the separatist regime of Nagorno-Karabakh, and he is now being exposed to torture. In your capacity as the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, which mechanisms can you apply to secure the release of Dilgam Askerov from his unlawful arrest?
Mr GHILETCHI (Republic of Moldova) – I, too, appreciate your continued efforts to promote and defend human rights, but obviously there are areas in which we disagree. In your report, you refer to “criticism of the so-called ‘gender ideology’ and ‘gender theory’ among both religious and secular stakeholders.” Do you not think that ideology could be a real concern for parents who wish to exercise their right to be the first educators of their children according to article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children”?
Mr MUIŽNIEKS – I will start with the last question, about so-called “gender ideology” and “gender theory”. A lot of misconceptions and misinformation about the word “gender” are being bandied about in many countries in Europe. It is often invoked when people want to oppose the ratification of the Istanbul Convention, which is the gold standard and the state of the art in combating domestic violence. I have stressed that it is not theories of gender that destroy families, it is violence, and the Istanbul Convention is the best tool to combat violence.
Of course parents have the right to educate their children in line with their philosophical and religious beliefs, but children also have rights, including the right to receive objective, age-appropriate information on all manner of things, one of which is sexuality, including homosexuality. It is in their interest to be informed and educated in a scientific manner, and not to be subject to a different ideology. I do not believe that we should put parental rights in confrontation with the rights of children – we need to find a balance.
Our colleague from Azerbaijan mentioned a piece in which I am called “Mr X” – I read it with great interest. I do not know the authors, and they have not spoken to me; if they had there would not have been so many errors. I do not know the sources of their funding. The piece says that I have participated in side events to which I was invited, and I must admit, I have participated in side events organised in the Assembly – five in five years. Three of those were on Azerbaijan, one on Islamophobia and the other on east Ukraine.
Why did I participate in side events on Azerbaijan? I did so because the deteriorating human rights situation there required it. Azerbaijan is the only Council of Europe country where most of my human rights defender partners were in prison on trumped-up charges at one point. The fact that the charges were trumped up in at least two cases has been confirmed by the European Court of Human Rights, which found in the cases of Ilgar Mammadov and Rasul Jafarov that the authorities had placed them in detention and convicted them to silence them, not because they had committed crimes. That is why I focused on Azerbaijan – because of the human rights issues there. I think anybody in my position would do the same. You do not have to be part of a lobby to do that. I am part of the human rights lobby, but not part of any other lobby.
Regarding the person who was captured during the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, I have been repeatedly asked by both sides – Armenians and Azerbaijanis – to play some kind of a role in this process. To be honest, it is beyond my mandate to arrange prisoner exchanges and to look at the front-line conflict there. I have urged, as has the Secretary General, the rapid exchange of prisoners, the return of all remains and the treatment of all prisoners in a humane manner, in line with international humanitarian law.
On Brexit and democratic oversight, Brexit reinforces a point I made in response to the question from Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ on the role of parliamentarians. Brexit shows that words matter. The debate leading up to Brexit was toxic about migration and refugee policy, and that toxic debate laid the groundwork for intolerant action, hate speech and hate crimes against people, which shows that we all must be very careful in the words we use. The United Kingdom is not unique in this. We have many electoral campaigns going on this year, which underscores the need to be very responsible in how we portray different groups, integration, immigration and refugees.
On democratic oversight of security services, I completely agree with you. We put out an issue paper last year on standards and good practice in this realm. Almost every country I have looked at I have found to be wanting on this issue. You need stronger oversight of security services, especially in a context where you are giving them more powers and resources, and technology is developing very rapidly. Often, they are doing things because they can. We have to keep an eye on our security services. They play a very important role and we need them, but we need parliamentarians to keep an eye on them, and we need the judiciary to keep an eye on them to make sure that our human rights are not violated in the struggle against terrorism.
Mr CSENGER-ZALÁN (Hungary) – Mr Commissioner, Hungary has managed the migration crisis by protecting its external borders and the Schengen area, and by fully respecting our obligations. The Hungarian Parliament has recently amended certain Acts relating to border management. You have widely criticised these amendments, stating that the new law is not compatible with the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights. How would you assess whether the relevant European Union legislation and the Convention were not in line with or contradicted each other?
The PRESIDENT – Mr Kandemir is not here, so I call Mr Herkel.
Mr HERKEL (Estonia) – Mr Muižnieks, thank you for the work you have done. Yesterday, we discussed the report on the human rights situation in North Caucasus during the past seven years. Our rapporteur had some difficulties with the fact-finding mission. Did you have similar difficulties? How do you assess the general situation in the North Caucasus? You have already spoken about Chechnya. How do you assess the co-operation of local NGOs with Memorial and other partners?
Ms CHRISTOFFERSEN (Norway) – Mr Commissioner, the Norwegian Parliament is processing a Bill to ensure that our social security systems do not seem more favourable to refugees than those of other countries. In a previous speech, you emphasised that the driving force behind the present refugee crisis is push, not pull. Is this still your opinion, and do you think that benefit reductions are an effective means of preventing a disproportionately high number of people from applying for asylum in our country?
Mr MUIŽNIEKS – I will start with the last question. I still think that the primary factors are push factors. People are looking for safety, to rejoin their families; they are not necessarily attracted by high or even moderate benefits. Benefit reduction carries a huge risk that these people will be left in destitution, unable to make their way for themselves and marginalised, thereby reinforcing the social divisions we are seeing as the result of migration. The misleading argument that you often hear is, “What about our pensioners? They are barely surviving on the pensions they get.” It should be remembered that refugees are often in a much worse situation than pensioners. They have no property or social networks. They do not know the language or how the system works. So they need help in getting on their feet, and if we give them that help, they will contribute to the system and pay taxes in short order. Cutting their benefits to the bare minimum will not contribute to that goal.
The situation in North Caucasus is alarming not only for LGBTI rights, but for human rights defenders, media freedom, gender equality and other issues. Last year I participated as a third party in the Natalia Estemirova case – the famous human rights defender who was killed in the North Caucasus. The situation remains largely the same. The environment for human rights defenders in the North Caucasus is a very difficult one to work in. There are huge pressures and smear campaigns, and a number of attacks against human rights defenders and journalists took place last year, during the very week that I published my third-party intervention, highlighting the systemic nature of the problems in the North Caucasus.
There are nuances between different North Caucasus republics. There was an attack on the joint mobile group that moves in and out of the North Caucasus looking at serious human rights violations in places of detention, and as I recall, the Ingushetian authorities were much more forthcoming than the Chechen authorities and others. So there are nuances that should be kept in mind. We should not always paint with a broad brush. But in general, it is a very difficult environment in which to do human rights work. I had hoped to go to the North Caucasus myself to do human rights work but I have not been able to because, as you probably noted from my annual report, I had to cancel a trip to Russia last year because of the conditions put on my visit.
I have been a big critic of Hungary’s migration policy. Organising government campaigns that spread misinformation and negative stereotypes about migrants is unacceptable: governments should not do this. This is what the Hungarian authorities have done over the last two years. Most alarmingly, in the last couple of months they have overseen the quasi-systematic detention of new arrivals at the border. This is not in line with European human rights standards. Detaining a child is never in that child’s best interest – never – whether alone or with a family. This should not be taking place, ever. Detaining people without a very good reason, just because they arrived irregularly, also is not in line with the European Convention on Human Rights. There should be a good reason for detaining somebody. There are other, less intrusive ways of making sure that they do not abscond, that they show up for hearings, and of ascertaining their identity: you do not need to put them in jail. This is why I have been critical. I have criticised the European Union for not enforcing its own rules on migration and in other fields. So the fact that the European Union is not enforcing its rules with member States is not an argument, for me. All member States of the Council of Europe are bound by Council of Europe standards and the case law of the Court and other standards. Far too often, we are not living up to those standards.
Mr SILVA (Portugal) – Commissioner, in your report you raise the question of social segregation of people with disabilities. In particular, you express concerns about the persistently high rates of institutionalisation of children with disabilities. We all should recognise that the institutionalisation of children just because they are disabled is unacceptable. I have two questions. First, what is your strategy, as Commissioner for Human Rights, for promoting the full social integration of children with disabilities? Secondly, do you think that the Council of Europe’s disability strategy for 2017 to 2023 sets out the right instruments for promoting the integration of children with disabilities?
Ms HUOVINEN (Finland) – I, too, thank you for your excellent work, Commissioner. Over the past few years, many children have arrived in Europe alone, without adult protection and care, which leaves them very vulnerable. Many have lost loved ones in their home countries or on the journey to Europe, and many have even been subjected to exploitation and violence. How well do you think member States are currently doing in identifying traumatised children, and how better can they help them in future?
Mr Vusal HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – Dear Commissioner, in response to a question from my colleague, you said that you took part in events relating to Azerbaijan because your job required it. I will give you another example. One month ago there was a shocking case in Armenia in which a human rights defender passed away after being on hunger strike for 25 days. There was a protest in Armenia and numerous human rights organisations made statements, but I have seen no reaction from your side. Given the gravity of this case, and especially in the light of the noted report, do you think that there should be certain criteria for your interventions, because in one case you intervene and in another you do not? If that example had been from Azerbaijan, I cannot think that you would not have intervened.
Mr MUIŽNIEKS – Let me start with that last question. The human rights situation in Azerbaijan is quite serious. In addition to my own interventions on the topic, I can point to the work of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, who is also paying special attention to Azerbaijan by launching an Article 52 inquiry on why certain judgments, including that on releasing Ilgar Mammadov, have not been implemented. This is a very rare procedure that is used only in the most serious cases. So I submit that Azerbaijan is a special case that requires special attention from me, the Secretary General, the Court and others. If you are interested in my work on Armenia, I visited Armenia a year and a half ago and published a report on that country. I have expressed myself on Armenia numerous times, and all of that is publicly available on my website. I have found human rights shortcomings in Armenia, as I have in many other countries. But I submit that the situation in Azerbaijan requires special attention, which is why I have given it special attention.
With regard to children on the move, I was asked how well I think we are doing in identifying traumatised children. I do not think we have done that very well. I think that we have done very poorly in identifying traumatised people in general. One deficit that I have noticed in many countries is the lack of appropriate mental healthcare and the shortage of mental healthcare specialists who can identify people and provide the support and services they need. There is some great work being done, both by volunteers and by government-mandated services, but it is inadequate. My own observations, and those of experts I have talked to, suggest that the vast majority of people who have been on the move for a while are traumatised. There is a huge need for mental healthcare, especially for children, many of whom have been abused and exploited along the way. Those children will be traumatised for life if we do not address their mental health problems and given them support now.
With regard to the social segregation of children with disabilities, I completely agree that this is a serious human rights issue. I have tried to address it in numerous country visits. I use as my prism not only the Council of Europe’s disability strategy, which I think is good – it highlights the most important elements that need to be taken into account – but the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. What have I found and what have I stressed everywhere? I have found that institutions are bad for children and adults with disabilities. Why? First, the history of human rights abuses, ill-treatment, neglect and sexual abuse in institutions is very well documented in the case law of the European Court, in the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and elsewhere. Secondly, if we are talking about inclusion, the only way in which we can promote the inclusion of people with disabilities is by getting them involved and participating as equal members of society, living in the community, not in a building in the middle of the forest, however new and well-equipped it might be. It is in their interests to be as independent as possible and to live alongside people without disabilities.
The first step in de-institutionalisation is to stop putting people in institutions, because once you put someone in an institution, whether they are a child or an adult, they lose their autonomy, their decision-making skills and their belief in their ability to live independently: give them the support they need in the community so that they can live outside institutions, prosper, thrive and participate. The second step is to be ambitious. Right now is a unique time for 27 member States of the Council of Europe, because they have access to European Union money. There are very large amounts of money available in the European Union for de-institutionalisation – I think that candidate countries can also take advantage of some of that money – to get people out of institutions, create community services and help these people live lives that are as independent as possible. That is the only way forward.
We have had institutions for far too long, and it is depressing. If you have not been to an institution for people with disabilities, whether children or adults, I recommend that you go to one and imagine what kind of support the people living there would need to have a decent life outside, to participate, to go to school and to work. It is mission-possible, and we should all be far more ambitious in this realm than we are. The problem is that there are huge vested interests in institutions. Local politicians are afraid that they will lose votes, and people are afraid that they will lose jobs, and that budgetary money will go elsewhere. We have to address those risks, as well as the fears of parents and relatives that the burden will all be on them. We need to provide adequate support at the local level to make de-institutionalisation work.
Ms DURRIEU (France)* – I salute our Israeli friends, who are sitting here, and our Palestinian friends, who have Partner for Democracy status. We have been unable to establish peace over the past 60 years. Israel has just legalised the construction of settlements on private land on the west bank. What do you think of that, Commissioner? Thank you very much for the exceptional work that you have done.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Kross is not here, so I call Mr Kürkçü.
Mr KÜRKÇÜ (Turkey) – Dear Commissioner, I would like to express my appreciation for all your efforts to safeguard human rights across the member States of the Council of Europe, including Turkey. However, as the Parliamentary Assembly’s resolution yesterday extensively displays, human rights violations during the two years between your first and last reports on Turkey extended unprecedentedly in that country. Can you comment on why, despite your reports, the Council of Europe has failed to prevent a member State from falling back in human rights standards?
Ms CHRISTODOULOPOULOU (Greece)* – Commissioner, are you worried about the attitude of European governments with regard to no longer applying the Schengen treaty, on the grounds that there are so many refugees now, that they are responsible for terrorist attacks and that they are therefore restricting European liberty? What is your attitude to that?
Mr MUIŽNIEKS – I am not a specialist on Israel; it is beyond the territory of my mandate, and it would be overly bold of me to comment on the human rights situation. I am interested in it and would love to receive more information, but I have enough work in the 47 member States of the Council of Europe to keep me busy.
Why have we not made progress on Turkey? It is fundamentally a question of political will, because experience shows that we could make progress with Turkey, in co-operation with the Turkish authorities and with the Turkish judiciary and civil society. We could help the Turkish authorities to curb ill treatment and torture in places of detention. That was a widespread problem before, and together with the Council of Europe we did a lot to address it. Until a couple of years ago we did a lot to help the Turkish authorities strengthen the judiciary’s independence, to improve its jurisprudence on freedom of expression and media freedom. The constitutional court and its jurisprudence on freedom of expression is a good example of that. However, we have seen a deterioration in the past couple of years and a growing intolerance of dissent and criticism. That has affected not only opposition politicians but the more than 150 journalists who are behind bars, and the 150 media outlets that have been liquidated without judicial proceedings. That intolerance of dissent and criticism is the most corrosive thing to human rights because it seeps into all areas of life. If you disagree with the powers that be as a judge, police officer or so on, you risk falling afoul of them and having your human rights violated.
