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Home arrow newsitems arrow COE+OSCE Leaders v. Human Trafficking to Eurofora on 10 Years Experience (2008-2018)+the Way Forward

COE+OSCE Leaders v. Human Trafficking to Eurofora on 10 Years Experience (2008-2018)+the Way Forward

Pisac ACM
22. 05. 2018.

 

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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- On the Occasion of a well attended, 2 Days-Long, International Conference on Stock-Taking of 10 Years in Fighting versus Human Trafficking and Abuse, the Leaders of PanEuropean CoE's (47 States, incl. Russia+)) and Euro-Atlantic OSCE (57 States, incl. USA+) Organisations' activities in that area of Growing Importance during Recent Conflicts and other Crisis around Europe, stressed to "Eurofora" what they Believe to be the Main Challenges and Priorities Nowadays and in the foreseeable Future :

 

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 - The New President of CoE's Watchdog, composed by Independent Experts checking the Implementation of the relevant PanEuropean Convention against Trafficking in Human Beings ("GRETA"), Irish Jurist Mrs Siobhan Mullally, speaking to "Eurofora", stressed, in Substance, that, among the 3 main Practical Objectives : Prevention, Protection of Victims, and Punishment of Traffickers and/or those who Exploit such Crimes, what has Become more Urgent, Nowadays, is, in Fact, "Prevention".

 

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- Particularly, since the Recent Socio-Economic Crisis and Waves of various Displaced People towards Europe include also Many Children, as she noted, pointing at an Issue that GRETA has Just Examined also in a Special Research on "Trafficking in Children", which was Published this May 2018.

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Significantly, 4 out of 5 Categories of Child Trafficking Risks, affect mostly European Children, such as, f.ex., "Not Registration at Birth", Children "in Street", "Placed in Institutions", and/or "from Disadvantaged Communities". Recently emerged also the Issue of "Unaccompanied or Separated" and "Irregular Migrant" Children. Between 2012-2015, Most of them, in Absolute terms, were Found in the UK (almost 2.500) and Romania (about 1.300). But in Percentage among All Various Victims of Human Trafficking, Children representred the Biggest Proportion of around the Half in Montenegro, Croatia and Albania, (53%, 51% and 43%), while they were, on the Contrary, Only a Small Minority in Cyprua and Austria, Denmark and Georgia, as well as in Slovakia, (3%, 4%, 5%, 5%, and 8%, respectively).


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- However, for the even Wider view of Euro-Atlantic OSCE's Special Representative and Coordinator against Human Trafficking, Ambassador Madina Jarbussynova from Kazakstan, Speaking to "Eurofora", stressed, in Substance, that, considering "Both Pan'European and UNO's" recent Data, what is currently Lacking most of all in the International Fight against Traffickingt of Human Beings was Efficient Persecution of those Responsible for such Crimes, in order to Bring them to Justice, to Fight Impunity.


+ In order to Strengthen the Efficiency of that Fight, CoE, OSCE and the UN need to Work Together, inter alia, also, particularly in order to Target, around the World, those "Chains of Supplies", which Exploit Forced Labour resulting from Human Trafficking, the OSCE's competent Senior Official also pointed out earlier, (See Infra).


- She had just, actively Participated in a Special Panel Discussion, explicitly Focused on current efforts for "Building Strategic Partnerships", together with a Representative of the "Organisation of American States" (OAS), and Other Key Experts, (See Infra).


-  Significantly, that Panel, obviously Important for the foreseeable Future, had been attended also by CoE's Director on Anti-Trafficking, Perya Nestorova, who Spoke to "Eurofora" both Before and After that Meeting :

 

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- Experienced Anti-Trafficking CEO Nestorova, who was the main Organiser, in practice, of this exceptional International Conference attended by about 150 Experts for the 10th Anniversary of CoE's relevant Convention (2008-2018), while speaking to "Eurofora", spontaneously Chose to Focus, indeed, on the Need for International Cooperation in the Fight against Trafficking of Human Beings : In this regard, she Regretted the Absence of an EU Representative, who had been Invited, and the Obstacles (by Lack of due Visa on Time) for a Representative of African Countries to arrive Timely in Strasbourg,  as well that of an ASEAN's Expert (despite a New CoE-ASEAN "Comparison" Study, just Published on this May 2018), that she found certainly Useful to Associate in the foreseable Future. But she Hailed the Active Presence of Both the OSCE's and OAS' Senior Officials.

