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Pagina principale arrow In Brief arrow CoE Human Rights Commissioner Muizinieks: Protect Journalists from Attacks to Muzzle on Issues !

CoE Human Rights Commissioner Muizinieks: Protect Journalists from Attacks to Muzzle on Issues !

Scritto da ACM
Tuesday, 05 June 2012
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* "Journalists need Protection" from various "Attacks", "including in Europe",  seeking "Censorship" against "Democracy", strongly declared the New PanEuropean Commissioner on Human Rights, Niels Muiznieks (2012-2018), just a few days after he replied to "EuroFora"s questions Internet Media Freedom and ECHR's Future (See: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coehumanrightscommissioneronwebmedia.html ), and the same Day that CoE's Committee of Ministers just started in Strasbourg to examine a crucial Semestrial meeting on ECHR judgements' application by all 47 Member States, including a review of numerous serious cases of Violations of Human Rights by Turkey (such as Torture, Murders, Arbitrary deprivations of Liberty, abusive Imprisonment, Harassments and/or Censorship,  "Missing" People, etc, most Dating since the 1990ies, but partly "freezed" since 2009), notoriously pending for execution since too many years,  in an interesting, well documented Viewpoint that "EuroFora" exceptionaly re-publishes, at variance to our general rule on Original only Journalism in News Reporting.

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- The "intention" generaly is "to Shut them up and make them Stop doing their job, which can involve exposing Corruption, Abuse of power or Discrimination against various minorities. Media freedom is the lifeblood of a Democracy, as it is an essential prerequisite for other Freedoms as well, such as freedom of association or assembly", he denounced.


- Because "attacks on journalists are not like many other assaults, where the motive is frequently materialistic or racism. These are Political Attacks. As the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic´, has recently written, “violence against journalists [..] remains a Special category of Crime, as it is a direct attack on Society and Democracy itself”.

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- That's why, all CoE's Member "States have a positive obligation to create a favourable environment for journalists to express their opinions without fear, no matter how uncomfortable those opinions may sometimes be to those with economic, cultural or political power", Muisnieks made it clear, citing the landmark "Dink v. Turkey judgment of the European Court of Human Rights", condemning Ankara on the ill-elucidated cold blood Murder of Armenian origin Web and paper Journalist Hrant Dink, (Comp. "EuroFora"s specific NewsReport on Dink's case at the ECHR, published since October 2010).


=> Therefore, "Governments and politicians need to signal very strongly that such Attacks are unacceptable and will not go unpunished. They need to initiate prompt, thorough and transparent Investigations and bring perpetrators to justice, where punishments should reflect the seriousness of this crime. If journalists have been threatened, the authorities should act quickly to protect them", CoE's New Human Rights Commissioner (2012-2018) stressed.


- Since, "even if a government does not engage in “old-fashioned” Censorship by screening and filtering media content, it can be involved in censorship if it does not take sufficient steps to combat violence against journalists. Impunity encourages repetition, which can be extremely damaging to free expression", he warned. For this reason, "a recent guidebook on the safety of journalists by the OSCE ... stresse(s) that “physical attacks and Threats of violence or Harm against journalists and members of their Family represent an extreme form of Censorship”.

- Indeed, "Journalism is a Dangerous profession, including in Europe", CoE's New PanEuropean Commissioner on Human Rights, responsible for 47 Countries, found on June 2012 :


 - Among many other, older examples, only "since the beginning of this year (2012), journalists have suffered physical Attacks in Azerbaijan on a number of occasions, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Latvia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania and Russia.. ..What were these journalist-victims reporting on? In Azerbaijan, the story was the demolition of houses and evictions of residents for government sponsored urban redevelopment. In Romania and Russia, it was anti-government demonstrations. In France and Germany, it was Turkish-language media outlets reporting on the Kurdish minority in Turkey. In Italy, it was stories focusing on Mafia affairs. In Montenegro, it was a journalist probing shady dealings in a tobacco plant", (etc), he noted, pointing at the Diversity of "Hot" issues which may be covered by certain Media.


 - "Often, the perpetrators of the attacks are unknown assailants, usually several masked men, but sometimes they have been riot police or state sponsored security guards". But  "the attackers knew that their victims were journalists, who were sometimes wearing press badges or held cameras in their hands. In another case, the perpetrators mentioned the employer of the journalist as they beat him. In Latvia, in a brutally symbolic move, the assailants put a knife in the journalist’s mouth and sliced his cheek, grossly disfiguring him", he denounced.


- "A 1st Step is for Governments to treat violence targeting journalists as attacks against the core of our Democracies", and, therefore, "with the utmost Seriousness", Muiznieks urged.


- Because, f.ex.,  "those of us who witnessed the end of the Soviet Union remember well how glasnost’ or increased openness and Media liberalisation opened the floodgates for the emergence of Civil Society and political Pluralism" in Russia, he observed the Baltic-origin experienced European Top Official, as a Positive Change regarding Human Rights and Democracy, to be further developed and followed also elsewhere, mutatis-mutandis.

