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Pagina principale arrow newsitems arrow All CoE Leaders' 1st Debate on Human Rights in Pandemic, eyes Values, Fragile People, Digital+Future

All CoE Leaders' 1st Debate on Human Rights in Pandemic, eyes Values, Fragile People, Digital+Future

Scritto da ACM
Wednesday, 03 June 2020
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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/-
The 1st Ever Conference of All CoE Bodies' Heads, (representing Key Actors, such as Ministers, Parliamentarians, EudoJudges, Local/Regional Authorities and NGOs, as well as Norms on Human Rights, Constitutional Democracy, Children Protection, Anti-Torture, Anti-Discrimination, Social, etc), Organized on the Virus' Crisis and Human Rights/Democracy, by the 2020 Greek Presidency of the 47 Member-States' PanEuropean Instituton (May-November 2020), represented by Alt. Foreign Minister Miltiadis Varvisiotis, and Opened Together with COE' new Secretary General Marija Buric, (all via Video Web Links),

pointed Both on Stressing and Clarifying Basic Principles, Warning of the Need to Protect particularly DisAdvantaged/Fragile People, And, Also, on relevant Innovations, extended to a forthcoming Recovery period, and Future Pandemics.

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- Indeed, Varvitsiotis, (who represented CoE Member States' Governments through its Committee of Ministers, as its President-in-Office, but also an Experienced former LongTime MEP at COE's Assembly, recently elected vice-President of its Biggest Political Group, that of ChristianDemocrats/EPP - See various Varvitsiotis' Statements at "Eurofora", f.ex., at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/greekcoepresidency2020.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newgreekagendaforcoechair2020.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/ministeroncoepresidencyandturkey.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/futurecoechairgreekministervarvitsiotisstrengthenvoice.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/austrianeupresidencyonfrontexinaegean.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/irish/euidentity.html, etc), Stressed from the Outset that "Human Life is Above Everything", and observed that the "Extension of Life", Achieved in Modern Societies, "is Exactly what is mainly Threatened by the COVID-19" Virus, nowadays.

- But, at the same time, it would be "UnAcceptable", if some, "Driven by Fear", might, eventually, push to sacrifice "Human Rights and Democracy'"s principles, he Denounced, Warning, f.ex., that this would "Not Justify", particularly, to Curb "Free Expression !". While some Children can't even Access the Internet yet", he criticized.

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- Speaking near Acropolis' Cliff, he reminded that, 2,5 Thousands of Years Before, Athens had Lost about 1/3 of its Population by an Epidemic, but even this did not manage to destroy Democracy and Civilisation. And, after Pointing at "a Spring's Storm", as he said, at the Forest of that Historic Cliff, Varvitsiotis observed, Later-on, that "the Sun came back" at the Landscape, inciting several spontaneous Smiles, (starting by that of COE's SG)...  

- However, this Deadly Virus "has Not yet gone Away", he noted Soberly, as Europe still has the Biggest Total Number of Deaths in the World, (while, notoriously, Bill Gates and several Key Bio-Tech Scientists Claim that even More and Worse Virus' Pandemics might be Comming, somewhere in the Future). That's why Today's Discussion practicaly Opens the Preparations, inside COE, for a Comprehensive, Draft Official Declaration of its Committee of Ministers on Human Rights in periods of Pandemics, scheduled for the forthcoming Summit, foreseen on November 4, in Athens, if the Virus' situation would allow it, he observed.

- At any case, if Greece succeeded, until now, to have a Fairly Low, Comparatively, Number of Infections and Deaths by the Virus, its Not Only Because it Always hears what Scientists have to say, but Also, particulaly, Because the Public Authorities have managed to "Build the Trust of the People" on that issue, which "Helped Flatten (the Virus') Curve", Varvitsiotis anew stressed, (See also Infra).

    Indeed, according to the Latest Polls, if the current "New Democracy" (ChristianDemocrat/E¨PP) Government reportedly has about 42,5% of Positive opinions among Citizens, Compared to 23% for the Opposition of "Syriza", and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis attracts 50% of Citizens, compared to 24% by Opposition's Leader Alexis Tsipras, Followed by 54% of Positive Views for its Economic Policy, against Only 37%, Nevertheless, it's with a ... Spectacular 75%, (Versus Only 19% Unsatisfied), that Citizens Approve, until Now, its Measures Against the Virus, (while the relevant Scientific Committee's work, Presented by popular Professor Tsiodras Sky-Rockets with 79% against 16% ! -See "Eurofora"s Report on his Speech in a COE's New Series of Video-Conferences, at : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coedebatebackshcqversusvirus.html, etc).