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=> Nestorova revealed to "Eurofora", in this regard, that Tomorrow, on Wednesday, 23 of May, CoE organizes, indeed, an Exceptionaly Important Meeting with "National Coordinators" from Member States' Governments, as well as the OSCE's competent Representative, Kazak Ambassador Jarbussynova, (Comp. Supra), which will work behind closed doors because of the Sensitive character of those Issues, in order to Discuss and Decide on a Series of Practical Measures that they all intend to take, in closer Cooperation, in order to Better Face the Challenges already witnessed in the Past 10 Years, until Now, as well as to Forge a common Strategy Facilitating to Advance Forward Together in the Foreseeable Future, taking into account also the Latest relevant Developments, (especially in and/or around Europe).

 

+ Meanwhile, OAS' Representative, Anna Ochoa, had reminded (during the above-mentioned Special "Panel" on "Partnerships" : Comp. Supra + Infra), that the American States have explicitly Decided to Launch a systematic Anti-Trafficking Policy Later than Europe : mainly Since 2014. But, despite the participation, in principle, of more than 20 States, (including also the Caraibes), nevertheless, a Problem still was, f.ex., that Judicial Cooperation on that matter had Not yet been Established, except from 4 ou 5 interLinked Countries, including the USA, etc. However, Better Perspectives were Expected for the Recent Launch of a "Knowledge" Network in that area of activities, Starting from March 2018, (etc).

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>>> On the Contrary, for the European States, there are Clear Rules at CoE's Anti-Trafficking Convention, about what they should do, But, it seems that there is, until now, a real "Problem of Implementation", particularly as far as it concerns the necessary "Investigations" about Traffickers, observed British Ambassador/Permanent Representative to the CoE, Christoper Yvon, who is President of the "Committee of the (State) Parties", Monitoring how those Rules are Applied in real Practice.

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 - However, according to ECHR's Case-Law,  there is even a Legal Responsibility for COE's Member States to Take at least certain elementary Measures of Anti-Trafficking, because, Otherwise, they Risk to be Found "Accountable" for Human Rights' Violations, Warned CoE's Director-General on Democracy, Snezana Samardzic - Markovic, right from the Beginning of this Conference.

 

                                                          

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 -She pointed at ECHR's vice-President, Linos-Alexander Sicilianos, who Explained that, according to the Case-Law developed by Euro-Judges, States have a "Positive Obligation" to Take Certain relevant Measures, (as, f.ex., to "Criminalize" the Trafficking of Human Beings, etc), flowing from the PanEuropean Convention of Human Rights' Article 4, on "¨Prohibition of Slavery, and Forced Labour", which include Prevention, Help^to Victims, and Judicial Enquiries in order to find and punish those responsible for such Crimes, (as it results, f.ex., by the Famous case of "Rantseva v. Cyprus and Russia" : the Death of a Russian Girl in Cyprus, after she Tried to Escape from Pressure to become a Prostitute, but also from 2 Other Cases concerning Greece, etc, as he noted). Moreover, "from 2017", the ECHR started to make even Explicit and Direct References to "GRETA"s Findings and/or Recommendations, thereby creating "Synergy".


But the Most Moving Event was, unquestionably, that of a Session dedicated to the original Testimonies of Victims who "Survived" Human Trafficking, and Described their traumatic Personal Experience :


- According to Spanish Social Worker Branna Noelle-Hodge, Many Victims "look like Machines", who don't Turst Nobody, and/or "they Lie", staying "under Constant Fear", in a "UnStable Situation", "Threatened to be Send to anOther Country", etc. Often we give them Phones and Numbers to call 7/7 and 24/24, she said.