I remain convinced that we need to work with Turkish civil society. We cannot turn our backs on the many human rights defenders and opposition politicians who are looking to the Council of Europe from their jail cells, or on the journalists and the many human rights-oriented academics who have been unjustly fired, dismissed or repressed for peacefully expressing their views. All those people need our support and help. They do not want us to fight their battles for them. They want us to be a voice of principle and to give them political and legal ammunition to fight the battle within Turkey. That is what we need to do.
There was a question on Schengen. I am the biggest fan of Schengen because I travel almost every week. When new restrictions are placed on the border in Kehl, I feel it immediately. We have taken the freedom of movement within the Schengen zone for granted for a long time and will be pained to learn what going back to a previous system of border checks means. I am concerned that terrorism is often invoked for restrictions on migration and restrictions within the European Union between different Schengen countries. I think that is misguided. The vast majority of terrorist attacks have been by home-grown nationals of the countries in which they live, not by new arrivals. The terrorists are already in Europe; they are not arriving from outside Europe. We have to look to our own. We have to look to radicalisation, social exclusion and what is going in our prisons, and we have to do a better job of countering terrorism in our own countries, as well as addressing its root causes abroad. I am concerned about these moves because they will restrict freedom of movement unnecessarily, and often the reasons that are invoked for them are misguided, point in the wrong direction and are, in my view, unjustified.
The PRESIDENT – The schedule allows us to have a final three questions. I call Ms Chugoshvili.
Ms CHUGOSHVILI (Georgia) – Thank you, Mr Muižnieks, for the very good report. We always carefully study your report and have already passed a number of laws in parliament to respond to its recommendations regarding Georgia. My question is on the so-called black holes in Europe, including Georgia’s occupied territories, where it is very difficult to conduct human rights monitoring. What is your strategy? How would you handle the difficult challenge of conducting human rights monitoring in those territories?
Mr SABELLA (Palestine, Partner for Democracy) – I have one short question. I realise that your mandate does not cover Partners for Democracy or Observer States. Is it possible to examine whether the mandate can be extended? I ask because there is a perception in the Middle East and elsewhere that Europe sometimes has double standards. The more Europe does to reduce that misperception, the better it will be for international relations.
Mr HONKONEN (Finland) – Tomorrow, in this Chamber, we will discuss the situation in Hungary, where there is an aim to push forward so-called transparency legislation, which, as we have heard, would threaten the activity of NGOs. There have also been violent attacks in Budapest against activists who support freedom of association. What should be done practically on that situation?
Mr MUIŽNIEKS – On human rights monitoring in grey zones, I have, to the extent that it has been possible, done a little bit. I visited Donetsk in eastern Ukraine twice and did human rights monitoring there. It was not the same kind of human rights monitoring that I have been able to do elsewhere – I saw what I was allowed to see. Real human rights monitoring means I have access everywhere, can talk to people confidentially about human rights concerns and can meet NGOs. The problem in many areas, including eastern Ukraine now, is that there are no, or very few, NGOs gathering information and no independent media outlets. Those are fundamental sources of information for human rights monitors.
As I mentioned, I visited Crimea and would like to go back. I sought to go to Abkhazia and South Ossetia a little over a year ago, but that was not possible. I made the relevant inquiries and wanted to go there to do work, but it did not turn out to be possible at the time. I hope, when I go to Moldova in, I think, October, to touch base in Transnistria. For all those places, the worst thing that can happen is that they remain isolated from broader European trends and human rights monitoring, because that is when human rights problems fester and suffering grows.
Should and can my mandate be expanded to include other countries? I think the mandate is very good the way it is. I am afraid of what the final outcome would be if the mandate was open for discussion. It is a strong mandate right now. That does not necessarily prevent me or the Council of Europe from visiting a partner country, meeting colleagues from the human rights field and sharing experience. I would welcome such an exchange with colleagues in partner countries. As I said, I have not yet done full country visits to all the member States of the Council of Europe and think they deserve my priority attention, although I would also very much like to go to partner counties to meet colleagues and work on issues.
Regarding Hungary, I, too, have been following with concern the rhetoric and the proposed legislation regarding NGOs. I have prepared my own comments on that legislation and will shortly convey them to the Hungarian authorities. I will also shortly make those public, so I hope that can feed into discussions on the issue. What is going on at the Central European University is also of concern to me. I know many people who have finished that excellent higher education institution. This brings us to the issue of academic freedom, which has not been addressed as systematically and forcefully as it should be.
I will devote the conclusion of my forthcoming first quarterly report to the issue of academic freedom and threats against it; that is what the discussion about Central European University appears to revolve around. I hope that my work on Hungary’s legislation on non-governmental organisations will be useful for the Hungarian authorities and others who take an interest in the issue.
The PRESIDENT – We must now conclude the questions to Mr Muižnieks. I thank him most warmly on behalf of the Assembly for his presentation and his answers.
(Sir Roger Gale, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Ms Schou.)
3. European values under threat: addressing rising xenophobia, antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe
The PRESIDENT – The next item of business this afternoon is the current affairs debate on “European values under threat: addressing rising xenophobia, antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe”. I remind colleagues that speaking time is limited to three minutes. In the absence of Mr Küçükcan, I call first Ms de Sutter.
Ms de SUTTER (Belgium, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group) – I very much welcome this debate, because it allows us – the Assembly of the most powerful human rights institution in the world – to state a few things clearly. The Pew Research Centre found that Muslims faced hostility, including hate speech, vandalism and physical assaults, in 71% of European countries in 2015. In the same year, Jews faced the same hostility in 73% of European countries. For both groups, these figures are rising annually. The wave of terrorist attacks all over the world in the name of Islam has caused many Europeans to believe that we are at war with the Islamic faith and with all people who adhere to it. This belief shakes the foundations of the universal human rights system, which is founded on the principles of mutual respect and dignity for all human beings around the globe.
It does not matter if we are Christians, Buddhists, secular, Jews, Muslims or any combination of these; if we stick to the false belief that it is “us” against “the others”, we will end up at war with our own principles, and at war with our European identity, which is, and must be, fundamentally humanist and inclusive. Let me state very clearly on behalf of the Socialist Group that we are not at war with people who adhere to a different religion, or have a different nationality or skin colour. We should rather be at war with falsehoods, because these prevent people from seeing the world in a nuanced way, which drives them to blind hatred and political extremism in all possible forms and on all sides. We must be at war with poverty, inequality and the economic crisis, because these diminish people’s hope for a better future and cause anger towards anybody who is different.
UNICEF Innocenti launched #ChildrenOfAusterity this month, getting to the heart of the problem; the institute’s new research shows that families with children and youngsters were hit harder than any other social group by the economic crisis in Europe. Not only is there more poverty in this group, but the severity of that poverty is the worst that we have seen in decades on this continent. Poverty is linked to a lack of education and ignorance, which in turn leads to electoral turmoil, terrorism, discrimination, conflict and violence.
Let us not forget that we are at war with climate change, too. The long drought of 2006 to 2010 was among the factors that helped to ignite the Arab Spring. Misery and hunger pave the way for terrorist rebels such as Daesh, leaving their regions, and ours, with the disastrous political instability that we now have to deal with. Colleagues, I am telling you this because I hope that you see what I see: that we have to change the story and the enemy, and that we have to stand for all if we do not want to stand for nothing.
Mr HOWELL (United Kingdom, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – I want to deal with anti-Semitism and Islamophobia as two examples of a spirit of hate that pervades society. Let me turn first to anti-Semitism. There has been serious concern about the safety of the Jewish population across Europe in recent years, especially after a series of terror attacks that specifically targeted Jewish communities in France and Belgium. Anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom reached unprecedented levels in 2016, after a 36% rise on the number of incidents in the previous year. Just over 1 309 incidents were reported in 2016 – the highest number on record.
The United Kingdom has adopted a broad definition of anti-Semitism drawn up by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, an intergovernmental organisation backed by 31 countries, in a ground-breaking step towards eradicating anti-Semitism. The definition provides examples of the ways in which anti-Semitism manifests. The definition will be used by police, councils, universities and other public bodies. Guidelines on the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism are universally understood and need to be acted on at all times, including by universities.
There needs to be a zero tolerance policy against anti-Semitism. In the United Kingdom, this involves a commitment of more than £13 million for security measures for the Jewish community, to safeguard all Jewish schools, colleges, nurseries, and synagogues, so that we can rid this scourge of hatred from the soul of our country. The first step in defeating anti-Semitism is to define it clearly, so that we remove any doubt about what is unacceptable, and so that no one can plead ignorance or hide behind any kind of excuse.
Two political parties in the United Kingdom have members who have been accused of anti-Semitism, including the Liberal Democrats. I call on them to take a firm stand on this issue. Political parties have to set an example. In the case of Islamophobia, I stress that there is a great role for faith groups in taking this argument forward and dealing with the issue. They may be able to bring about a great deal of calm and tolerance in the current situation.
What stuck with me after the dreadful terror attack on Parliament was not the attack itself, but the group of Imams who got together to say that this terror does not belong to Islam. That made a big impression on me. We need to recognise that communities are not simply blocks of people with the same views. I have worked with Ahmadi Muslims, who are an extremely peaceful group. More education is required; we see the importance of that in Holocaust memorial events, and we need to see it in dealing with this issue across the world.
Ms RODRÍGUEZ HERNÁNDEZ (Spain, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)* – We would like to speak about the role played by politicians, and their responsibilities regarding their vision and the hatred that we see in society. There are various populist movements on both sides of the Atlantic, and, looking at them, they do not seem very different. We even have one here in France; look at the electoral campaigns of Le Pen and Mélenchon and you will find that there are a lot of similarities and much common ground. It is important for us to bear in mind that these movements are looking for a schism. They want to make sure that people do not feel that they belong – to Europe, their country, or society – and that people want to break with that.
These movements have something else in common: there is always an enemy, a guilty party, and they try to polarise society against that enemy. They end up destroying society. We have seen this in different parties in different countries, and it has led to a breakdown in many countries. Look at Brexit in the United Kingdom, at how public opinion is divided there now, and at the whole issue of how people there view the European Union. We have an opportunity to speak out about the values that we want for our countries and for Europe and about how we intend to work on them to ensure that they become a reality. We do not need strident populist discourse; we need unity and to find solutions to the problems. Of course citizens have problems, but let us solve those problems, not create more. We liberals have clear feelings about that. We need to defend our values, but we do not want movements that polarise societies. We want open societies and co-existence. We want to ensure that people of different faiths and in different situations can live together in our societies.
It has been proven that radical, populist and nationalist movements create xenophobia and racism and go against the rights of individuals. We need to change. We need to move towards a more dignified form of politics. I am not talking about the right and the left here; I mean radical and populist movements. That is what we are trying to act against. We want common sense and common values. We want value-based policies. We want to guarantee the equality of all our citizens, and we are committed to that. We believe that Europe needs to win. It needs to overcome all these radical movements. We have to do that through our actions, not just discourse and words, which are not enough, as shown by how various countries have fared with populism. All the countries represented in this Chamber can work on common projects. We need to fight for rights and for equality. We have to be able to defend our citizens and ensure that they are free.
Ms JAKOBSDÓTTIR (Iceland, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left) – Before the current financial crisis, one could say that Europe was heading towards an ideology of migration and pluralism even though that trend existed mostly within its borders. Now we face the fact that the crisis has led to the rise of unemployment and xenophobia and the cruel closing of borders. Some European politicians provide simple reasons, such as blame and hatred, for the social challenges of our time. Whether unemployment, social issues, or the welfare crisis, everything is caused by “foreigners” or “immigrants”. Those simple reasons are nourished by the psychological tendency to be afraid of the unknown and of everything different and exotic. That political discourse over-simplifies the challenges and problems of our time and ignores the obvious fact that the challenges have much deeper roots. What is not being addressed is how inequality has become one of the gravest threats to welfare in rich societies.
It is astounding to see the figures for the share of wealth appropriated by the few and how their wealth accumulates far beyond the growth of the economy. At the same time, middle and lower-income classes face economic stagnation. Common goods are being privatised, creating profits for their new owners and not benefiting the community as a whole. A society of class distinction and inequality now breeds and nourishes politicians who in turn nourish a political discourse in which immigrants are considered to be the root of all problems. The truth is that inequality in society is the real problem and that the less privileged face the same injustices regardless of their nationality.
Yesterday, we discussed the importance of equality for social and economic development. A pluralistic society could be seen as an instrument to build a more equal and more democratic society. The French economist Thomas Piketty pointed out that the European Union now has a population of nearly 510 million, compared with roughly 485 million in 1995. That growth is slow compared with global population growth, especially when we consider that three quarters of Europe’s growth is due to migration. The addition of migrants may provide an opportunity to restart the continent’s economy and to invest in infrastructure, housing, education, and welfare. Pluralism is not only a social and economic opportunity, but essential in a democracy, because democracy revolves around compromises through interactions and dialogue and developing understanding between different opinions and cultures. Xenophobia, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism can only be destructive to a democratic society, but the same applies to the system of inequality now gaining speed in the world. The increased wealth of the few will also eventually destroy democracy as we know it. Let us all strive to preserve our democracy with the fairer distribution of goods and with respect for the great value that a pluralistic society presents to us all.
Ms CENTEMERO (Italy, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party)* – Today, the Greek President, with the wisdom of the civilisation that created democracy, recalled the main value of the Council of Europe: democracy. We are talking about anti-Semitism and xenophobia, but we are forgetting the persecution of Christians. Religious freedom is one of Europe’s fundamental principles, but there is a genuine threat to that freedom. Over the past decade, we have seen how religious freedom has often been compromised across the world – Europe is not an exception – and things are worsening. There has even been open persecution in certain cases, and Christians are increasingly becoming the victims – although they are not the sole victims.