Considering that, on the Contrary, in Most Other Countries in Europe and the World, People reportedly are rather Critical vis a vis various Governments' Policies on the Virus, Often Controversial, Obviously, those Facts in Greece would be Usefully Examined by the CoE, (on the occasion, f.ex., of the "Innovations" Caregorie : See Infra).

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    The Issue of Pandemics and Human Rights/Democracy, is of Crucial Importance Nowadays, since, Obviously, if anyone might seek to slyly Impose a quasi-Dictatorial Regime for a period, he would Easily search a Pretext in the Scare provoked by a Deadly Virus and/or Other Life-Threatening Crisis, eventually even provoked and/or exagerated. But, at the same time, Whoever might seek to Delay, Disrupt, Deviate or Block Urgently Needed, Drastic Measures, Able to Rapidy and Efficiency Save Many Peuple's Lives in front of a Massively Life-Threatening Risk, then, it's also Obvious that he might find a way to Undermine that by Multiplying Fake and/or Exagerated Claims of so-called "Rights' Violations", Fakely alleged Rule of Law disruptions, etc., in order to provoke a awfull lot of precious Time and Energy consuming Diversions. So that, Naturally, a Well Balanced, Fearless and Intelligent, Delicate Approach is Needed here, in order to make sure to Find the Right Solutions.

_____________________

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    * CoE's new Secretary General, Marija Buric, former vice-Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Croatia, (See various Buric Statements to "Eurofora", f.ex., at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coesgburiconechrbioethicsinterpretation.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newcoesgonbioethics.html , http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newcoechiefburicondialoguestatescitizens.html, http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeminoritiesprotection20yearsafter.html, etc), Focused, at First, mainly on the Legality of the Measues taken by the National Governments in the Fight against the Virus, (reminding, in this regard, also a set of "Guidelines" that she Published Earlier).

    - The Main point is, for those Measures, to Strike a Fair Balance, between the Legal Aim pursued, and any Restrictions of Human Rights/Democracy, she underlined. They should also "Respond to an Urgency", instead of legiferating for the long term. Moreover, each Measure should be "Proportionate" to its Legal Aim, she reminded.

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    => This leaves a Large Space for Manouver, Buric observed.

    - Among the various "Areas" of interest to the COE are, also : Health, Social Policy, Freedom of Expression, Data Protection, Disciminations, Children, Minority Languages, (etc), she Highlighted.

    >>> But, particularly "Under Stress", are Vulnerable Persons, who may Face InEqualities in Access to Health Care, such as the "Elderly People", "those who Fight for Liberty", (including Migrants), etc, CoE's Secretary General underlined.

    - For all those reasons, attention must be also paid to "Not Weaken those Democratic outlets where Human Rights Rely", she advised.

---------------------------------

    + And, at this juncture, From Now on, "Learn from Experiences, (obtained until Now, during this Virus' Crisis) should Guide our Next Steps", urged CoE's Secretary General.

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    * In Fighting this Virus' Crisis, but Also to Build the "After-Crisis" era, Europe must Better be guided by "Multi-Lateralism", Instead of letting "Each Country act Alone", stressed from the outset the New President of CoE's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), Rik Daems, Liberal MEP from Belgium.

    - And, there, "Parliaments are Needed, Both in order to Strengthen the Trust of Citizens, and for better Relations with the Executive", he pointed out.

    - Meanwhile, at least ..."5 (Specialized) Committees" of PACE are eager to Debate, prepare Reports and Vote Resolutions, in the run up to November's CoE Summit in Athens (Comp. Supra), on the Various aspects of this MultiFacet Crisis, i.e. its Political, Legal/Human Rights, Health and Social Affairs, Economy and Environment, as well as its "Standing" Committee, (of Equivalent Status to its Plenary), as he Announced.

    + Daems also launched a Call to Associate even "National Parliaments" in Topical "Debates" about this Virus' Crisis, throughout all CoE's PanEuropean space.