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- But things appeared quite Different, with Young Yazidi Woman Farida Abbas Khalaf, a Survivor and Rescapee from  4 Months of Captivity by ISIS' Deadly Islamist Terrorists, cowardly Targetting defenseless, innocent Civilian People, at Iraq :  - "Don't let our Abusers get Away with their Crimes !", she urged from the outset.


- Most ISIS' Attacks started from 2014 to Spread at Iraq their Atrocities, which intended to commit a Genocide, by Destroying us, as Yazidi Minority : They Targetted Women and Girls with Rape, Torture, Humiliations, using Sexual Slavery as a Weapon to Destroy our Community, she Denounced. I still live that Tragedy, and I Fell this Scar will Never Disappear. ISIS Killed by Father and Brother, Captured my Mother, and held me in Captivity for 4 Months, submitted to Physical and Mental ill-treatments. Still more than 3.200 Women are in Captivity or Missing nowadays, and many Christians, etc. have been Taken Away from Syria to Iraq", she Denounced. 

- "But Nobody has been yet Prosecuted for all those Crimes ! Not Any of those ISIS' Criminals Arrested, Investigated and Punished. If they Return to Europe, they should Face Justice : Jihadis Returning to Europe should Face Real Justice !", she urged.


 => CoE should call for Support to People victims of Genocide attempts, for ReConstruction of Homes and Infrastructures Destroyed, and to practice Open Doors for Real Refugees who Face Genocide, she added.
+ In Addition,  "People of AFRIN (Syria's Kurdish Canton recently Invaded and Occupied by Turkey's Military Troops and various Jihadist Armed Gangs) all lie in Constant Fear : CoE should adopt a Resolution to Help them against Pressure from Radical Groups", the fragile Yazidi Woman urged Today.


(See also Statements of Award-Winning and Book Writer Yazidi Woman Survivor of ISIS, Farida Abbas-Khalaf to "Eurofora", later-on, at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/yazidiwomanisissurvivoraskstohelpafrin.html).
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- Speaking Afterwards, on the sidelines of one among the 4 Different "Panels" of Experts set up by this CoE's International Conference, Greece's National Rapporteur on Trafficking of Human Beings, Dr. Heracles Moskoff, stressed to "Eurofora" that, in order to Succeed in the necessary Fight against Impunity, "Victims must be Protected" : Because it's Only Then that they Can bring Testimonies, and bear Witness against Criminals, as he observed.  

 

He couldn't explain, however, how is it possible for more than 1,5 Millions of Mass Asylum Seekers/Irregular Migrants to suddenly enter Europe via Greece through Turkey, already on 2015-2016, without practically anyone to have been arrested for Human Trafficking : - "Even if Smuggling is not the same thing as Trafficking, nevertheless, that Question remains open, since it seems that the Gravity of that Danger had not yet been fully perceived by Law Enforcement Authorities in Europe", Dr. Moskoff agreed with "Eurofora".

 

 But the above-mentioned Role of Victims became Key in the Panel Focused on "Criminal Justice Efficiency", whose Conclusions were presented by Rapporteur Rita Theodorou, GRETA Member from Cyprus:

 

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- Indeed,  Human Trafficking's Victims, abused as "Slaves" and "Disposable Commodities", are Nowadays often lurred and traped by "Softer Methods", including, f.ex., "Promises for a Better Life", she pointed out.

 

=> Thus, sometimes, they "Suddenly Refuse to Cooperate" with Law Enforcement Authorities, "or Lie", etc., may be Because "they are Afraid" and/or "Tired and Lost", etc., she regretted.

 

-  In such cases, recalcitrant Victims should Not be Prosecuted, because, then, they won't cooperate at all, GRETA Expert Theodossiou advised. On the Contrary, Victims should be provided Support, (f.ex. by Legal Aid,  Social Measures, Financial incitations, etc).

 - Even if the Investigations would Not have to Wait for Victims to come out, before doing anything, but, on the contrary, try to Advance also by any other possible means, including, f.ex., International Cooperation, which has Not yet been Used enough, she suggested.