The determining factors for the change can be linked to non-democratic States. Religious freedom is linked to democracy, and Europe seems to be moving against its history. There can be no future for us or for others without the duality of religious freedom and democracy. A secular State is one that is aware of the value of religious references to its citizens and that guarantees the right for all, including Christians, to live according to one’s conscience and religious opinions. Today, in an exhibition about inspiring women, we recalled Queen Theodelinda, who was a symbol of religious freedom and peace. There are problems with the idea of religious freedom that can be limited purely to individual and collective rights and does not take constitutional aspects into account. Religions could therefore become associations.
I will conclude with some figures. According to the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, 1 700 Christians have been persecuted in Europe, and 90 000 were killed globally in 2016. Think of Father Hamel, for example. We should always remember to fight for religious freedom.
The PRESIDENT – Ms Günay is not here, so I call Ms Gosselin-Fleury.
Ms GOSSELIN-FLEURY (France)* – “We are always a foreigner for somebody. Learning to live together is to fight against racism.” Tahar Ben Jelloun wrote those words, but he did not know how resonant they would be in today’s Europe. They remind us that racism is about all of us and that the challenge to our values over the past few years is a danger for every citizen, wherever they come from and whatever their religion. These challenges to our values lead to the building of walls and to anti-immigrant laws. When despair and war push civilians towards Europe, which they see as a haven of peace and freedom, rejecting them is to forget the difference between Europe and other continents, which is our values. We say that we will never again allow the unleashing of hate, so the rise in extremist, right-wing xenophobia in Europe – even in France – is worrying. Challenges to our values mean that sitting on the fence and supporting the idea of an extremist President would be one and the same. We must not exclude or discriminate against people. History has shown that your nationality does not protect you from hate. Jews who were French citizens and war veterans who had been decorated at Verdun were also stripped of all their rights and transported to the camps after the foreign Jews.
Europe has benefited from the mixing of races. Terrorism and the economic crisis should not be pretexts for the rejection of Muslim populations, just as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict should not be a pretext to attack Jewish people. We need to wake up and take action to ensure that xenophobia, racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia do not win the battle of ideas and so that the lights never go out again in Europe. For that to happen, we need to be capable of getting our democratic values across to schoolchildren. But that will not be enough. Extreme ideas, as the political analyst Jean-Yves Camus has said, flourish when three crises coincide – first, a crisis of representation or, in other words, the way in which our institutions function; secondly, a crisis of redistribution or, in other words, a questioning of the fairness of taxes; and, thirdly, a crisis of identity. To defend democracy on our continent, we have to work on all three phenomena, and that is a huge challenge for all of us and especially politicians. It is our duty in Europe. We should not allow member States to lose their way with policies that kill freedom without reacting.
Ms BARTOS (Hungary) – When speaking about European values, the basic idea of the founding fathers – the “unity in diversity” – in establishing the European Union should be recalled. After the horrors of the wars in the 20th century, it has become clear that only reconciliation and common reflection can create peace in Europe. Such recognition is a basic requirement for mutual understanding. Recognition of ourselves and of others is equally important, and training and education are significant elements of this process.
Among all subjects, it is history that contributes most to the development of individuals’ identities, but it is also a crucial factor in establishing respect and trust towards other nations. It is therefore essential to consider fully all aspects when interpreting historical events in teaching history. No people or nation is worse or better than the others: all have contributed to the common values of humanity. In that respect, there is no collective guilt either, and that idea should be eliminated. Regrettably, the Council of Europe has a member State for which this idea forms an integral part of its national legislation, feeding xenophobia.
As I have said, recognition is a prerequisite for mutual understanding. It is widely known that a significant number of Roma live in Hungary. We are committed to the protection of the Roma culture and the Roma community as they do not have a kin-State to defend their interests. It was under the Hungarian European Union presidency that the European Roma framework strategy was adopted, putting forward a comprehensive action plan for European Union member States. Beyond that initiative, Hungary is the first country in the world where the teaching of Roma culture and history is an integral part of the national curriculum.
A sizeable Jewish community also lives in Hungary, and they are valued members of our society. The Jewish Festival helps to bring the Hungarian and Jewish cultures closer and to form a bridge between people. Several Jewish organisations recognise the efforts of the State and consider the country one of the safest from the point of view of the Jewish community.
Reconciliation has made Europe the continent of peace, but the process is successful only if it is based on reciprocity. The people who live here and those who arrive must respect the history, traditions and values of others – the written and unwritten rules of living together. That is how Europe became, and can stay, the continent of peace.
Mr CORLĂŢEAN (Romania) – Addressing the rise of racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in Europe is a topical debate, and it is very good that we are debating this subject today in the Assembly of an Organisation, the Council of Europe, that for a long time has included combating those problems among its highest priorities. From my European experience, which has included being a representative from our Political Affairs Committee to the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, and my national experience in Romania, I emphasise with great concern an aggravated and stronger tendency in the past few years – including in old democracies in Europe – in public attitudes and rhetoric from political leaders and parties of the far right or populist parties, including institutional measures, that generate more xenophobia, racism, and intolerance, a renewed and more sophisticated anti-Semitism and serious confusions that generate Islamophobia.
The political signal that our Assembly should convey today should be very clear. Our Europe is based on fundamental values of tolerance, understanding, mutual acceptance of differences and solidarity – and we should mention solidarity more often. It is also based on a presumed political responsibility for clearly rejecting challenges to those values, even when there is a political temptation to obtain more votes or win legislative or presidential elections in our countries. We have the valuable instruments of the Council of Europe, including the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, our recommendations and country reports, the European Court of Human Rights, the political role of the Committee of Ministers and our Parliamentary Assembly. It is important to consolidate those instruments and to use them properly.
I will mention briefly a positive experience of good practice. Some colleagues have referred to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance, and the Romanian presidency that just finished in March had a good performance on a working definition of anti-Semitism that did not exist before, programmes of training for magistrates and police officers, and other education. It is possible, but it needs a clear political will, and that is what our Assembly stands for.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Gülpinar, Mr Önal and Mr Divina are not here, so I call Mr Elalouf.
Mr ELALOUF (Israel, Observer)* – It is with some considerable emotion that I take the floor for the first time in this Assembly on a subject that, unfortunately, is one that affects my people.
Anti-Semitism, xenophobia and Islamophobia spring from a culture of racism – throughout the world, but in Europe in particular. Today anti-Semitism that springs from that racism, as the French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy said, has an interplanetary dimension. We see it throughout Europe; we are talking about Europe in this debate. Certain expressions targeting Israel are referred to as anti-Semitic, but we need to be more precise: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer the Israeli-Arab conflict thanks to the peace accords between Egypt and Jordan, and in particular an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority about co-existence following the Oslo accords, and that means that the political conflict can under no circumstances be used as a pretext for anti-Semitism.
Anti-Semitism is reported to have declined in some countries in Europe – France, Germany and the United Kingdom in particular – but part of that decline is the result of action taken by governments, including by Israel: the only Jewish country in the world, which abides by the relevant principles. It is important to note that all Israeli citizens enjoy the same rights.
The fight against racism must not be ad hoc or piecemeal. If we want to do something about the migrant situation, we also need to tackle racism. If we want to save whole cultures, such as the Yazidi culture, we also need to tackle racism. The solution to inter-religious killings in the context of Islam involves the fight against racism. Where Jewish communities are under threat, Israel will use the means available to it in the context of respect for international law, fired by a passionate desire to achieve peace in the Middle East.
Ms GAFAROVA (Azerbaijan) – This debate is necessary and timely. In recent years, the opinions voiced by politicians promoting xenophobia and racism in some countries can only have worried us. Across the whole world, including Europe, dozens of innocent people are victims of terrorism. At a time when religious discrimination, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are increasing, these events should be strongly condemned. We believe that the populist approach, which aims to manipulate public opinion, will not find support in the European community. We must not allow such tendencies of public opinion to expand.
Many years of the last century were spent fighting racism and discrimination in Europe, which is the home of us all. Unfortunately, some forces are now attempting to return Europe to the period of misfortune, discrimination and racism. If we do not raise our voices against that today, we will face more serious problems tomorrow. We must not forget our common values of tolerance and democracy. Protecting multiculturalism and inter-cultural dialogue is vital today. The purpose of inter-cultural dialogue should not be to acquire formal, theoretical knowledge of others’ value systems with a view to understanding them only superficially and to organising our co-existence in only practical terms, but to genuinely get to know people who share the same humanity and have a dialogue with people whose human experience can enrich society as a whole. In other words, our approach should not be utilitarian but sincerely personal and friendly.
I am proud that in my country representatives of different nations and religions live together in a peaceful and friendly way. Such attitudes cannot be imposed administratively, as tolerance is a voluntary recognition and respect of everyone’s way of expressing themselves, even if that conflicts with one’s opinion. That is an integral part of our traditional and cultural moral values. The Christian and Jewish communities in Azerbaijan enjoy the same rights as the Muslim population who make up the majority of the population. People have never been mistreated for their religion or ethnicity. The mosque, church and synagogue can co-exist in peace in Azerbaijan. During the years of our independence, the Azerbaijani Government has restored synagogues and churches that were devastated under Soviet rule.
In conclusion, let me emphasise my belief that nowadays the ideal way to promote integration is to achieve peaceful co-existence through the development of cultural and religious tolerance.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Tarczyński and Mr Wilk are not here, so I call Ms Prună.
Ms PRUNĂ (Romania) – Ladies and gentlemen, fellow delegates and parliamentarians, it is a great honour to speak for the first time in this Assembly. I represent Save Romania Union, the newest party elected in the Romanian Parliament. We are an anti-populist, liberal-minded party based on European values and focused on strengthening democracy. As parliamentarians, we of course represent all our citizens, but those who elected me wanted a new way of doing politics. We were voted into parliament as a response to populism, extremism, corruption, incompetence, and “primitive nationalism”, to quote Michnik.
Michnik thought that the fall of communism left a vacuum that was filled by a coarse and primitive nationalism. Primitive nationalism disguised as populism is not a new song for politicians in our region. The difference between the new and old populisms is that the new is more aggressive: instead of promising false hope, it promotes irrational fear and disregards our most basic European, humanist and liberal values. Such populism often uses referendums as a tool of false democratic legitimacy, favouring short-term emotional decisions rather than long-term sustainable policies. It is clear how toxic the new brand of populism can be and we are starting to see its effects around the world. The disgust that citizens feel when they are cheated by false promises of a better life pushes them into frustration that allows for division, fear and hate. That is a significant and very real threat to democracy.
Our mission here and in all European parliaments should be to find a way to create hope based on truly democratic principles and rational and plausible solutions. That, I believe, is the only way to fight for our indispensable European values and principles and to stave off the politics of hate and division. The run-off for the French presidential elections represents that very same division: the new reactionary, hateful populism versus the anti-populist, forward-thinking and pro-European type of reform politics. It is scary to think that four out of 10 voters chose an extremist in a country with the principles of equality, liberty and fraternity at its core. That should be a strong reminder for us all that democracy is not something given, but something we need to fight to improve in order to preserve it.
A peaceful European continent is one where human rights, the rule of law, diversity, unity and solidarity are the main values – where we can be explicit but not exclusive about our differences and where we can inspire people to be better and stronger together. That is possible if we can map out a future built on those values rather than on hate. Ladies and gentlemen, we must reject the temptations of primitive nationalism or promise-based populism and create a sustainable perspective of growth and reform in our way of doing politics. Thank you.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Ms Prună, and congratulations on making your maiden speech in this Chamber.
Mr OLIVER (Canada, Observer) – Thank you for allowing me to address the Assembly on this important matter. It has been said that Canada is a nation of rivers. It has also been said that Canada is a river of nations. In my part of Canada, we live in the most culturally diverse communities in the world. For example, at a recent swearing-in ceremony for new Canadians, we swore in 35 people from 17 different countries representing eight different religious groups.
At home, my wife and her family are refugees from Poland. My wife’s sister married a young man who with his family were refugees from Vietnam. When I sit down for dinner with my wife’s extended family, I am the only non-refugee at the table, yet none of those people thinks of themselves as refugees or immigrants. They think of themselves as Canadians working hard and contributing to our great nation.
In my experience, the only solution to xenophobia, fear and distrust of people who look, speak, dress or pray differently is successful integration. When you work shoulder to shoulder with people from different cultures, building families and businesses, building communities and building a nation, you learn to trust each other, to tolerate differences and, eventually, to celebrate and appreciate the differences that once caused fear.
Canada has built a strong legal framework founded on the same principles as the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects individuals from discrimination and defends freedom of religion. As our Prime Minister has said, diversity is our strength. Yet we are far from a multicultural utopia. Reports of violence against minorities are on the rise. As a parliamentarian, I am deeply concerned about the rise of Canadian political voices that seize on public discontent and populist agendas to promote a form of nationalism that divides society and delegitimises certain groups.
I regretfully observe that despite our best efforts xenophobia remains a reality. A 2014 anti-Semitism audit recorded the highest number of incidents in Canada to date, while Islamophobic incidents spiked in 2015. Last year, swastikas were painted on churches, mosques and synagogues across our capital of Ottawa. However, I would distinguish between the disruptive and criminal acts of the few, and the positive leadership of our government and parliament to facilitate integration. As parliamentarians, we must lead by fostering constructive engagement, developing strategies for inclusive domestic policies and using proven best practices for successful integration. We must focus on education and dialogue to build tolerance among our most grass-roots constituencies.
At home, I take heart from the fact that Canada’s current Parliament is its most diverse in history, with more Muslim, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish and indigenous members than ever before. That can only help in our efforts to build a culture of tolerance.
Mr KIRAL (Ukraine) – Islamophobia, religious intolerance, anti-Semitism and xenophobia are the consequence of years of various smokescreens and scapegoating by those who were delegated to tackle the problems of our times and the problems of ordinary people. We must have proper policies in place to deal with those issues. Most important, we must roll up our sleeves and work on all the root causes, which include globalisation. That led to a major reduction in poverty levels worldwide, according to the United Nations, but it also caused jobs relocation to more cost-effective regions, a reduction in incomes in Europe’s economy and a weakening of the social stability backbone – the middle class.
Migration is another root cause. That is the result of inequality between the developed and developing world, but often it is the result of unresolved wars and conflicts, resolutions on which were not possible; often, they were vetoed by one United Nations Security Council member.