    ++ Last, but not leas, PACE's President also Welcomed the recent Agreement of 3 Successive CoE's Chairmanships (by Georgia, Greece and Germany) to support the Creation of a Human Right "to a Decent, Healthy Environment", (as he said, according to the Joint Communiqué, published on May 15, i.e, at the Beginning of the Current, Greek CoE's Presidency, and Extending up to 2021's End, i.e., Even After the Conclusion of the forthcoming, German Presidency of November 2020 - May 2021, (Comp., already : ..., + ..., and ..., etc). Something which, obviously, has to Start being Prepared from Nowadays.

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    * For the New ECHR President, Robert Spano, the present Crisis is a so "Great Challenge", Both for "Now and the Years to Come", that we had not seen "Never Before".

    => PanEuropean CoE's 47 Member Countries must act with "Unity" and in a "Collective" way, he urged. Our "Common Ground" around basic Values must "Galvanise" and "Create Trust" to the People. The current "UnPrecedented Threat" must  "Not serve as Pretexte to Abuse", he Warned.

    >>> For that purpose, the Key Word is "Balance", and, in this regard, there are "4 Principles" to respect, the New and Young ECHR's President stressed, (Flanked by his Predecessor, EuroJudge Linos Sicilianos, and the Experienced ECHR's Registrar, Rodderick Liddel, as he observed from the start).


 -(1)- The "Public Interest is Not an Absolute Trump Card !".

- Therefore, there must be a "Proportionality" with Human Rights/Democracy.


- (2)- "Legality", (i.e. "Rule of Law").

=> Measures must be, ultimately, "Based" on a Law, and, thus, be, more or less, "Foreseable".


- (3)- Measures must "Match Rules". I.e. be "withOut Excessive Discretion" to the Executive Power.


- (4)- Last, but not least, Measures must be "Adapted to the Duration", and "Tailored to meet the Gravity" of the situation.

=> In other words, such Exceptional Measures "Must Not Become a New Normality !", ECHR's President concluded.

----------------------------------------------------

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* The experienced PanEuropean Commissioner for Human Rights, (former OSCE Representative for Free Speech), Dunja Mijatovic, found that this Pandemic Virus' Crisis "is like 9/11" !...

- Indeed, already, it "takes a  Huge Toll on Human Rights", and it creates "New Constraints" also "for the Future", she Warned.

=> Ultimately, it all depends on "What Kind of Society we Want to live in", Mijatovic stressed.

>>> In fact, we should Develop the "Participation" of Citizens in Public Decision-Making, and "EmPower the People" : "Otherwise, we risk to have No Democracy !", she Urged, (Surprizingly moving along "Eurofora" Project's lines)...

She made 3 Particular Recommendations :


-(1)- First, "we Need more Equality !"

Because, Otherwise, the Situation of "Disadvantaged People" (including "the Elderly", etc), becomes "even Worse", she Denounced.


-(2)- We must also "Strengthen the place of Human Rights in Society", (including, f.ex., "in HealthCare", etc), she went on to urge.

For that purpose, we could "use CoE's political Strategy", in order "to Move Forward" and create "Hope", she advised.        


-(3)- Last, but not least, "Lessons" learnt by this Crisis (of the Virus) "should be Multi-Lateral", (and "Not" depend to any Country  Alone" - Comp. Also Supra).


=>  In Conclusion, we must "Not Betray the Expectations" of those who made "CoE emerge from the Ashes of the 2nd World War", But, on the Contrary, "Give New Impetus" to his main Missions, the PanEuropean Organisation's Human Rights Commissioner, Ambitiously called in fine.

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    *A Grass-Roots' approach by Experienced, Long-Tim CLRAE President Anders Knape, a ChristianDemocrat from Sweden, Focused, initially, on the Fact that, "whenever it's about Health Care, Schools, Public Transports, even Enterprises/Non-Profit Sector, etc.", as well as "about Elderly People or Children, etc", even "National Authorities almost Always seek to get in touch with Local and Regional Authorities", including in his own Country, (since they have a lot of Competences in such issues)...  