 

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 + But, in Other Cases, the Experienced Dutch National Rapporteur on Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children, former Long-Time Attorney General of the Netherlands, Herman Bolhaar, (who participated at a Panel on "Strategic Partnerships"), revealed a Troubling Reality :


- During Many Years, Police had been Arresting several "Minors" mainly for Stealing, etc, but was routinely led to Let them Free to Go, afterwards, particularly because of their Age, etc. However, most of them used to Commit again and again such Offences, so that they were Coming and Going through Police and Courts for Endless Years, without any clear Horizon in view, he described.


- Suddenly, However, anOther Police Specialist, with Wider Experience, Suspected that "a Criminal Organisation was Behind" those "Children", "Minor Offenders, which were also Victims of Trafficking", the Dutch Expert pointed out. And, Indeed, an Efficient Investigation in that Direction, led the Police to Discover a Wide Organized Plot by Criminals, who had been Exploiting those Minors in order to systematically Commit a Great Number of Offences, without being ever exposed or cought themselves, since they were always Hidding Behind the scene
...


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+ Meanwhile, anOther, quite UnExpected Stimulus for a Better Implementation of CoE's Anti-Trafficking Convention, appeared to be the "Name and Shame" Policy against "Clients" Expoiting Human Trafficking's Victims, which Resulted into inciting Many Big Businesses to Seek some kind of "Ethical Certificates" for their Products and/or Services, showing that they Respect Basic Human Rights of their Workers throughout all the Supply Chains, (See relevant "Eurofora"s NewsReport, at : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/bigbusinessandcoevhumantraffiking.html).



(../..)



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(NDLR : "DraftNews", as already send, Earlier, to "Eurofora" Subscribers/Donors. A more accurate, full Final Version, might be published asap)

 

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People in Europe and the World expect from CoE to make a succes of its "Monitoring" for Human Rights and Democracy, despite difficulties, said Finland's President Tarja Halonen to "EuroFora" at a crucial moment for the mecanism built 15 years ago by the paneuropean organization which celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2009.

Halonen, known as "Mother" of CoE's "Monitoring" mecanism, a long-time MEP and former Foreign Minister before becoming Finland's President, holds a long experience in the mattter, after also serving twice as CoE and EU Chairwoman in the past. That's why she is well placed to judge how CoE's "monitoring" should deal today with some crucial issues of importance both to CoE and to the EU.

The move came just a Month before a crucial, last visit to Turkey, scheduled for June, by the President of CoE''s "Monitoring" Committee, Ukranian MEP Serge Holovaty, to finalize his Report on Ankara, the CoE Member State with the longest Monitoring procedure. From its results depends its overall credibility.

This is a Test-case, because, in fact, it's in order to avoid Sanctions threatened against Turkey by a CoE's Assembly's April 1995 Resolution for grave Human Rights violations, Democracy gaps, the continuing Military Occupation in Cyprus, the unresolved Kurdish problem, Aegean differend with Greece, etc., that MEPs decided to create, for the 1st time on April 1996, a "Monitoring" proces, allegedly destinated to check, without excluding Countries who did not fulfill all CoE's standards.

In the Past, the obliged withdrawal of Greece's Military regime and of its "Civil" cover-up out of the CoE had helped bring back Democracy in 1974. But, on the contrary, since April 1996, the idea was to "monitor" Human Rights' respect while keeping most concerned Countries inside the CoE. After Turkey's oldest example, this was extended also to several former "Eastern" European Countries, even if CoE's Assembly has imposed to some of them (fex. Ukraine, Russia, etc., after Belarus, Serbia, etc) various "Sanctions", that Ankara always avoided. Curiously more succesful even than .. USA itself, (a CoE "Observer" since 1995), which has been at least threatened with sanctions some years ago..

EU-effects of CoE's Monitoring process became obvious between 2001-2008, since the "closure" of this procedure, when CoE felt that a Country had met most of its Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law obligations, (i.e. the "Copenhagen Criteria" for the EU), helped trigger Negotiations with the EU for "Accession" or other closer relations : This occured already before the 2004 and 2007 EU Enlargements to former "Eastern" European Countries, as well as for the commencement of "accession" negotiations with Croatia, and of "open-ended" negotiations with Turkey in 2005.