***

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They voted to "freeze" UK Government's draft to put People in jail for 42 Days on "anti-terrorist" suspicion without charge, or they abstained. Don't they look suspect ?
-------------------------

CoE's debate on UK controversy stirs PanEuropean check of anti-terror suspects' imprisonment

Former Leftists of the Sixties would boil in hot water if they heard PACE's debate on the controversial 42 days detention without charge, currently drafted by the British Government :

A "Socialist" Government, a Socialist PACE Rapporteur and a Socialist Chair of PACE's Legal Committee, opposed a .. "Conservative" amendment (supported by .. Liberals, Democrats, etc), to freeze the measure, in order to protect Citizens' Freedom, by "waiting" until CoE's Venice Committee checks its conformity with Human Rights' principles.

"Left"'s support to Conservative-Lib.Dem's criticism, wasn't enough to obtain a majority, nor to make things as they were back in the good old days, when "Left" and "Right" had a clear meaning, as "liberty" and "restrictions"...

Conservatives and most Democrats were joined by the Left in voting for the "freeze", as well as Liberal Paul Rowen, while Socialist MEP Ivan Popescu, an experienced MEP from Ukraine (PACE Member since 1996-2008) abstained. But most Socialists, added to a few Liberals and EPP's Right, voted against.

Fortunately, someone inside PACE had the wise idea to shorten the Debate for less than 1 Hour, and put it on the Agenda only at the end of an exceptionally busy day, towards the end of the Evening, when most MEPs had already gone to taste wins and foods at various Receptions all around Strasbourg's "European" area : As a result, not even 42 MEPs weren't present..

Socialist Lord Tomlinson accused the leaders of the PanEuropean Assembly, in its highest body : the "Bureau", to "lack wisdom" by deciding to hold a Debate on an issue that neither the Socialist Chair of the Legal Committee, nor its Socialist "reluctant Rapporteur", did "not want to do", ...

tomllinson

Finally, everybody (critics and supporters alike) was happy to agree, in substance, that the controversial measure "may" gravely violate Human Rights, and therefore, PACE asked Legal Experts of Venice Commission to check UK Government''s plans.

But this might take more than .. 42 Days to do, since PACE's Rapporteur asked the Experts to enlarge their study in a PanEuropean comparison of all that is happening on "anti-terrorism" legislation in 47 CoE Member Countries, including Russia, Turkey and Azerbaidjan..

Bad lack : "The existing 28 days’ detention without charge in the UK is, in comparison with other CoE member countries, one of the most extreme : In Turkey, the period is 7,5 days, in France 6 days, in Russia 5 days, and in .. the U.S. and Canada just 2 and 1 days respectively", denounced Democrat MEP Ms WOLDSETH from Norway..

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"Numerous respected human rights organisations, including Liberty and Human Rights Watch, have expressed serious concern" "The proposed legislation ...could easily lead to extensive abuses. ...Detention for 42 days means six weeks in which one is taken away from one’s family, friends, home and livelihood only to be let off without being charged. That will destroy lives and isolate communities", she added.

- "3 years ago, the UK Government sought to increase the period of pre-charge detention from 14 days to 90 days. Not long before that, it had been only 7 days. There was a vigorous debate ...and a ...compromise was reached of 28 days. We have to ask whether there are proper safeguards in place to extend the period to 42 days. I suggest that there are fatal flaws", reminded British Conservative Clappison.

- "What sort of society holds someone in detention for 42 days and does not have to tell the person who is in prison why they are there, or explain the suspicions that arose and led to their detention? What sort of society believes that that is the way to treat its citizens? That is an appalling injustice, ...A 42-day detention period will not make the UK safer. Instead, it will be the first step to giving in to terrorists; it is saying that we are prepared to sacrifice our democratic rights and the principles for which we have stood for centuries", criticized British Liberal Michael Hanckock

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"Comments made ...by Norwegian delegates are unfortunate", replied British Socialist MEP Ms.Curtis-Thomas, accusing them to "besmirch the reputation of our police force, which is one of the Best in the World", as she said, believing that "there are significant safeguards ...to ensure that individuals are not subjected to unlawful detention"

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PACE "has serious doubts whether ...the draft legislation are in conformity with the ...case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. A lack of ..safeguards may lead to arbitrariness, resulting in breaches of ... liberty and ...right to a fair trial". PACE "is particularly concerned that: ..the judge ..may not be in a position to examine whether there exist reasonable grounds for suspecting that the arrested person has committed an offence;"; that "... representation by a lawyer may be inappropriately restricted or delayed;" that "information on the grounds for suspicion of a person ...may be unduly withheld.. ;" that this "may give rise to arrests without the intention to charge;", and; in general, that "prolonged detention without proper information on the grounds for arrest may constitute inhuman treatment", says Klaus De Vries' Report, adopted with 29 votes against zero.

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Records don't say if it took him 42 Days to draft his Report, but, at least, he knew why...

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2009 EU Elections were won by Parties against Technocracy and Turkey's controversial EU bid, while the 1999-2004 Majority Abstention trend decelerated. What should be done in 2009-2014 ?

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