    - Knape, meanwhile, Denounced 2 ..."Colateral Victims" of this Virus' Crisis, consisting in "Hot" Cases of Violations of Human Rights and Democratic Principles elsewhere, that the CLRAE had a Duty to Check and Urgently Rectify, or, Otherwise, Punish with Sanctions, But was Hindered to do so, Because of the "Confinement" Measures, which Excluded Collective Meetings, Travels for on the Spot Investigations, etc.:

    The 1st concerned the abusive Dismissal of many Elected Mayors and/or Heads of Regions in Turkey, (while others had been even Jailed), and their Replacement by Ankara Government-apointed Cronies, which obviously Smashed, there, any notion of Local/Regional Democracy... And the 2nd, was about a Controversial Draft Reform in Latvia, which, according to CLRAE's Experts, should be Urgently "Suspended", and Rectified. Meanwhile, in some Other Countries, Local/Regional Elections had been Postponed. But CLRAE had (Because of the Virus) been Obliged to Suspend its own Activities, including a whole Plenary Session, Initialy Scheduled for this Spring, which they "Hoped", Now, to become able to hold, at least, as Late as on... October (sic !), having Even "Postponed" some of its own, internal Elections, until then !

    Significantly, the Experienced CLRAE's Chief Denounced that Today while being Exceptionaly Filmed right in Front of a Surprizing, huge Image of an ...OSTRICH (sic ! - See relevant PHOTO), as if he wanted to, indirectly but clearly,  Remind and Criticize the Notorious Tactics of some inside the CoE in the Past, who had prefered even to Risk to Damage the Reputation and the Credibility of the PanEuropean Organisation for Human Rights and Democracy, Instead of letting it simply do its Duty, to clearly Condemn and Sanction various Grave Violations of Human Rights and/or Democratic Principles by Turkey, that they had Notoriously Avoided, at Any Pretext, already Several Times, in Previous Years, Long Before that...

 
-------------------------

    + Meanwhile, Both During and "After" the current Virus' Crisis, CLRAE would have to Deal with a Nowadays Growing Problem of "People (left) withOut the necessary Means" for their Livelihood, (a Task that even French President Macron had, initialy, entrusted to ...Local Authorities and Humanitarian NGOs, Before starting to add, Later-on, also some first, but rather Incomplete yet, State Measures), as well as with Reaching substantial Conclusions on the "Lessons Learned" by that Crisis, (particularly about "Saveguarding Local/Regional Self-Government even in periods of Exceptional Crisis"), as he Stressed in fine, (Comp. Also Supra).

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* International NGOs' President, Professor Anna Rurka, from Poland, Focused mainly on "DisAdvantaged People" but also "Participation" in Public "Decision-Making" process, including "Digital" tools, etc., (in the Latter Moving, approximatively, Between CoE's Human Rights Commissioner's and "Eurofora" Project's lines : Comp Supra) :

=> -"What Changes to our Societies", related to the Present Crisis ?, she Wondered, from the outset.

- "The (Pandemic) Crisis Amplified the Situation of DisAdvantaged People, which Became even Worse" Nowadays, Rurka Denounced.

- This Concerns, in particular, f.ex.: "the Elderly, People with DisAbilities, Minorities, Refugees, and even Human Rights Defenders" (etc), she added, (withOut Excluding that Many among those Characteristics might, in some Exceptional times, be found United at 1 Person, all Together)...

+ But, almost in Parallel, "New Dynamics" are emerging "in Representative and Participatory Democracy", she found.

- Inter alia, in particular, "Evidence-proving (Public) Decision-Making, and Tranparency, are Crucial" Nowadays, INGO's President stressed.

- However, "the Lock-Down Restricted the Public", which "Rarely Participated" during this Exceptional Period, Rurka Criticized.

---------------

=> Nevertheless, "Some Good Practices" emerged in "Participatory Decision-Making", she observed :

- F.ex., NGOS and Citizens "Quickly started to be Using the Digital Space, for Monitoring and Action".

+ And there is, currently, a perceived "Need to Create (Web) Platforms for 2 Ways' Communication, between Individuals (Citizens) and Governments", she proposed, (Staying just 1 Step Before "Eurofora"'s "Digital Dialogue")...

>>> And, in order to "EmPower the People" in such a Direction, (Comp. Expression Today used Also by CoE's Human Rights' Commissioner : Supra), moreover, "ACCESS TO THE INTERNET should be Declared, by All (CoE's 47 Member) States, as a Fundamental Human Right !", Rurka concluded.