    But a stricking new development are Holovaty's recent findings that on core Human Rights issues as Torture and Freedom of Expression, Turkey, even "5 Years after" CoE closed its "Monitoring", back in 2004, inciting EU to start accession Negotiations in 2005, still presents grave problems.

    His findings are of crucial importance after a 2008 CoE Resolution called, "if need be", to "seriously consider the possibility of Re-Opening the Monitoring procedure for Turkey" : A move which might affect Ankara's controversial EU bid, since EU Accession Negotiations are based on the Hypothesis that the Candidate fullfils the "Copenhagen Criteria" (See above)..
-------------------------
    Holovaty expressed his will to check  "Matters still Outstanding" and  those that he "didn't have an opportunity to discuss" at an earlier visit this year, "in order to discuss the more complex issues in greater depth", at his forthcoming New Visit to Ankara, before the December 2009 EU Summit.  This is all based on the 2004 CoE Resolution which stresses that, CoE "will continue.. post-monitoring Dialogue with the Turkish authorities,...in addition to a 12-points list,..and on any Other Matter that might arise in connection with Turkey’s Obligations as a CoE member state".

    CoE's Resolution also asks  from Turkey "to secure the proper Implementation of Judgements, particularly in the Cyprus v. Turkey InterState case", of 2001, which concerns also the plight of many Hundreds of MISSING People. It adds Turkey's obligations to "execute" ECHR's Judgements in the Loizidou case,..and in particular adopt General Measures to avoid repetition or continuation of Violations found by the Court" to the detriment of Refugees.

    Nevertheless, Holovaty said to "EuroFora" that "MISSING" persons,"might be included" and cannot be excluded, but he has yet to examine the situation "to find out  which issues will be raised" to the Turkish Government.

    Therefore, "EuroFora" asked Halonen, as the Historic "Mother" of CoE's Monitoring mecanism, if she thought that, "whenever there are grave Human Rights Violations, as fex. "MISSING" persons, attested even by ECHR's judgements, they should be always checked by a Monitoring process. Or could they be forgotten ?"
    
     - "We (CoE) must be, at the same time, Fair, Realistic, but not in the mind that "now we have Forgotten", etc., replied to "EuroFora"'s question Halonen, speaking as a matter of general principle.

    - "When we think of those People that are suffering from the lack of Democracy, of Human Rights, and of the Rule of Law", "we should find a base on how to deal with the (Monitoring) system more rapidly"', she stressed.

    - "Sometimes it's very difficult to combine Transparency and Effectivenes together, particularly in this specific case", she went on to say. But, "I have not found a (CoE Member) Country who could be insensitive in this sens", Halonen answered concerning grave Human Rights violations attested by the ECHR.

    - "I have no ready-made answer. I have the expectations that you, in the CoE, will, step by step, find the different types of the monitoring systems."

    Also "because this is a part of the UN's Post-Conflict system, (fex. when it comes to Cyprus' MISSING persons), and it's a more Global system". So that, "If we make a succes in Europe, the others will follow", throughout the World.  "But they expect that we (Europe) are this opportunity, this Opportunity to make a Succes", Halonen concluded.

    In addition, she advised to extend CoE's Monitoring to all its 47 Member States, "because, as long as we hear that, all these monitoring systems are "OK for the neighbor, but not for me", "it's very difficult" to understand. Something which could make easier to Compare...

    Finnish MEP Jaako Laakso, former CoE Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories of Cyprus and one of the 5 Signatories of the Historic CoE's call to create the "MONITORING" mecanism since 1996, was more specific :  - "We (CoE Assembly) have to find a way for the issue of Cyprus' MISSING People to be better followed", he stressed, anouncing his intention to "speak to Mr. Holovaty" about that. "There might be also other ways", added Laakso.