Technological developments and the information era are another root cause. Greater automation has brought more value and better solutions, but caused a drop in the quality of jobs created. Did we respond properly and adapt? We did not. Technology has been behind the astonishing democratisation rate throughout the globe – most States are now considered to be democratic – but did it add up to a sense of security?
Those trends describe our modern age – free money flows across borders, modern-era authoritarian regimes often appeased and not restricted by the more powerful free world, migration, including labour migration, and technology. They pose real challenges to our institutions, whether national or supranational. Our failure to adapt and effectively respond to them has had negative consequences, such as Islamophobia, xenophobia and anti-Semitism. In order to respond to them and effectively fight rising populism in our States, we must call on our governments to introduce the reforms that are necessary, to revisit existing policies and to be creative in introducing new tools to reform institutions to provide better services to people. That should be based on inclusiveness, multicultural dialogue and solidarity, with full respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Mr WOLD (Norway) – European values are being challenged. The Europe we knew until recently has changed, not because Europeans want that, but because we parliamentarians have made that happen. Why do we allow mosques to be built without controlling their activities? Why do we accept radical Muslims gathering in the streets shouting that they want the country to which they have come to be overtaken by Islam and Sharia law?
Europe is becoming more diverse and multicultural than ever. We must admit that that challenges the stability of European societies. All we want is for people to co-exist in societies throughout Europe. Unfortunately, that is not always what happens. We must learn to tolerate each other.
In the northern part of Europe, we are used to well functioning societies. Dialogue is the way. Lately, in Sweden, we have seen street riots, car burnings, parallel societies, and areas that police do not want to enter – so-called no-go areas. You do not have to be an Islamophobe to be scared by less. We all have a responsibility to help people to integrate, but what we do as parliamentarians means nothing if people themselves do not want to be integrated.
Therefore, I urge all people moving to and settling in a new country to integrate and to learn the language, culture and traditions. Give liberty to women, respect freedom of speech and encourage your family to become citizens of a modern and civilised world. What is missing is moderate Muslims speaking up against the radicals. Some do, but not all. It is also odd that a majority of Turkish people living in Norway voted for President Erdoğan to have more powers, when they themselves live in a western civilisation and enjoy freedom of speech.
I must refer to the comments of Ms Rodríguez Hernández, who argued that we should act against the radical and populist groups. That would make integration and co-existence easier – so easy and yet so difficult.
Ms ÆVARSDÓTTIR (Iceland) – Confucius said that, without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more. It is in that spirit that I address this Assembly on the subject of European values under threat and how to address rising xenophobia in Europe.
Many consider rising economic inequality and the recent financial crisis as the core reasons for that dangerous trend. I argue that the problem also stems from the words we use, words that gain even more force when spoken by us as politicians in our respective parliaments, by our civil servants and by governmental representatives in our national, international and supranational institutions and organisations.
I refer specifically to the words we use to describe those who, after a perilous journey over the seas, seek shelter from war and persecution in the relative safety of Europe. We call them migrants because calling them refugees would restrict us in what seems to be a pan-European quest to keep them outside our continent. We call them irregular, or even illegal when they cross our borders without our permission, to justify their forceful removal to the hazardous unknown of their countries of origin. We speak of protecting our borders, as if the persons crossing them are thereby attacking them.
We say that while knowing full well that legal means of entering Europe are illusory if not impossible for most refugees. We say that knowing, or sensing, that those words have force and that using them serves to dehumanise and vilify refugees in the eyes of the public. We do so knowing that our words turn into weapons in the hands of those who use the plight of refugees to foster and further their messages of division, fear and hatred.
Let us recall the origin of the refugee convention, created to protect the rights and lives of the countless numbers of refugees fleeing Europe in the wake of the Second World War. What happens to European values when Europe’s leaders forget our history of devastating European conflict and division, which was the catalyst for our ever increasing union? What happens when our leaders, who should be beacons of tolerance and respect for the human rights of all people, repeatedly dehumanise and mistreat those who seek shelter on our shores? Why would ordinary citizens of Europe respect European values if those who govern them do not?
It is said that actions speak louder than words, but when we withdraw funding for refugee rescue missions at sea so that thousands drown as a result, I would say that so does inaction. When we refuse to acknowledge our own role and responsibility in the conflicts that compel those people to flee their homes, I would say that so does our silence.
Let me conclude with the words of Martin Luther King, Jr: “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Let us therefore not stay silent and inactive but instead employ language and action that foster empathy, cohesion and plurality against the force of words that inspire racism, hostility and xenophobia.
Mr Rafael HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – Why have Europe and the world for many years had to speak of a crisis for the values formed through considerable and consistent effort? Why do those values not function as fluently as they did before? Is there a general way out, or will the crisis gradually deepen?
A solution certainly exists, and it is a universal one that can eliminate most of our problems. Islamophobia has been among the most discussed and disputed issues since the beginning of our new century. If we put aside that phobia and look towards Islam, however, we can get a solution to the problems that worry us from the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of the religion.
A wise story extracted from historical sources is directly relevant to our debates. Someone was telling the Prophet about his numerous bad habits, characterising himself as a thief, slanderer, brawler, liar, miser and ill-wisher, and asking for help in getting rid of those imperfect features. The Prophet Mohammed told the man that there was a way out of his troubles: never to tell a lie. The man protested, saying that the lying was merely one of his defects and what could he do about his other shortcomings? The Prophet said: “If you put an end to telling lies, your other bad features will disappear independently.”
What, then, is the main disease that generates all our troubles, including xenophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, which we should get rid of? The disease is called double standards. All our troubles are generated by that virus: violations of equality and justice, hypocrisy, lies and all discrimination are rooted in it. If we approached every nation and State irrespective of its size, religion, language or origin with the same objectiveness and fairness, the complications that have brought Europe to the verge of moral crisis would be gradually eliminated. Perhaps I am a bit soft when I use the word “crisis”. When the Pope addressed us in the Parliamentary Assembly, he expressed his concern by using more severe language, such as “break-up”.
Double standards are the cancer of the Council of Europe, of other international organisations and of our European home as a whole. That cancer has already been metastasising. The treatment of the disease, however, does not require a doctor from the outside.
The PRESIDENT – That concludes the list of speakers.
At the end of a current affairs debate, the Assembly does not decide on a text, but the matter may be referred by the Bureau to the responsible committee for a report.
(The sitting, suspended at 5.34 p.m., was resumed at 5.37 p.m., with Mr Corlăţean, Vice-President of the Assembly, in the Chair.)
4. 25 years of the CPT: achievements and areas for improvement
The PRESIDENT – The next item of business is the debate on the report “25 years of the CPT: achievements and areas for improvement”, presented by Mr Xuclà on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.
I remind colleagues that speaking time is limited to three minutes.
I call Mr Xuclà, the rapporteur. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.
Mr XUCLÀ (Spain) – I will present my report briefly and I will try to save some time for reactions. I have started speaking in English, but I have remembered that I can speak in Spanish, which I will do. After some hours talking English, it is not easy to shift immediately.
(The speaker continued in Spanish.)
We are talking about 25 years of successful work by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which we know better as the CPT. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has sought to eradicate inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, anything that is an affront to human dignity. With that in mind, we need to continue with an absolute ban and prohibition.
I know we sometimes talk about whether there are absolute rights, or whether all rights are limited by the existence of other rights, or whether only a handful of rights are absolute. This afternoon, we are talking about an absolute prohibition on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment – there is no negotiating on that within the geographical scope of the Council of Europe. At the moment we might wish to look at a specific country that is thinking out loud about the possibility of introducing the death penalty, but in the territory of the Council of Europe there is an absolute ban on torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.
To make that prohibition possible, our institution has an extraordinary tool at its disposal – the CPT. It presented its latest report as recently as last week, which dealt with the year 2016. The committee carried out 10 periodic visits and nine ad hoc visits to member States last year, so there were 19 visits altogether. There were 170 days of CPT work. The CPT’s civil servants were out on the ground in our member States for 170 days of the year, doing their job by inspecting the situation and checking anything to do with torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.
I do not need to outline the CPT’s own report for members, though, because they can download it from the website. Instead, I wish to say a little about the report by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and why we have drafted it. Several members of the committee, particularly Mr Kox, collected signatures because we wanted the Assembly to give some thought to how we can improve CPT’s mechanisms. That is the message that we want to send to our member States and the Committee of Ministers. As members may be aware, the CPT needs more support, and the Assembly needs to send a clear message of support, acknowledgement and recognition. We also need to discuss greater involvement in various areas of the CPT’s work, one of which is how we can ensure that the best candidates are elected to the committee.
The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights had two guiding threads in drafting the report. First, there are various aspects of the CPT’s work that could be improved upon. One example is the language skills that are needed. People on the CPT need to master both official languages of the Council of Europe so that they can do their job properly. Another crucial point was discussed in our previous report on the CPT, and I would like to discuss it again today: greater involvement of the Parliamentary Assembly in the election of the members of the CPT. Members may be aware that that is a tricky matter, because for the Assembly to be able to elect the members of the CPT we would have to change the relevant convention, which is not easy. Instead, at this point we must fight to retain one of our most important powers – our entitlement to appoint judges to the European Court of Human Rights through the useful instrument of our selection panel.
In addition, we need to give some thought to other matters that I mention in my report. For instance, there is a sub-committee of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights that deals with hearings for candidates to be judges. It has a great deal of responsibilities and a lot of work to do, but we perhaps need to structure that work better still. We should think about how we organise those hearings with candidates and verify their skills and aptitudes. We should also raise awareness of candidates among national delegations, because sometimes delegations present candidates with whom their members are not familiar. It is important that we ensure that debates about CPT reports are communicated to members’ home parliaments. Member States should be more involved, and we must ensure that they know about the situations that are elucidated in the CPT’s periodic reports.
Our second guiding thread in drafting the report was the importance of the CPT’s periodic reports and government responses being published and in the public domain. That is possible only if member States agree to publication, and some member States – we can perhaps be clearer on this point later – are not in favour of publication. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights believes that all member States should be concerned with the publication of reports. We need to “invite” – I use that as a diplomatic term – the member States in question to respond to the CPT’s reports and public statements.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Xuclà. You have four minutes and 22 seconds remaining.
Mr MAHOUX (Belgium, Spokesperson for the Socialist Group)* – The CPT has always been a fundamental means by which our Assembly can strengthen measures to prevent torture and detect any insidious manifestations of it. The evidence of physical torture can often be seen immediately, but psychological torture is far less easy to detect. Extended isolation, distance from family, the length of proceedings, the conditions of detention, prison overpopulation and a lack of consideration for people’s state of health, particularly mental health, are all factors that can be deemed to constitute torture. I would add to the list people being deprived of their freedom by successive periods of administrative detention with a lack of clearly established charges, which is against the rule of law. Collective charges and collective arrests can also be deemed to be like torture for the victims. It is important to remember that point, although the rapporteur rightly looked more at the means by which we can improve the selection of the CPT’s members, its modus operandi and how its reports are followed up. As to the selection of its candidates, we have just mentioned the resolution that underscores a clearer form of selection.
On the second important point, relations with the parties, we discussed prior authorisation of the publication of the committee’s reports, which would be a step forward in trust. Also important are relations with United Nations bodies that similarly deal with torture and respect for human rights. There should be consultation in the interest of member States. We reminded the Committee of Ministers that it undertook to provide sufficient means to the CPT and undertook to place the CPT’s reports on its agenda. The Committee of Ministers has taken on board this undertaking but not respected it until now.
Ms GOGUADZE (Georgia, Spokesperson for the European Conservative Group) – The CPT is a very effective instrument of the Council of Europe in preventing torture and inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment in member State countries. The work of the CPT has played a crucial role in very important changes and improvements in European countries.
In my country’s case, the CPT’s report and recommendations have been instrumental in transforming Georgia’s punishment-oriented correction system into the modern penal enforcement system it is today. Following the act of amnesty and comprehensive reforms revising sentencing policies and practice, Georgia reduced its high prison population three times in 2012. The number of prisoners has remained about the same in the past five years, which also demonstrates the success and sustainability of the reforms. Georgia has rehabilitated 80% of its prisons through massive infrastructure projects during the last four years, putting an end to overcrowded cells and degrading physical conditions.
Although very important, preventing torture is not just about preventing beatings, intimidation and overcrowding, and addressing the physical conditions of minimum standards of space and hygiene for those deprived of liberty. The most important transformation of today’s criminal enforcement system is the shift in focus from repression and punishment to rehabilitation and re-socialisation of inmates. The CPT’s reports and recommendations have played a very important role in this transformation in Georgia.
Turning to the report itself, the effectiveness of the CPT’s activities depends on the professionalism and impartiality of CPT members. Therefore, I welcome any initiative that improves the sustainability and effectiveness of this committee. The resolution really helps to improve the functioning of the committee, and I welcome and support such improvements.
Mr DAEMS (Belgium, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – Let me start by thanking Mr Xuclà for this important and high-quality report.
Thirty years ago, the Council of Europe made an important step towards establishing the rule of law in the European region: the adoption of the European Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Undoubtedly, the CPT, which was established on this basis, has done a tremendous job in eliminating torture and other serious violations of human rights. At the same time, the constantly emerging information about violation of human rights in prisons, police stations and other similar institutions shows how much more there is still to do.
I would like to highlight the significant expansion in the committee’s activities since the Convention was signed. It has been ratified by almost all the member States of the Council of Europe, and its acceptance gave the committee a field for action in other States. The Assembly and the Committee of Ministers have to encourage States that aim to adopt the mechanisms and principles enshrined in the Convention through its ratification.
In referring to the expansion of the committee’s activities, it is necessary to clarify that such an expansion is not only geographic. The number and variety of institutions the committee visits has also considerably increased. A committee that originally visited prisons and police stations now also visits psychiatric hospitals, social care homes and detention centres for migrants.
The committee mainly uses its preventive function, which is implemented through agency visits, monitoring, dialogues with national governments, and recommendations. It should be noted that these visits stopped being a goal as such and became the basis of a system for developing standards that aim at eliminating torture and improving conditions for detainees. The Assembly and the Committee of Ministers have to promote States’ implementation of these standards by giving full political support to those who adopt the recommendations, and by strongly reacting against those who do not.