I.e., a Trend which has Already Started, f.ex. in Italy (particularly Rome City, as "Eurofora" witnessed during the "G7" Summit of 2017) and some Other Countries, while Also Supported by Various Political Movements Recently accross Europe, But Even Originaly Highlighted, for the 1st Time, at an Official CoE's Ministerial Summit in ...Greece (Thessaloniki), as Early as Since 1998, (i.e. during its Previous Presidency of the CoE, and almost at the Begining of the Web !), in a Landmark Resolution of the PanEuropean Organisation on Modern Tele-Communication Technologies, Drafted in Strasbourg under the supervision of CoE's Top Officer, Philippe Poirel, from France, currently Director for Human Rights, (See his INTW to "Eurofora"'s Co-Founder, Published, then, at "MPAgency"), and Nowadays Managed by CoE's Director of Standards in Democracy/Human Rights, including Internet, the Experienced Jans Kleisjen from Austria, (Comp. Many Kleisjen's Statements that we Published, initially,mainly at "TCWeekly" + MPAgency, and Afterwards in "Eurofora").

---------------------------------------------

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* The very Experienced Gianni Buquicchio, from Italy, President of the prestigious PanEuropean Commission for Democracy through (Constitutional) Law, 62-Member Countries-Strong, alias "Venice Committee", (and Former Long-Time Director of its Secretariat in Strasbourg : See Many Buquicchio Statements to "Eurofora"s Co-Founder, already Published at "TCWeekly", "MPAgency", and Later "Eurofora"), observed that, even if "Pandemics Always Existed", at Rare Moments in History, nevertheless, this "COVID-19" Virus' Crisis "is Specific, and Not as Before".

- However, CoE's Assembly had already drafted a Report on State of Urgency, at 1995, he reminded.

- At any case, "the Measures" taken by a State have to be "Proportional to their Legal Aim", and "Temporary", i.e. taken "Only as Long as it still goes on,  Buquicchio reminded, as a matter of Principle.

- On the Contrary, such "Measures" should "Never Become the Norm", i.e. Never "Permanent", at all. Otherwise, the Parliament might Control them "a posteriori", i.e. "retrospectively".

- Moreover, this concerns "Only those Measures which are Strictly Necessary" for the above-mentioned Aim, (i.e. in order to Face a concrete Urgency), he stressed.

=> In Consequence, "any Other Measures are Excluded", particularly if they are Not even related with that State of Urgency/Emergency, President Buquicchio made it clear.

In other words, f.ex., to take a concrete Topical Issue, Contrary to some Lobbies' Claims, the French Government, normaly, could Not Exploit the Current State of Emergency due to the Virus, in order to, Eventually, take some Measures Affecting the Society and even Humanity at large, as to Authorize, for the 1st Time in History, Controversial Artificial Births of Children Ordered by Lesbians, (in Fact Pushed by some Technocrats Eager to Seize Control over Massive IVFs, giving them uncontrolled Access to Thousands of possible Genetic Manipulations on Human Embryos, which can be Obviously Dangerous, not only to Health, but Even to the Future of Humankind)... So that the Notorious Pressure Exerted by some Parts of LGBTI Lobbies, pushed by some Shady Technocrats (Comp. Supra), normally, should NOT make the Government of France Yield at all to any such eventual Socio-Political Blackmails Nowadays...

    + Last, but not least, Even if Most of such Anti-Virus' Crisis Measures might be mainly Motivated by Public "Health" reasons, Nevertheless, in Fact, many Include Also Various Socio-Economic and/or Other "Multilateral" Considerations, so that they are, in Consequence, real "Political Decisions", which Can and Must be subjected to "Control for Human Rights and Democracy" Issues, "Venice" Commission's President clearly Stressed, in Conclusion.  

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* Professor Giuseppe Palmisano, Social Rights' PanEuropean Committee's President, (Comp. various Palmisano's Statements to "Eurofora" f.ex. at : ... + ... + ..., etc), made a Short, but Interesting Intervention, that he had Structured accross "3 (main) Points" :

- (1)- First of all, this Virus' Pandemic Affects Most, or even almost "All" Social Rights enshrined at CoE's "Social Charter", as he pointed out, from the outset :

- I.e., f.ex., "Universal Health Care", "Safety at Work", "Elder People", Children's Education, "Housing rights", (etc), he reminded.

+ Virus also Affects "All Persons to its (Social Charter's) Jurisdiction", Palmisano added.


-(2)-  In order to Strengthen CoE's protection of Basic Social Rights Nowadays, it's "All" its 47 Member States which should "Sign" its Latest, UpDated and "Fully Fledged" Version, i.e. the so-called "Revised Charter", as well as "Accept the Collective Procedures" against eventual Violations, he went on to stress.