    - The 2008 "Year had been a very Bad one for Turkey with regard to Human Rights in general, and Freedom of Expression in particular", denounced, meanwhile, Holovaty's preliminary Post-Monitoringh Draft Report by Holovaty, published by the CoE on April 2009.

    "Amnesty International believes that freedom of expression is not guaranteed given the various articles of the Criminal Code that restrict it. .. "For example, 1,300 Websites are said to have been closed down by the (Turkish) authorities in 2008" ! While "the new Turkish Criminal Code was used to bring a total of 1,072 proceedings between June 2005 and April 2008, and led to the conviction of 192 people", for expressing views. "Representatives of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, which specialises in Kurdish affairs, ..complained about Numerous Attacks on their Freedom of Expression ...as was everyone who advocated a settlement to the question by means other than the intervention of the army" "According to their figures, 19 Newspapers had been suspended 43 times between 4 August 2006 and 4 November 2008" !...

    Moreover, on 2008,  CoE's "Ministers adopted its 4rth Resolution on the execution of the judgments of the ECHR, ...and outstanding issues regarding 175 Judgements and decisions relating to Turkey delivered between 1996 and 2008...  concerning Deaths resulting from the excessive use of force by members of the Security forces, the failure to protect the right to life, the DIisappearance and/or death of individuals, Ill-Treatment and the Destruction of property". CoE's " Ministers urged the Turkish authorities ...to ensure that members of Security forces of all ranks can be prosecuted without administrative
authorisation" for "serious crimes". Holovaty reminded.

"Nonetheless", Holovaty heard anew of "Several cases of Violence committed last year (2008) by the (Turkish) security forces". Amnesty International speaks of Many Cases of ill-treatment and Torture in the prisons and by the police". "Including, fex."'the death of Engin Ceber, a young man of 29 who died on October 2008 as a result of the TORTURE allegedly inflicted on him by police officers, prison staff and members of the gendarmerie. He was part of a group of people arrested on September 2008 during a demonstration and Press Conference in Istanbul'. Proceedings against suspects are "on-going" in this case.

- " I therefore noted an Obvious Contradiction between the Government’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.... of Torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and the different testimonies given", denounced CoE's Rapporteur.  Turkish "authorities must make considerable efforts to guarantee that proper investigations are carried out into allegations of abuses by members of the security forces and that perpetrators are effectively punished" "In this respect, I have requested detailed Statistics on the number of Investigations, acquittals and convictions in cases involving allegations of abuse in order to show the positive impact of the measures taken to date", Holovaty said, repeating a permanently unsatisfied CoE's demand to Turkey since a Decade...

    - "The Political Crisis that shook the country in the spring of 2008 highlighted the Weaknesses of the (Turkish) Constitution", which comes from the Military regime of 1982, "and the Urgent Need of Reforms", stressed from the outset CoE's Rapporteur in 2009. In particular, "the ...Democratic functioning of state institutions, including the independence of the judicial system, are crucial", he observes.

    But, "the Electoral  system and the ways in which it is circumvented do not appear to give those elected complete Legitimacy, and tend to pervert the course of direct universal suffrage", denounces Holovaty, observing that, even 5 Years later, Turkey did not yet change the 10% nationwide Threshold for a party to take any seat, which is "far higher" than the "3%" maximum in Europe and already condemned as contrary to European Standards by the CoE.

    + Moreover, EU Parliament's 2009 Report on Turkey, drafted by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten and adopted in Strasbourg on March, expresses "Concern over the Failure of the (Turkish) Judiciary to prosecute cases of Torture and Ill-treatment, the Number of which is Growing". EU also "is concerned about continuing Hostility and Violence against Minorities" in Turkey. It also "calls on the Turkish Government to launch, as a matter of Priority, a Political Initiatve favouring a lasting Settlement of the Kurdish issue, (while "condemning violence.. and terrorist groups"). EU "regrets that No progress has been made on establishing full, systematic Civilian suprevisory functions over the (Turkish) Military".

    The final results of Holovaty's 2nd and last visit to Turkley will be known later this year, and, at any case, before EU's December 2009 Summit.

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