The complete elimination of torture, of this absolutely illegal and inhuman phenomenon, may seem impossible. However, the efforts of not only the committee but the entire Council of Europe – and as Mr Mahoux mentioned, the seeking of synergies with all other international institutions pursuing the same goal – must be stepped up each day, with the aim of freeing the world from torture.
Ms GORROTXATEGUI (Spain, Spokesperson for the Group of the Unified European Left)* – First, I want to congratulate the author of the report. He shows the social relevance of the work of the CPT as part of the functions of the Council of Europe.
The report refers to different elements that could improve the work of the committee, and on behalf of my group I want to underscore some of them, because they appear to us to be essential from the point of view of the effectiveness of rights. A related issue is publication of the work of the CPT.
According to the committee, if those responsible for torture and other forms of ill treatment do not respond to indices of ill treatment and a person is deprived of freedom, it is likely that such actions will remain unsanctioned. For this essential work to be done by the CPT, for it to realise its full potential, it is important that these reports be published. If its work is published, we will be informed of its diagnosis of specific cases and we will be cognisant of the action plans it proposes. They will then meet the recommendations and we will thus know whether they are being undertaken correctly. Publicity of the work of the CPT is therefore important.
We have a clear example of a State that is a protagonist these days with the CPT: Turkey. We know that the state of emergency has made it possible to suspend or limit certain fundamental rights, including those of prisoners. We know that the CPT visited Turkey three times in 2016 and produced three reports, but we ignore their content, so it is difficult for us to do the accompanying work that would allow Turkey to perform its undertakings as a democratic State. It is difficult to follow such matters if we cannot be cognisant of the work of the CPT.
Human rights are inalienable, imprescriptible and universal, and they pertain not only to people who have their freedom but especially to people who are imprisoned. In order to safeguard the rights of people in the latter category, it is absolutely necessary that the CPT’s reports be published within a reasonable timeframe.
Mr Vusal HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party) – I thank the rapporteur for the insightful report, which summarises the work of the CPT over the past 25 years and provides recommendations for the future. The report gives us an opportunity to see how far we have come and how far we still have to go in preventing ill-treatment and torture in Europe. Of course, we still face challenges in many parts of Europe, but what has been achieved in recent decades cannot be denied.
The work of the CPT has brought about important changes. Many of its recommendations have been implemented. Transparency in places of detention is now broadly accepted. The material conditions of detention, and the selection and training of police, prison and healthcare staff, have been improved. Key fundamental safeguards are in place, such as access to a lawyer immediately after arrest. That took time, but it is now guaranteed in almost all European States – at least in law, if not always in practice. The main indicator, I think, is the decrease in the number of cases at the European Court regarding Article 3, which clearly demonstrates the progress achieved. Moreover, the CPT’s findings are regularly relied upon by the European Court.
I would like to talk about the importance of this report in evaluating room for further improvement. In my opinion, the important thing about the report’s proposals is that they all reflect current gaps and are aimed at avoiding future difficulties with the efficiency of the CPT. For instance, the proposals for improving the selection of candidates could help to ensure the CPT’s impartiality and increase the efficiency of its work, as it directly contributes to involving candidates with better expertise. Facilitating long-distance interviews and providing a model CV form could also offer a more cost-effective way of choosing eligible candidates. Another important proposal is about publication of CPT reports. I completely agree with the rapporteur that the political will of member States is very important in ensuring the publication of these reports, and that requires a voluntary approach.
I want to note the case of Azerbaijan, which recently requested publication of two different reports that can already be found on the Council of Europe website. I support the proposal that each member State should allow automatic publication, to increase transparency and encourage more open co-operation. I also want to shed light on the fact that the recommendations set out in the report do not require lengthy and challenging processes for application. All the proposals are flexible and can be made in the short term by all member States, bringing considerable efficiency to the overall activity of the CPT.
In conclusion, the success of the CPT will always be contingent upon the political support of the member States. No matter how much progress is achieved towards the elimination of torture, the need to eradicate this violation will continue. Our task is to devise and then improve all the tools that are needed for that purpose. We should therefore all support the report.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Xuclà, you will reply at the end of the debate, but do you wish to respond at this stage? That is not the case, so we will continue the debate.
Mr FARMANYAN (Armenia) – This timely report reveals the CPT’s crucial role in guaranteeing human rights and Council of Europe standards in the penitentiary systems of our member States. I join colleagues in commending the CPT for the excellent work it has done over the past quarter of a century. The deplorable crime of torture is incompatible with our standards and our aspirations. It is of the utmost importance that our member States make all the efforts required to prevent torture, as enshrined in Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Armenia ratified the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment back in 2002. We take this issue very seriously. The revision of our legislation governing this area has been an integral part of the ongoing judicial reform in our country. The ultimate goal is to amend the relevant legislation and practice so that it conforms to the best international standards. Moreover, in order to guarantee comprehensive investigation into cases of ill-treatment, a new unit of investigators, the Department for the Investigation of Torture, was established in the Special Investigation Service of Armenia. The recommendations and expertise of the CPT and the Council of Europe as a whole are invaluable in implementing these reforms.
To date there have been nine visits to Armenia by CPT experts. In all those cases the CPT reports, together with the government’s responses, have been made public, which shows the willingness of the Armenian authorities to co-operate with international organisations in this field and contribute to the better protection of fundamental human rights and freedoms. Authorisation for publication of national reports by the member States concerned reflects the transparent and constructive approach of our co-operation with the CPT.
I would never have sought to link this with the issue relating to Azerbaijan, had a colleague of mine not already mentioned it. However, the report notes that this does not apply to all member States. Only yesterday the CPT published two reports on Azerbaijan from 2005 and 2006. Colleagues, that is nothing less than a mockery of this institution. To present an outdated report from more than a decade ago is not only ridiculous but, in my view, even more disgraceful than the refusal to publish it in the first place.
Ideally, the findings of CPT experts should be subject to a joint commitment, first at national level, in order to prevent and eradicate torture in prison environments. Skeletons in the closets will not contribute to the fulfilment of these commitments. Worse still, they will destroy the possibility of finding an appropriate response to current problems.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Bereza is not here, so I call Ms Kerestecioğlu Demir.
Ms KERESTECİOĞLU DEMİR (Turkey) – I thank the rapporteur, Mr Jordi Xuclà, for bringing this crucial topic before the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. It is very important that such a report on the structure of the CPT has been written. Last week we passed the CPT a report that was very important for Turkish citizens. However, the CPT could not publish its report because the Turkish Government did not allow it. Turkey has not allowed the CPT to publish the last three reports it has prepared. Russia has allowed only three reports to be published after 26 visits. Specialist teams of the CPT visited prisons in Ankara, Istanbul and Izmir to examine the conditions of detainees after the attempted coup on 15 July last year. According to statements made by the Turkish Ministry of the Interior, about 47 000 people are in custody for allegedly being affiliated with the Gülen movement. Mykola Gnatovskyy, President of the CPT, said that hundreds of people have been interviewed and they have enough documents. She wants to talk about the findings, but she says she cannot say a word about the report on prisons in Turkey. That shows how urgent it is to increase the CPT’s effectiveness.
Under the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which has been ratified by Turkey, human rights representatives have been able to access documents on prisons and detainees since 1989. However, in practice, even the rapporteurs of the Council of Europe’s Monitoring Committee are not allowed to visit our detained co-chairs and deputies in prison. Although I have been a lawyer for 32 years, I cannot visit the detained deputies and mayors, because the Ministry of Justice does not allow me to.
The pressure on Turkish prisons has been increased under the pretext of the state of emergency. Many NGOs, such as the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, have published reports on that issue, but unfortunately, as far as we know, the CPT has not been able to examine or comment on it. Moreover, many of the prisoners exposed to bad conditions have nothing to do with the coup attempt. Many prisoners, including journalists and parliamentarians, are in prison for having exercised the right to freedom of opinion or because of accusations they have insulted the president, which is considered a crime in Turkey. Under those circumstances, I express my support for this important report, which includes recommendations on strengthening the role of the CPT and co-ordinating the CPT with the Monitoring Committee.
Ms ÆVARSDÓTTIR (Iceland) – Let me first express my sincere thanks and admiration to the rapporteur, Mr Xuclà, for his excellent work on this timely report on 25 years of the CPT, its achievements and the areas for improvement. Now more than ever, the CPT constitutes an indispensable part of Europe’s mechanism for the protection of the fundamental human rights of its citizens. The protection of the rights of those who are most vulnerable remains the most important task of our institution. Without a doubt, those who have, in one way or another, been deprived of their freedom by the State are some of our most vulnerable citizens. That group also face the greatest danger of being victims of one of the most horrendous crimes there is: physical or psychological torture. Consequently, it is vital that we do all in our power to support and strengthen the work of the CPT, and in my speech I want to focus on strengthening the impact of the CPT’s work.
I draw your attention to paragraph 9 of the draft resolution under discussion. It considers the possibility of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, as well the Monitoring Committee, “jointly inviting the President of the CPT to an annual exchange of views during which he or she could, inter alia, present the CPT’s annual report.” Furthermore, it says that the “chairpersons of national delegations to the Parliamentary Assembly of the countries visited by the CPT in the previous year could be invited to participate in this exchange of views.” It is my sincere belief that such an exchange would increase the pressure on national parliaments and governments to implement the CPT’s recommendations addressed to those respective States.
For example, in my home country of Iceland such an exchange of views would put more pressure on the government and parliament to improve the protection of our citizens’ fundamental rights. Although Iceland has the image of a forward-thinking republic that respects and protects the rights of its detainees, many of the CPT’s recommendations for improvement have not been implemented despite the CPT having repeated the same recommendations since its initial visit in 1994 and in all four visits since then. For instance, although it has repeatedly been recommended that Iceland amend its law on forcible commitment to psychiatric hospitals, no such amendment has been made since that was first recommended in 1994. Instead, we still have a law that allows for the deprivation of freedom on the sole basis that a person is suffering from mental illness. That is highly discriminatory and incompatible with the right to freedom of movement. Arbitrary detention is therefore a distinct possibility in Iceland, and, as we know, it can be a dangerous first step towards torture and inhumane treatment.
For that and many other reasons, which time does not allow me to iterate, I fully support the report under discussion. Furthermore, I urge the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Monitoring Committee to implement the suggestion in paragraph 9 and to start preparations as soon as possible for an exchange of views with the CPT and national delegations under review. Finally, I wholeheartedly urge my dear colleagues in this Assembly to vote in favour of this report and its resolution.
Mr MALTAIS (Canada, Observer)* – I begin by extending my thanks to the rapporteur for this excellent report, which covers the past 25 years in Europe extremely well. There is one point that I noted. The death penalty has been abolished, but we have to ask ourselves this: has terrorism taken its place? How many people died in 2016 in terrorist attacks? How many young people were accused of terrorism related offences? How many women and children were assassinated by terrorism? Terrorism is not the death penalty, but it causes many more deaths.
Canada is a young country. In fact, we celebrate our 150th birthday this year. We are a country that was established by emigrants. We are all emigrants – we all come from somewhere. Canada has people who have come from all over the world. We forged a nation with emigrants – people who came to our country from where they were. Now we recognise that we want once again to welcome people to our country, to give them a chance to make a new life there. Often people emigrate from their own countries because they cannot go on living there or are in fear of their lives. They have no work or future, and they come to Canada with hope. Canadians are very welcoming – over the past few centuries we have shown that we are a welcoming people. When people come to Canada they have to understand that we have a different culture from elsewhere. We do not have the death penalty and terrorism in Canada. There have been some sad and deplorable events in recent years, but those are very few and far between. We are not a war-like people; we are a welcoming people.
Within our country we seek to welcome all, and within our prison system we seek to ensure that human rights are fully respected. Every year a body looks at our prisons and penitentiary system and reports on any bad practices, which are immediately corrected. I understand that thousands and thousands of migrants feel anxious and are uprooted from their own countries, but let us ask ourselves, is racism an incurable disease? We believe not.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Kox is not here, so I call Mr Tilson.
Mr TILSON (Canada, Observer) – The draft resolution before the Assembly urges member States that have not yet done so to ratify the optional protocol to the Convention against Torture, and to designate an effective independent national preventive mechanism that meets the requirements of the convention. The Canadian Government has announced that it is consulting provincial, territorial and indigenous governments and civil society, with the goal of joining the optional protocol. Those consultations are necessary before Canada can take steps to ratify the treaty because the treaty’s obligations relate to matters that, under Canada’s constitution, fall within the jurisdiction of Canada’s provinces.
Some of you may be aware of the case of Maher Arar, a Canadian citizen who, in 2002, was the subject of extraordinary rendition to Syria, where he was interrogated, tortured, and held in degrading and inhumane conditions for nearly a year. Canada subsequently established a commission of inquiry to investigate the actions of Canadian officials in respect of Mr Arar, and to make recommendations aimed at strengthening independent review of national security activities undertaken by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. In 2013, Canada’s Parliament responded to those recommendations by passing legislation creating a new independent Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. That new body is studying how the force has implemented the inquiry’s recommendations.
Our parliament is considering legislation that would lead to an additional level of review of Canadian national security and intelligence activity by a committee of parliamentarians. In addition to our legislative work over the years, a number of Canadian parliamentary committees have visited federal correctional institutions to study and report on prison conditions and the treatment of prisoners. In fact, all Canadian parliamentarians at federal level have a right of access to Canadian penitentiaries. Such parliamentary visits, properly conducted with due respect for security, can provide an important complement to the work of other national and international mechanisms to prevent torture.
Mr CROWE (Ireland) – The history of prisons in Ireland is dominated by struggle and well documented conflict. One lesson that should be paramount is that we must ensure that prisons do not contribute to political or communal instability. I want to raise concerns about Maghaberry prison in County Antrim in the north of Ireland. A security-driven mindset there continues to dominate and needs to be replaced by a more enlightened approach and a culture of rehabilitation. Transparency, consistency and adherence to best practice and human rights must be at the heart of how prisons such as Maghaberry are run.
In recent months, unacceptable failures in the prison have been brought to public attention. Prisoners on so-called integrated wings report habitual 23-hour-a-day lock-up, with only one hour for recreation or association. Prisoners are forced to eat their daily meals in the cell space, which also contains the toilet. The routine prison diet has little or no nutritional value; young prisoners have reported that lunch typically consists of a small spam sandwich with no butter and a small bag of crisps. While its educational facilities have improved, and the commitment of outside educationists is to be commended, prisoners who wish to attend classes have difficulty doing so. Prisoners report that there is no parity of esteem for the Irish cultural identity, particularly with respect to the Irish language.
