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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE to Boost Athletes' Human Rights after Anti-Doping Zig-Zag Row between Russia - SKorea Olympics

CoE to Boost Athletes' Human Rights after Anti-Doping Zig-Zag Row between Russia - SKorea Olympics

Written by ACM
Tuesday, 20 March 2018
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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- Acting Fast, After the Recent Olympic Games' Row, which initially Excluded, Before Later Restoring to their Rights, many Russian Athletes, regarding Doping Allegations, according to Controversial Procedures, for the First Time, a consistent Draft "Charter of Athlete Rights" was Discussed in Strasbourg, in view of a possible adoption in a Few Months' Time,  at CoE's 47 Member States-strong PanEuropean Organisation for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, in Cooperation with the Global Anti-Doping Agency (ADA), during an Exceptional International Conference co-Organized Together with CoE's Anti-Doping Convention's Experts, (a European Legal Text, Open for Signature to All Countries in the World).


While, on December 2017, IOC had Banned Dozens of Top, Prize-Winning Russian Athletes, and Stripped them from the Medals and Titles that they had Won, allegedly thanks to Doping, exceptionally Excluding even the Country as such, from the Latest, 2018 Olympic Games at PyeongChang, in South Korea, because of Doping Allegations Dating since the Previous Olympic Winter Games of 2014 at Sochi (Russia), suddenly, on February 2018, the Court of Arbitration on Sport (CAS), cancelled many of those rulings,  reversed or, at least, reduced and limited several others, after Finding that they Lacked of Sufficient Evidence, had been obtained after Controversial Procedures, and/or were DisProportionate, etc. But that Rectification came too Late, for the concerned Athletes, who were Excluded from the 2O18 Olympic Games, added also to various Other Negative Repercussions to the Detriment of their Honor, Reputation, Social and/or Professional Lives.


+ By a Timely Coincidence, the Experienced Russian Health Minister, Veronika Skvortsova, (who has Recently been Elected also President of  the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s Assembly at nearby Geneva), was Today in Strasbourg, where she met with CoE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland this Same Morning.

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 coe_antidoping__athletes_human_rights_top_panel_eurofora_400
 


=> - "Athletes' Human Rights must be Protected, and their Voices Heard" : This "Issue ..will be addressed at (CoE's) Next Conferene of Ministers responsible for Sport, which will take place in Georgia, on October" 2018, Announced, from the outset, CoE's Deputy Secretary General, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, (who has also a personal Experience on that area, since she has served also as former Sports' Minister).


-  Indeed, "the Credibility of the Anti-Doping" Institutions, as well as "the Human Rights of Athletes" require to Act, particularly for their Right to a "Fair Hearing" by an "Independent and Impartial" body, similar to that of EConv.HR's "Article 6", etc. For that, we need to hold sincere and open "Discussions" with all the stakeholders, pointed out ADA's vice-President, the MInister for Children and Equality from Norway, Linda Hofstad-Helleland.


- We want that forthcming "Charter" on Athletes' Rights "to be Robust", and, for that purpose, we must "add Input to the Process" if its Preparation, while also meeting the relevant "Time Deadlines", incited the President of CoE's Anti-Doping Convention's Monitoring Group, Anders Solheim, who introduced to the Debates which followed, (partly Open to the Press, partly "In Camera").


- Several among the Participants to that Debate, (taken among Athletes, NGOs, Experts, etc), Criticized what they found to be the "too Complex", sometimes even "Confusing", character of the current Legal Texts and/or Mechanisms used in the Anti-Doping activities, asking to "Clarify" them for the Athletes+.


=> - "Whenever we speak about Sochi (Comp. Supra), I'd better Put my Glasses on !", characteristically Joked, in this regard, the former Football Player, and currently Chie Technical Development Officer at the FIFA, Marco Van Basten, during a Dialogue between Experienced Athletes, Together with another former Footballer, Jan Age Fjortfoft, from Norway.


+ Other Participants tno that Debate prefered to Focus on the Need for "Transparency" of the relevant Procedures, and for the "Independence" of those due to take Decisions.