-(3)- Perhaps the Most Important, Nowadays : Professor Palmisano seized the Opportunity of this Exceptional Video-Conference, with the Participation of almost All CoE's Leadership, in order to Make an Interesting, Original, and Timely "Suggestion" :

- This Deadly Virus' Crisis has a Big "Impact on many People", who are "Suffering Loss", have serious "Griefs", and "Need to Come to Terms", particularly "if Damages Persist" even Further, he observed.

=> Therefore, CoE could create an adequate "PLATFORM" for "a kind of SOCIAL DIALOGUE", "and ReConciliation", around November 2020, Palmisano concretely suggested. (Something that CoE's Chairman-in-office, Greek Minister Varvitsiotis, apparently Noted wth Interest).

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* Anti-Torture CoE's Watchdog, CPT's President, Mykola Gnatofskyy from Ukraine, appeared Focused mainly on "Alternatives to Deprivation of Liberty", in order to Reduce Detentions and Prisons' "OverCrowding", Ameliorate Health-Care.  (../..)

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* Anti-Racism and Intolerance PanEuropean Commission (ECRI) Chair, Maria Daniella Marouda, from Greece, eyeing CoE's "Cooperation" with Both the OSCE and the EU, Focused mainly on Calling, Nowadays, for "an Inclusive Recovery", as she stressed, taking into account the full "COVID-19 Pandemy's Impact".

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lanzarote_nicolaidis__400 

* Children Protection, against Sexual Abuse and/or Exploitation, Committee's (known as "Lanzarote Convention") Chairman, George Nicolaidis, also from Greece, Warned against Topical Risks by the "Lock-Down" during the Virus' Crisis, such as "Domestic Abuse", and/or to be "Sexualy Exploited" while "Relying on the Web", f.ex. even "for (On-Line) Education", etc. Provide adequate "Information", and/or "Help", including for/from "the Elderly", "Filter", etc., are some among the Practical Means to Prevent or Face such Risks.

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 exechr_sicilianos_400_01

* Former ECHR President Linos-Alexander Sicilianos, who has Just Left his post the Day that the Incoming CoE's 2020 Greek Chairmanship started (15/5/2020), as Minister Varvitsiotis reminded, Urged, in particular, to Fight Against "InEqualities", which are "Augmenting" during this Virus' Crisis, and Affect "the Most Vulnerables", such as "Disabled People, UnEmployed, etc", (a Concern Largely Shared by several Participants Today : Comp. Supra).

+ At the Same Time, in Parallel, ECHR should Help at the "Modernisation of the system of Justice", mainly via "Digital" Technologies, (an Issue on which a Specific Video-Conference is prepared for this Month at the CoE), as well as Develop adequate "Synergies" with Top National Courts, (f.ex. "Constitutional Council" in France, "State Council" in Greece, "Federal Constitutional Court" in Germany, etc), but Also "the UNO", he added.

------------------------------------------------------

coe_dora_bakoyani_400 

* Experienced Top MEP Dora Bakoyanis, Head of the Greek Delegation to CoE's Assembly (PACE), and former President of its Political Committee, as well as f. Foreign Minister and Athens' Mayor, closed this Round of High-Level PanEuropean  Interventions, mainly by Inviting the CoE to Also "Seize the Opportunities" Currently Emerging amidst the Crisis :

- This Pandemic Crisis presents "Challenges", but Also "Opportunities", she stressed from the outset.

- F.ex., we "Change Ways to Communicate, interact", etc.: Among Others, Nowadays,"Video-Conferences go Non-Stop !", Bakoyanis observed, adding also "Tele-Work", etc.

=> -"This is an UnKnown (yet) Territory, to Discover !", she Characteristicaly Urged.

- Indeed, "the World is Changing", at the same time that "it's Defying us"...

>>> Let's "Use this Opportunity", "Today !", she Called.

- F.ex. by "Building a <<Tool-Box>>, both for Now, and "for the Years to Comme !", Dora Bakoyanis suggested, inter alia.

------------------------------------------------

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+ Meanwhile, CoE's new Chairman-in-office, Varvitsiotis, Announced a Follow-up Video-Conference, Later this Month, with Specialized CoE's Top Officers, as well as a relevant PanEuropean "Scientific Forum" for September, (as CoE's new Secretary General, Marija Buric was spontaneously Applauding the Conclusion of this 1st Ever Conference with All the Main Leaders of Strasbourg's Organisation)...

 

 

(../..)

 

("Draft-News")

 

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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)..
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    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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