Commitment to continued, comprehensive prison reform based on principles of human dignity, decency and respect must be paramount, and I urge the CPT to look into conditions in Maghaberry. I want to raise the case of a prisoner, Tony Taylor. Mr Taylor was arrested and his early release licence under the Good Friday agreement was revoked by the previous Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers. He was detained in Maghaberry prison in March 2016 without ever having been charged, questioned, or allowed legal representation. Surely if any evidence exists to show that Mr Taylor is a risk to the public, it should be put before him and his legal team in an open court, but so far this right has been denied to him. Over the past year, no evidence has been produced that could in any way justify his continued detention, or his arrest a year ago. His being detained in this way fuels the perception of a form of legalised internment on demand, and is a violation of his fundamental human rights and a subversion of due process. He is suffering ill health and has been denied medication, and for a while he was held in a punishment block known as the care and supervision unit. His continued detention is unjust and indefensible, and needs to be addressed.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Dişli is not here.
That concludes the list of speakers. The debate is closed. I call Mr Xuclà to reply. You have four and a half minutes.
Mr XUCLÀ (Spain)* – My heartfelt thanks to all colleagues who have been so kind as to support the report and make a contribution explaining the importance of the Convention against Torture. In Georgia, the CPT was crucial in improving the quality of legislation, and we have heard that it is important to the monitoring that is going on in Northern Ireland. I support the point made about the importance of Irish. We heard from two members of the Canadian delegation; one spoke in French and the other in English, which are their national languages. I am Catalan, so I have great sympathy for those with linguistic plurality in their country.
Let us get to the heart of the matter. The important issue of publishing reports was raised. I take up the gauntlet thrown down by Mr Huseynov. He was brave to say that he was in favour of publishing reports. Let me take him at his word, because he is from Azerbaijan, one of the three Council of Europe countries that does not publish reports. This puts beyond doubt that there are members of parliament in Azerbaijan who wish to make changes. I thank him for what he says, and above all I invite him with all my heart to do all that is necessary to ensure that publication becomes possible in his country. I realise that he has been heavily involved with people who have been directly affected by these issues. He has been involved with the CPT and with people who took part in a hearing, one of whom was a compatriot of his. I ask him to do everything possible to ensure that reports are published.
In Russia, where there have been 26 visits, only three reports have been published. More recently, and very worryingly, in Turkey the last three reports have not been published, as was well set out by our colleague Ms Kerestecioğlu Demir, who is still in the Chamber. I am grateful to her for staying and representing Turkish citizens. It is important that we have dialogue, particularly when we do not agree completely; that helps us to take a decision that is worthy of support.
We heard a proposal for holding an annual joint session of the Monitoring Committee and the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, so that those on the CPT realise what has been done over the year to fight inhumane and degrading treatment in member States. That would illustrate the work that we are doing, and help us to act in a more co-ordinated way. That is important. This is a part of the report that you, Ms Ævarsdóttir, have reacted to positively. We have a lot of work to do and we see each other infrequently, so we have to make time to try to co-ordinate the work of the Monitoring Committee and the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights in order to ensure that our colleagues are that bit more aware of violations in certain countries. That is important when it comes to reports, and it is important that we have a swift response from governments. It is important that member State parliaments are better acquainted with our work and that we convey our debates back to them.
Let me finish where Mr Mahoux began. He said that torture is not always physical. It can also be psychological and that can be equally as degrading. We have to send a clear message to some States that use not only physical abuse, but long administrative detentions, for example, which are also contrary to our standards. That has to change. We must make improvements together.
I realise that I have run out of time, so I thank everyone for their contributions. I hope that the recommendation and the resolution help to send a clear message to the CPT that the Assembly supports its work, and I hope that the visibility of the CPT is increased within the Assembly.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you. Does the Deputy Chairperson of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights wish to respond?
Mr FABRITIUS (Germany)* – I assure the Assembly that the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has wholeheartedly supported the report throughout its course. Current and past chairs of the committee have always contributed to such processes, and we have consistently supported the CPT, and the sub-committee always gives recommendations on candidates for membership of the CPT, for example, as we see today with seven people being replaced. The CPT is one of the Council of Europe’s most important success stories, and feedback is always important. The report fits into the process, and gives us the necessary support when it comes to protection from torture in some member States. The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has always adopted such recommendations and resolutions unanimously, so we ask for the Assembly’s support.
The PRESIDENT – The debate is closed.
The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has presented a draft resolution and a draft recommendation. No amendments have been tabled, which is rather exceptional.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 14280. A simple majority is required.
The vote is open.
The draft resolution in Document 14280 is adopted, with 58 votes for, 0 against and 0 abstentions.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft recommendation contained in Document 14280. A simple majority is required.
The vote is open.
The draft recommendation in Document 14280 is adopted, with 58 votes for, 0 against and 0 abstentions.
5. Abusive use of the Interpol system: the need for more stringent legal safeguards
The PRESIDENT – The final business this afternoon is the debate on the report “Abusive use of the Interpol system: the need for more stringent legal safeguards”, Document 14277, presented by Mr Bernd Fabritius on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights.
I remind colleagues that speaking time is limited to three minutes.
I call Mr Fabritius, rapporteur. You have 13 minutes in total, which you may divide between presentation of the report and reply to the debate.
Mr FABRITIUS (Germany)* – The Assembly has before it today the draft report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on “Abusive use of the Interpol system: the need for more stringent legal safeguards”. The committee has been dealing with the issue for over two years and has held more than three hearings with representatives from Interpol and civil society experts, including meetings in May 2015 in Yerevan, May 2016 in Rome, and December 2016 in Paris with Secretary General Dr Jürgen Stock. I thank Dr Stock and the experts for their great co-operation.
Mutual trust is an essential precondition for successful international co-operation between police authorities. Organising such co-operation is one of Interpol’s key tasks. Internationally active criminals should not feel safe anywhere in the world. That is Interpol’s aim and that is why we need to strengthen it. Unfortunately, however, that essential trust between national police authorities and with Interpol is not always there and can sometimes be undermined when the system is abused. I can provide numerous examples of politically motivated Red Notices. Such examples have been raised in dialogue with civil society, with me and with the Assembly and have led to numerous discussions about how to prevent abuse of the system.
The matter was raised at Interpol’s General Assembly last autumn last in Bali, and the changes came into effect just a few weeks ago in March. The most important steps are mentioned in our resolution and referred to in detail in the memorandum. The reforms include strengthening the Commission for the Control of Files, which must become a supervisory body for potential victims of abusive Red Notices because it will otherwise be impossible to maintain Interpol’s immunity in the light of the accusations. When cases are brought before any of the courts in Strasbourg or Luxembourg, I am aware that we have limited time and resources, so the ability to conduct in-depth checks is limited. Such things need to work in parallel with the tremendously fast-growing use of Red Notices. The number has increased almost five times over the course of the past two years, and that trend continues with almost 13,000 Red Notices being issued in 2016. In addition to the calls for checks and balances, the recommendation is that the available resources are targeted so that the motives behind a request for a Red Notice from a national central bureau can be checked. There is a proposal for a blacklist of unacceptable uses of the system. As with the “polluter pays” principle used in environmental laws, the governments that make abusive use of the NCB notice system should, at the end of the day, pay the extra cost. In that way, additional funds could be created. In the long term, an incentive would be created for fewer such NCB notices to be filed and for governments to refrain from such practices.
Such a recommendation must be based on solid facts. The statistics speak for themselves and should have the necessary persuasive effect. That should be the case in particular when information is published on a regular basis. Such information would provide a helpful basis for decision-making for target authorities as to whether such information should be checked in a normal fashion or subject to particular in-depth checks.
My last comment is on the issue of public relations and transparency. Much of the information dealt with by Interpol on individual investigations must of course be dealt with confidentially, but under certain conditions exceptions must be possible to allow individuals to have a fair opportunity to defend themselves. So the principle of confidentiality should not be abused to hinder the general public from having access to certain information. This applies when other principles would counteract this. We are thinking about the practical guidelines under Articles 2 and 3 of the Interpol constitution or the guidelines on the practice of Red Notices when the target is a recognised refugee.
I am pleased to be able to tell you today that, just a few days after the publication of our draft report, Interpol has published its guidelines on Article 3 on its own website. This relates to Interpol refraining from becoming involved in the use of Red Notices when the motives behind such an application could have religious, political or similar causes, for example when the individual is a recognised refugee. I am also thinking about the case of Alexander Lapshin, the travel blogger. He was not treated fairly, as he should have been under paragraph 55 of the memorandum. After some delay, Interpol decided to make an exception from its policy of neither confirming nor denying the existence of a Red Notice. Contrary to the depiction by the Azerbaijani authorities, which had been taken up by the media, including the BBC, a Red Notice against Mr Lapshin had not been applied for because of a journey many years ago to Nagorno-Karabakh. Mr Lapshin was subject to applications because of other journeys. Interpol’s internal filter mechanisms had therefore worked well, and the case shows that greater transparency on the part of Interpol can indeed help to avoid misunderstandings without harming investigations.
I ask colleagues for their support for the draft resolution. We think it is important that the abusive use of this important tool by just a few States should be hindered as much as possible. Interpol and human and civil rights defenders in Europe are clearly on the same side, and I look forward to our joint debate.
The PRESIDENT – Thank you, Mr Fabritius. You have four minutes remaining.
Mr ÁRNASON (Iceland, Spokesperson for the European Conservatives Group) – Law enforcement agencies can be seen as a cornerstone of democratic societies, protecting democracy and human rights and making our communities safer through law and order. In order for law enforcement to function in our society, it must have the trust of the public. I am convinced that agencies such as Interpol are guided by this principle in every aspect of their work. As a former police officer, I can say that what mattered most to me was the trust of those I served.
The most important thing for citizens is fundamental human rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of movement. That is something we can all agree on: no one here would want to be without these fundamental human rights and no one should in our modern world.
Recently, accusations have been made that some of Interpol’s member states have abused the organisation by requesting extradition of alleged criminals, without trial, using reasons of international crime or terrorist threats. Whether those accusations are proven correct or not, it is clear that we must protect the organisation. Such abuse cannot be tolerated as it would fundamentally undermine public confidence in Interpol. Therefore, this is a serious matter and measures must be taken to prevent such abuse without getting in the way of Interpol fulfilling its important role. Just like our own Council of Europe, Interpol and other international organisations are as strong as the will of their member States to adhere to and to respect both the letter and the spirit of the rules.
Mr KROSS (Estonia, Spokesperson for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe) – On behalf of the ALDE group and also personally, I would like to thank Mr Fabritius for his excellent work on this report. I cannot emphasise enough how important the topic of systematic abuse of Interpol Red Notices by several authoritarian and corrupt regimes has become. We have heard the numbers, and it is long overdue for this Assembly to get seriously involved in this matter. I am very pleased that we are doing so now.
From reading the report, we see that a lot of it is about legal details and legal aspects. Yes, it is in large part a problem of legalities, a problem of judicial and police co-operation. But it also has political and security dimensions. From the cases presented in the report, it is obvious that the misuse of Interpol Red Notices is actually part of systematic aggressive behaviour by certain countries, particularly Russia. It is not single incidents or single corrupt judges. That would be bad enough. Russia in particular is systematically abusing the Interpol system against its political opponents, both domestic and foreign. In short, this is part of the phenomenon that we talk so much about in different contexts. It is part of the cyber-attacks, the hacking of foreign elections, the fabrication of news stories, the discrediting of efforts via leaked illegal recordings and government-controlled media operations. It is part of what we have come to know as hybrid threats.
We should all stop for a second and think about that. Has Interpol allowed itself to become a tool of Russian hybrid warfare against liberal values and a tool for violating human rights? That not only discredits Interpol but it destroys the lives of people who most need defending by this institution, and it destroys general trust in law and order and in law enforcement. It destroys the very fabric of our democracies. Interpol should not become a unit of little green men. That is not an exaggeration.
This is a good report that makes good recommendations. I hope that they will be implemented fast. I am sure that we can make further progress in future.
Mr FEIST (Germany, Spokesperson for the Group of the European People’s Party)* – On behalf of the European People’s Party, I express my thanks for the report, which is balanced. In our globalised world it is important that we talk not only about what is good, but about what is bad as well. The bad relates to criminal activity. One of the roles of Interpol is, of course, to combat and investigate criminality and terrorism. The balanced nature of the report also clarifies that abusive requests should be eliminated, and that is an important point. The rapporteur has made suggestions about how that can be done – there is the issue of the “polluter pays” principle: that the costs involved in the request should be borne by the requesting body. When the situation is objective, we can avoid excessive regulation that makes the system impossible to apply. We need a fair balance: neither too much nor too little regulation.
The report has special significance for me. I grew up in a country that no longer exists – the former German Democratic Republic. No distinction was made in that country between criminals and members of the opposition. I come from Leipzig and was part of the peaceful revolution. When the first demonstrations started, people who took part were treated as criminals. We need to be clear that Interpol exists to hunt down criminals and extradite terrorists but not to add people to blacklists who should not be on them. That is why I fully support the report.
When the report was published, Interpol became aware of it and made steps towards increasing transparency. In this incredibly sensitive field, we have an important role. We are the watchdogs and protectors of human rights, democracy and the rule of law. It is good that Interpol has responded. It has said, “Well, the Council of Europe has produced a report. We shall respond rapidly and ensure that transparency can be improved.” I hope that the report will lead to fewer and fewer abusive requests.
The PRESIDENT – That concludes the speeches on behalf of the political groups. The rapporteur will reply at the end of the debate. Mr Cepeda is not here, so I call Mr Yemets.
Mr YEMETS (Ukraine) – I thank Mr Fabritius for a great report about an important issue for all our countries. Interpol is one of the most efficient instruments for international co-operation in the fight against transnational crime, including terrorism. Currently, it unites 190 member countries around the world with different levels of democracy, which sometimes leads to the prosecution of political refugees and opponents on the basis of international arrest warrants issued solely for the purpose of harassing them. In some cases, such abuses of the international warrant system are even used to intimidate other States – for example, the recent attempt by the Russian Federation to issue an international warrant against Ukraine’s Minister of Defence and a group of high-profile Ukrainian generals.
Some of the most vivid examples of such manipulations are mentioned in the report we are now considering. Such actions directly affect human rights and individual freedoms and discredit Interpol. I strongly believe that Interpol should take specific steps to prevent such abuses or provide relief to the victims of such manipulations in accordance with the highest standards of the Council of Europe. It should develop more clearly defined criteria for identifying politically motivated cases.
On the other hand, the Assembly should encourage any legitimate steps that need to be taken to give Interpol the resources needed to cope with the increased use made of its services. Within its mandate, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe should take all necessary steps to ensure the effectiveness of Interpol and protect it from possible manipulations. Once again, I stress my support of Interpol’s activities and hope that the Assembly’s resolution on the matter will be helpful to further improve the efficiency of the organisation. Thank you for your attention.
The PRESIDENT – Mr Uysal is not present, so I call Mr Tilson.
Mr TILSON (Canada, Observer) – This evening, we are reviewing the issues related to the abusive use of Interpol’s Red Notices and the importance of police co-operation in the fight against transnational crime while ensuring the respect of human rights and the rule of law. As members are aware, Red Notices are electronic alerts published by Interpol at the request of a country to seek the location and arrest of a wanted person, and they are a very useful tool for law enforcement. In 2009, Canada became one of the first countries to give its frontline police officers access to Interpol’s criminal databases. This real-time capability ensures that police investigations are more efficient.
Canada considers the respect of the rule of law to be paramount in all criminal investigations. In Canada, enforcement agencies can request a Red Notice only if they have reasonable grounds to believe that a crime has been committed. Those grounds must be objectively justifiable. Law enforcement agencies, in requesting Red Notices, must also abide by the principles set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, such as the freedom of expression and the rights to be presumed innocent and not to be arbitrarily detained. I fully support the reforms proposed in the report, such as strengthening the independence of the Commission for the Control of Files and setting up a fund for compensation of victims of abusive Red Notices.
In 2013, Canada strengthened oversight of our Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the organisation responsible for operating the National Central Bureau and requesting Red Notices. Canadian Bill C-42 created an independent review and complaint mechanism for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in order to increase accountability to its members and to the public. In 2015, Canada also enacted the Victims Bill of Rights and enhanced the rights of victims to information.
I agree with the report that the effective prevention of human rights violations will bolster Interpol’s credibility and its effectiveness as a tool in the fight against transnational crime, including terrorism. Thank you for this opportunity to speak on this important matter.
Mr KANDELAKI (Georgia) – The recent intensification and increase of instances of the abuse of Interpol is caused by a simple fact: the Russian Federation has managed to increase its influence, I believe temporarily, in that important institution. That has created space for the Russian Federation and other authoritarian countries to abuse Interpol. Recently, for the first time in Interpol’s history, a Russian General, Major General Proporchuk, was appointed vice-president of Interpol in charge of Europe. The official biography of that general states that he took part in combat operations, most probably against my country, in 2008. Thus, it is not surprising that through Interpol the Russian Federation has managed to issue Red Notices against three decorated Georgian officers: Colonel Gia Maisuradze, Lieutenant Colonel Giorgi Tsertsvadze and Colonel Zurab Otiashvili. In 2013, the Russian Federation managed to issue a Red Notice against a sitting Georgian parliamentarian, my colleague and friend Givi Targamadze, who was accused of attempting a coup in Russia. All those Red Notices were later removed, but the Russian Federation continues to issue bilateral requests and monitors the movement of individuals whose freedom of movement it is interested in restricting.
Unfortunately, the Georgian Government has been, on a smaller scale, misusing Interpol. It has tried to use it as a tool of political retribution against its political opponents. In most cases, however, the courts of civilised countries have rejected the Georgian Government’s requests. For example, in the case of the former Defence Minister Kezerashvili, not only did the French court reject its request but the French prosecutors office told the court that the request was so politically motivated that it had to be thrown out.
Interpol is an intergovernmental organisation. Today’s report, for which we thank Mr Fabritius, is an excellent first step in countering effectively the current deplorable state of affairs. I urge all colleagues present and those not present to engage with their governments to counter that reality, which does a disservice to Interpol’s very purpose.
(Ms Gambaro, Vice-President of the Assembly, took the Chair in place of Mr Corlăţean.)
Ms KARAPETYAN (Armenia) – I thank the rapporteur for the excellent work that has been done. The topic is important and needs to be at the centre of our attention because of its implications for human rights and basic freedoms. We should stress the importance of Interpol as an efficient instrument for international co-operation in the fight against transnational crime. We should underline one important thing clearly: no country is allowed to use the reputation and name of Interpol to reach its own goals, especially in the pursuit of political aims.
The report rightly mentions examples of the abuse of the Interpol system. Several member States, often knowingly, have attempted to violate Article 3 of Interpol’s constitution, which strictly prohibits any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racist character. A few such cases relate to Azerbaijan’s requests placed with Interpol. In one case, Azerbaijan asked Belarus to detain travel blogger Alexander Lapshin, among whose so-called crimes was a criticism of the Azeri Government and a visit to the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, which successfully broke away from Soviet Azerbaijan over a quarter a century ago. Interpol refused Azerbaijan’s request on Lapshin, but the blogger, holding Russian and Israeli nationality, was nevertheless arrested by Belarus and extradited to Baku. Appallingly, in attempting to justify his actions for his friend, the Azeri President llham Aliyev, the President of Belarus cited the Interpol arrest warrant. That probably constitutes another form of abuse, where the name of the organisation is wrongly cited without any consequences for the abuser.
The abusive use of Interpol was, ridiculously, continued. Just two weeks after Lapshin’s extradition, authorities in Azerbaijan issued international arrest warrants for three Members of the European Parliament who visited the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and monitored a constitutional referendum. Also, some archaeologists are wanted by Azerbaijan for conducting their professional activities.
I would like to believe that our efforts will lead us to respect Interpol, which is such an important organisation, and to co-operate to prevent crime. It must not be turned into another political tribune.
Mr HOWELL (United Kingdom) – I too welcome the report. We face a situation today where our justice system across the board is at risk of being abused. It is not just Interpol, to which I will devote the majority of my speech; it is the European arrest warrant, too. We have already seen how that is being abused by countries such as Poland, which are reported to be using it to issue warrants for parking fines. This is an issue for Interpol. It, too, is being abused.
It is important to point out, as the report does, that Interpol is an important part of the fight against serious crime and particularly of the fight against terrorism. It should be used for the important work of sharing information via its own channels among member States. There is much need for that. It plays an important part in cross-border law enforcement. Its databases and the tools it uses are important in dealing with transnational crime, in dealing with dangerous people and indeed in dealing with vulnerable people.
As the report shows, it is the Red Notice system that is being abused. That is a useful system to seek the location and arrest of individuals in certain circumstances. To put that into context, there are now almost 50 000 Red Notices in circulation, some of which are public.
What happens when a Red Notice is misused? It can result in the detention or arrest of an individual. They may be stopped from travelling. It can harm their reputation and increase the stress they feel at being wanted internationally. Therefore, it is important to ensure that it is used correctly.
This report is not the first from this Assembly to draw attention to the way in which the Red Notices are being used. We have already highlighted how that can conflict with human rights and with the need for Interpol to stay out of military, political and religious matters, for example. However, as the report brings out clearly, one of the biggest problems is the lack of ability of anyone served a notice to challenge it before their own national or international courts. The rights that gives Interpol to be above the law is quite considerable and places people who have been targeted politically at a disadvantage. The internal appeals mechanisms are limited and the report rightly calls for reform of that area. It asks that more resource be put into that part of Interpol.
Interpol is a valuable part of our armoury for dealing with organised crime and terrorism. It is important that it works and that it is not abused.
Mr ZINGERIS (Lithuania) – When democracy in the world is shrinking and totalitarian regimes are using Interpol and international channels for political purposes and to hunt their political opponents, it is necessary to have such a report, whose overview, remarks, paragraphs and resolution produced by our friend Bernd Fabritius are most valuable.
A few months ago, there was a special case. Lithuania had issued political refugee papers to a Russian citizen involved in the democratic movement, Nikita Kulashenkov, but he was detained in Cyprus following a Red Notice from Moscow. We had to spend some time trying to convince the Cyprus authorities that this gentleman, who is 22 years old, is a political refugee. Our Minister of Internal Affairs brought all necessary material to the attention of the Cyprus Government.
Misuse of Interpol is related to governmental channels and embassies trying to hunt so-called enemies of the State. The Council of Europe, as a democratic institution, needs to prevent that. In addition to Interpol, which has more than 180 countries, we have our own European arrest warrant. Even in our countries and the European Union, our democratic societies where we trust in the separation of powers and our prosecutorial offices, we still have some internal political competition. I do not want to mention names or countries – I might be biased and some cases require deeper investigation – but from time to time we still have politically motivated European arrest warrants.
A clear case, for example, is that of Mr Adamescu and his son. Adamescu, who was the editor-in-chief of one of the main newspapers in Romania, died a few months ago in jail. His son, a German citizen, is still the subject of a Red Notice and a European arrest warrant. We need to stop misuse of Interpol for political reasons, especially on the part of totalitarian regimes. We need to defend our democratic values. Such points were made in the best possible way in the report. I sincerely congratulate Mr Fabritius, my colleague and fellow parliamentarian, on doing a fantastic job, which the whole team supported.
Mr Vusal HUSEYNOV (Azerbaijan) – I, too, congratulate the rapporteur on his well-prepared report. It will contribute to the elimination of the abuse of Interpol’s Red Notices for human rights violations.
I signed up to speak about this report because I knew that the case of Alexander Lapshin would be raised. Mr Fabritius mentioned it in his introductory remarks. First, I want to note the fact that Nagorno-Karabakh is the territory of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia. That is backed by numerous resolutions. I invite our Armenian colleague not to confuse the audience here, because we all know that it is territory occupied by Armenia.
Who is Alexander Lapshin? He holds three citizenships, as far as I know, but in spite of warnings from the foreign ministers of the three countries of which he is a citizen, and without the permission of the Azerbaijani authorities, he illegally visited the territory of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenia. He then called for the violation of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognised territorial integrity.
Alexander Lapshin knew that his name was on the list of undesirable persons, but he used another passport to breach the borders of Azerbaijan. A criminal case was of course brought against him and consequently he was put on the international wanted list. The case is completely legal in nature and should not be the subject of political provocation. Lapshin is a victim of Armenian propaganda and policy, because Armenia fraudulently attracts foreign nationals into illegal visits to Azerbaijan’s occupied territories and then tries to turn them into a tool of political propaganda. Regardless of whether someone is a journalist, a blogger or a European politician, everyone should respect the territorial integrity and national legislation of a country. We should therefore try not to imagine any political background to the Lapshin case, instead looking at it purely from the legal point of view.
The report will contribute to the work of Interpol and to the investigation mechanism for considering appeals for Red Notices. At the same time it will act as an efficient means for co-operation among the law enforcement agencies of our member States.
The PRESIDENT* – That concludes the list of speakers.
I call Mr Fabritius to reply. You have four minutes remaining.
Mr FABRITIUS (Germany)* – I will try to be swift as I go through the different contributions.
Mr Árnason, as a former policeman, you said that trust in Interpol is very important. I share that point of view. I also thank you, Mr Kross, for noting that the problem is political. You are quite right to say that. We have a lack of understanding of the nature of politics in these countries – yes, there is misuse and abuse, and that is precisely why we need sanctions. With regard to international relations, we need financial sanctions.
Mr Feist, you mentioned the need for measures to be taken, and I agree, but there has been a certain turnaround recently – we need to strengthen Interpol, not weaken it, to avoid abuses. Major changes have to be made, but in a sustainable way. We need to observe carefully over time how Interpol implements the proposals and what need for correction subsequently exists.
Mr Yemets, you gave the example of Russia. Of course, Russia is not the only country that misuses the system – several of the 190 countries that belong to Interpol do so. We need protection from manipulation of the system, and that is what the report targets.
Mr Tilson, from Canada, I am very pleased that you took the floor, because Canada was one of the first countries that made direct use of Interpol. You have the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and you are quite right that the problematic countries in the Interpol system are not those that uphold the values that it covers but those that sadly fail to respect them.
Mr Kandelaki, you also mentioned Russia. It would be wrong only to cite Russia as a State that abuses the system, because the 190 countries of Interpol include those such as China, Kenya and Bangladesh, which do the same. They do not always use the Interpol system as they should. If we are to prevent abuse, there is always a first step that needs to be taken.
Ms Karapetyan, you mentioned the case of Mr Lapshin. I would not say that he necessarily suffered; rather, the whole case was abused on both sides, so in some ways Interpol was slandered. That is why we think it would be good if, in the future, Interpol could release the information as to whether a Red Notice has been issued.
Mr Howell, you raised the issue of European arrest warrant information, but I do not think that has any link to Interpol. It is a separate tool, restricted to the European Union, that has existed since June 2002. It is supposed to mean that European Union member States can implement national arrest warrants. I do not think it is quite correct to compare abuse of the Interpol system with that of the European arrest warrant. If you think the latter should be looked at separately, maybe it can be the topic of a separate debate, but there is no link with Interpol.
Mr Huseynov, you also mentioned the case of Mr Lapshin, on which I have already given my position.
I thank all members for their contributions, and I promise that I will use the next year to look into the implementation of the changes, and then I will perhaps come back to the Assembly with my interim report. I thank members for their support in the meantime.
The PRESIDENT* – Thank you. Does Mr Schwabe wish to speak on behalf of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights?
Mr SCHWABE (Germany)* – On behalf of the committee, I thank Mr Fabritius very much. The debate has made it clear that the report is detailed and well substantiated. I, too, have been dealing with this matter over the past few months and years, and it is certainly true that some absurd cases have sprung to light. I am glad that civil society has taken a greater role and that Interpol is taking the issues that have arisen more seriously. In a number of cases in which people have been treated unfairly, progress has now been made – we have heard examples of that today. People who have been unfairly arrested must of course be released.
I call on the Assembly to give strong support to the report and the draft resolution. Mr Fabritius has mentioned the side event that was held, and this detailed and balanced report was unanimously approved in the committee. Yesterday a report on the North Caucasus region, which is a problematic area where a lot of progress is needed, was presented to the Assembly. Similarly, a lot of progress was needed on the issue that we are discussing now, and we have been in a position to achieve progress both in individual cases and more generally. The report is a wonderful example of the work of the Assembly, and I thank the rapporteur very much for his work. On behalf of the committee, I call on all members to support the draft resolution.
The PRESIDENT* – The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has presented a draft resolution, to which no amendments have been tabled.
We will now proceed to vote on the whole of the draft resolution contained in Document 14277. A simple majority is required.
The vote is open.
The draft resolution in Document 14277 is adopted, with 51 votes for, 0 against and 0 abstentions.
6. Next public business
The PRESIDENT* – The Assembly will hold its next public sitting tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. with the agenda that was approved on Monday.
The sitting is closed.
(The sitting was closed at 7.25 p.m.)
1. Changes in the membership of committees
2. Annual activity report 2016 by the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights
Presentation by Mr Muižnieks of the annual activity report.
Questions: Mr Farmanyan, Mr Le Borgn’, Mr Goncharenko, Ms Brasseur, Ms Kavvadia, Ms Blondin, Mr Schwabe, Mr Gutiérrez, Mr Corlăţean, Mr Rafael Huseynov, Mr Ghiletchi, Mr Csenger-Zalán, Mr Herkel, Ms Christoffersen, Mr Silva, Ms Huovinen, Mr Vusal Huseynov, Ms Durrieu, Mr Kürkçü, Ms Christodoulopoulou, Ms Chugoshvili, Mr Sabella, Mr Honkonen.
3. Current affairs debate: European values under threat: addressing rising xenophobia, antisemitism and Islamophobia in Europe
Speakers: Ms de Sutter, Mr Howell, Ms Rodríguez Hernández, Ms Jakobsdóttir, Ms Centemero, Ms Gosselin-Fleury, Ms Bartos, Mr Corlăţean, Mr Elalouf, Ms Gafarova, Ms Prunä, Mr Oliver, Mr Kiral, Mr Wold, Ms Ævarsdóttir, Mr Rafael Huseynov.
4. 25 years of the CPT: achievements and areas for improvement
Presentation by Mr Xuclà of the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Document 14280
Speakers: Mr Mahoux, Ms Goguadze, Mr Daems, Ms Gorrotxategui, Mr Vusal Huseynov, Mr Farmanyan, Ms Kerestecioğlu Demir, Ms Ævarsdóttir, Mr Maltais, Mr Tilson, Mr Crowe.
Draft resolution in Document 14280 adopted.
Draft recommendation in Document 14280 adopted.
5. Abusive use of the Interpol system: the need for more stringent legal safeguards
Presentation by Mr Fabritius of the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, Document 14277
Speakers: Mr Arnason, Mr Kross, Mr Feist, Mr Yemets, Mr Tilson, Mr Kandelaki, Ms Karapetyan, Mr Howell, Mr Zingeris, Mr Vusal Huseynov.
Draft resolution in Document 14277 adopted.
6. Next public business
Appendix / Annexe
Representatives or Substitutes who signed the register of attendance in accordance with Rule 12.2 of the Rules of Procedure.The names of members substituted follow (in brackets) the names of participating members.
Liste des représentants ou suppléants ayant signé le registre de présence, conformément à l’article 12.2 du Règlement.Le nom des personnes remplacées suit celui des Membres remplaçant, entre parenthèses.
ÅBERG, Boriana [Ms]
ÆVARSDÓTTIR, Thorhildur Sunna [Ms]
ALLAVENA, Jean-Charles [M.]
ANDERSON, Donald [Lord]
ARIEV, Volodymyr [Mr]
ÁRNASON, Vilhjálmur [Mr]
ARNAUT, Damir [Mr]
BALIĆ, Marijana [Ms]
BARTOS, Mónika [Ms] (CSÖBÖR, Katalin [Mme])
BAYKAL, Deniz [Mr]
BERGAMINI, Deborah [Ms]
BERNACKI, Włodzimierz [Mr]
BİLGEHAN, Gülsün [Mme]
BILLSTRÖM, Tobias [Mr]
BÎZGAN-GAYRAL, Oana-Mioara [Ms] (BRĂILOIU, Tit-Liviu [Mr])
BLONDIN, Maryvonne [Mme]
BOSIĆ, Mladen [Mr]
BRASSEUR, Anne [Mme]
BRUYN, Piet De [Mr]
BÜCHEL, Roland Rino [Mr] (MÜLLER, Thomas [Mr])
CENTEMERO, Elena [Ms]
CEPEDA, José [Mr]
CHRISTODOULOPOULOU, Anastasia [Ms]
CHRISTOFFERSEN, Lise [Ms]
CHUGOSHVILI, Tamar [Ms]
CILEVIČS, Boriss [Mr] (LĪBIŅA-EGNERE, Inese [Ms])
CORLĂŢEAN, Titus [Mr]
CORSINI, Paolo [Mr]
CROWE, Seán [Mr]
CRUCHTEN, Yves [M.]
CSENGER-ZALÁN, Zsolt [Mr]
DAEMS, Hendrik [Mr] (DUMERY, Daphné [Ms])
DALLOZ, Marie-Christine [Mme] (MARIANI, Thierry [M.])
DIVINA, Sergio [Mr]
DURRIEU, Josette [Mme]
EBERLE-STRUB, Susanne [Ms]
ESEYAN, Markar [Mr]
ESTRELA, Edite [Mme] (ROSETA, Helena [Mme])
FABRITIUS, Bernd [Mr] (HENNRICH, Michael [Mr])
FARMANYAN, Samvel [Mr]
FATALIYEVA, Sevinj [Ms] (HAJIYEV, Sabir [Mr])
FAZZONE, Claudio [Mr] (BERNINI, Anna Maria [Ms])
FEIST, Thomas [Mr] (OBERMEIER, Julia [Ms])
FOURNIER, Bernard [M.]
FRANKOVIĆ, Mato [Mr]
FRESKO-ROLFO, Béatrice [Mme]
FRIDEZ, Pierre-Alain [M.]
GAFAROVA, Sahiba [Ms]
GALATI, Giuseppe [Mr] (SANTANGELO, Vincenzo [Mr])
GALE, Roger [Sir]
GAMBARO, Adele [Ms]
GATTI, Marco [M.]
GHILETCHI, Valeriu [Mr]
GIRO, Francesco Maria [Mr]
GOGUADZE, Nino [Ms] (KVATCHANTIRADZE, Zviad [Mr])
GONCHARENKO, Oleksii [Mr]
GORROTXATEGUI, Miren Edurne [Mme] (BALLESTER, Ángela [Ms])
GOSSELIN-FLEURY, Geneviève [Mme] (KARAMANLI, Marietta [Mme])
GOY-CHAVENT, Sylvie [Mme]
GUTIÉRREZ, Antonio [Mr]
HAGEBAKKEN, Tore [Mr] (SCHOU, Ingjerd [Ms])
HEER, Alfred [Mr]
HERKEL, Andres [Mr] (MIKKO, Marianne [Ms])
HETTO-GAASCH, Françoise [Mme]
HOFFMANN, Rózsa [Mme] (VEJKEY, Imre [Mr])
HOLÍK, Pavel [Mr] (MARKOVÁ, Soňa [Ms])
HONKONEN, Petri [Mr] (PACKALÉN, Tom [Mr])
HOPKINS, Maura [Ms]
HOWELL, John [Mr]
HUOVINEN, Susanna [Ms] (GUZENINA, Maria [Ms])
HUSEYNOV, Rafael [Mr]
HUSEYNOV, Vusal [Mr] (PASHAYEVA, Ganira [Ms])
JAKOBSDÓTTIR, Katrín [Ms]
JENIŠTA, Luděk [Mr]
JENSEN, Mogens [Mr]
JENSSEN, Frank J. [Mr]
JOVANOVIĆ, Jovan [Mr]
KALMARI, Anne [Ms]
KANDELAKI, Giorgi [Mr] (BAKRADZE, David [Mr])
KANDEMİR, Erkan [Mr]
KARAPETYAN, Naira [Ms] (ZOHRABYAN, Naira [Mme])
KARLSSON, Niklas [Mr]
KAVVADIA, Ioanneta [Ms]
KERESTECİOĞLU DEMİR, Filiz [Ms]
KIRAL, Serhii [Mr] (LABAZIUK, Serhiy [Mr])
KORUN, Alev [Ms]
KOX, Tiny [Mr]
KRIŠTO, Borjana [Ms]
KROSS, Eerik-Niiles [Mr]
KÜRKÇÜ, Ertuğrul [Mr]
KYRIAKIDES, Stella [Ms]
LE BORGN’, Pierre-Yves [M.]
LEITE RAMOS, Luís [M.]
LEŚNIAK, Józef [M.] (POMASKA, Agnieszka [Ms])
LOGVYNSKYI, Georgii [Mr]
LOUCAIDES, George [Mr]
MAHOUX, Philippe [M.]
MAROSZ, Ján [Mr]
MARQUES, Duarte [Mr]
MASIULIS, Kęstutis [Mr] (ŠAKALIENĖ, Dovilė [Ms])
MAURY PASQUIER, Liliane [Mme]
MAVROTAS, Georgios [Mr] (KASIMATI, Nina [Ms])
MILEWSKI, Daniel [Mr]
MULLEN, Rónán [Mr] (COWEN, Barry [Mr])
MUNYAMA, Killion [Mr] (HALICKI, Andrzej [Mr])
NENUTIL, Miroslav [Mr]
NICOLINI, Marco [Mr] (D’AMBROSIO, Vanessa [Ms])
OBRADOVIĆ, Marija [Ms]
OBREMSKI, Jarosław [Mr] (BUDNER, Margareta [Ms])
OHLSSON, Carina [Ms]
O’REILLY, Joseph [Mr]
PALIHOVICI, Liliana [Ms] (BULIGA, Valentina [Mme])
PALLARÉS, Judith [Ms]
PANTIĆ PILJA, Biljana [Ms]
PAŠKA, Jaroslav [M.]
PECKOVÁ, Gabriela [Ms] (KOSTŘICA, Rom [Mr])
POCIEJ, Aleksander [M.] (KLICH, Bogdan [Mr])
PODOLNJAK, Robert [Mr] (HAJDUKOVIĆ, Domagoj [Mr])
POZZO DI BORGO, Yves [M.] (GROSDIDIER, François [M.])
PREDA, Cezar Florin [M.]
PRUNĂ, Cristina-Mădălina [Ms]
PSYCHOGIOS, Georgios [Mr] (ANAGNOSTOPOULOU, Athanasia [Ms])
REISS, Frédéric [M.] (ZIMMERMANN, Marie-Jo [Mme])
RIGONI, Andrea [Mr]
ROCA, Jordi [Mr] (BARREIRO, José Manuel [Mr])
RODRÍGUEZ HERNÁNDEZ, Melisa [Ms]
ROUQUET, René [M.]
RUSTAMYAN, Armen [M.] (ZOURABIAN, Levon [Mr])
SANTA ANA, María Concepción de [Ms]
SCHENNACH, Stefan [Mr]
SCHNABEL, Paul [Mr]
SCHNEIDER, André [M.] (ROCHEBLOINE, François [M.])
SCHNEIDER-SCHNEITER, Elisabeth [Mme] (LOMBARDI, Filippo [M.])
SCHRIJVER, Nico [Mr]
SCHWABE, Frank [Mr]
ŠEPIĆ, Senad [Mr]
SILVA, Adão [M.]
SOBOLEV, Serhiy [Mr]
SOTNYK, Olena [Ms]
SPADONI, Maria Edera [Ms] (CATALFO, Nunzia [Ms])
STROE, Ionuț-Marian [Mr]
SUTTER, Petra De [Ms] (DESTEXHE, Alain [M.])
THIÉRY, Damien [M.]
TILKI, Attila [Mr] (GULYÁS, Gergely [Mr])
TORNARE, Manuel [M.] (FIALA, Doris [Mme])
TRUSKOLASKI, Krzysztof [Mr]
VÁHALOVÁ, Dana [Ms]
VALEN, Snorre Serigstad [Mr]
VAREIKIS, Egidijus [Mr]
VEN, Mart van de [Mr]
VENIZELOS, Evangelos [M.] (BAKOYANNIS, Theodora [Ms])
VERCAMER, Stefaan [M.]
VIROLAINEN, Anne-Mari [Ms]
WENAWESER, Christoph [Mr]
WERNER, Katrin [Ms]
WIECHEL, Markus [Mr] (NISSINEN, Johan [Mr])
WILK, Jacek [Mr]
WOJTYŁA, Andrzej [Mr]
WOLD, Morten [Mr]
WURM, Gisela [Ms]
XUCLÀ, Jordi [Mr] (BILDARRATZ, Jokin [Mr])
YEMETS, Leonid [Mr]
ZELIENKOVÁ, Kristýna [Ms]
ZINGERIS, Emanuelis [Mr]
Also signed the register / Ont également signé le registre
Representatives or Substitutes not authorised to vote / Représentants ou suppléants non autorisés à voter
BESELIA, Eka [Ms]
BONET, Sílvia Eloïsa [Ms]
CORREIA, Telmo [M.]
FIALA, Doris [Mme]
MAGAZINOVIĆ, Saša [Mr]
MOŻDŹANOWSKA, Andżelika [Ms]
OVERBEEK, Henk [Mr]
ÖZSOY, Hişyar [Mr]
RIBERAYGUA, Patrícia [Mme]
SCHOU, Ingjerd [Ms]
ZAVOLI, Roger [Mr]
Observers / Observateurs
DAVIES, Don [Mr]
DOWNE, Percy [Mr]
ELALOUF, Elie [M.]
LARIOS CÓRDOVA, Héctor [Mr]
MALTAIS, Ghislain [M.]
O’CONNELL, Jennifer [Ms]
OLIVER, John [Mr]
ROMO MEDINA, Miguel [Mr]
TILSON, David [Mr]
Partners for democracy / Partenaires pour la démocratie
ALQAWASMI, Sahar [Ms]
AMRAOUI, Allal [M.]
KHADER, Qais [Mr]
SABELLA, Bernard [Mr]
Representatives of the Turkish Cypriot Community (In accordance to Resolution 1376 (2004) of
the Parliamentary Assembly)/ Représentants de la communauté chypriote turque
(Conformément à la Résolution 1376 (2004) de l’Assemblée parlementaire)