++ Last, but not least, several Participants asked for "Efficiency", and "to Make Sure that the Rules are Applied to everybody", etc.


The 2nd Debate, about the Concrete Measures, with which CoE intends to Boost Athletes' Rights, was held Behind Closed Doors (for the Press).


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 coe__ada_conference_on_athletes_human_rights_and_doping_eurofora_400

 

=> "Eurofra" found, meanwhile, CoE's Draft "Declaration" about the forthcoming "Charter of Athlete Rights", which is a Document of 5 Pages, in the form of a Legal Convention with 17 Articles :


 - "Sport is Controlled by International ... Federations, National ... Organisations, Professional .. Leagues, Employers, Businesses and Governments", while "Athletes are the Public Face of Sport, and Athletic Performance is fundamental to the Prestige, Popularity and Viability of Sport". In consequence, "the Politisation and Commericalisation of Sport Today, sees a Failure to uphold the Humanity of Sport and the Dignity of the Player, and a Violation, by Sports' Organizations, of Internnationaly Recognized Human Rights", COE's Draft notes from the outset.

 - "Education, Health and Safety", "Equality of Opportunity", "Fair and Just Sporting Conditions", "Privacy" and "Protection of Name, Image and Performance" and "Rights of the Child", as well as "Freedom of Expression", "Representation", "Access to Court", "Procedural Justice" and "Right to an Effective Remedy", concerne the Substantial Rights of the Athletes, and the Means to Defend them.

+ "Freedom from Doping and Corruption", as well as the "Duty to Respect the Rights of Others and (to) Advance Sport", go more in the Direction of their Obligations, (even if CoE's text also speaks of "Freedom from Doping", and about "Athlete"'s "Right to a Sporting Environment ...Free of" Doping) :


- "Doping"'s Definition is considerably Simplified, (compared to the Complex and Confusing original Definition in the Anti-Doping Connfession) : It's just "Using Banned Substances".  

      
- Relevant "Genetic Manipulations" should, normally, be Included into that, since almost All of them use some kind of "Substances", noted a CoE's Expert, speaking to "Eurofora". Moreover, CoE's Draft calls also to "Presetve teh Integrity of Spot, ...Fee from ...Manipulation" (etc), she pointed out, in his regard.


+ At the same time, "Every Athlete has the Duty to Advance and Promote the Interests of his .. Sport and Community", and to Help "Ensure that Everyone can Enjoy Sport, and that the Health of Sport and the Social and Cultural role in Society is preserved", CoE's text concludes.  ,


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 >>> Curiously, this CoE's "Charter" does Not contain any Definition of what is an "Athlete"... Therefore, "Eurofora", speaking to CoE's Experts, suggested that, in fact, this New Draft might implicitly Refer to the Crystal-Clear Definition already Given by CoE's Anti-Doping Convention, according to which : - ""Sportsmen" .. means those Persons who Participate Regularly in organized Sports Activities". (Article 2).


An eventual Professionalisation is Not a matter of Definition of what is an "Athlete". But, on the Contrary, a "Right", that "every Athlete has", "to Share Fairly in the Economic Activity and Wealth of his .. Sport, which Athletes helped generate", (i.e. If and When he might Wish to do so), as it results from CoE's Draft "Charter of Athlete's Rights" (Article 6, on "Economic Activity").

 

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In other words, it Reminds (mutatis-mutandis) the Definition of "Journalism" already given by 2 landmark Decisions of the Inter-American Court, as Early as since 1985, as a Person engaged in a Regular Activity of Searching, Formulating and Publishing News of General Interest for the Society, that a Recent CoE's Book on "Press Freedom" published on March 2017, by a Team of Experts (including the new Secretary General of the European Federation of Journalists from Brussels, etc). Something which is, obviously, much more Closer to ECHR's Case-Law, than a merely "Fiscal" Description of some Bureaucrats who, curiously, insist to Reduce the Noble Vocation of "Journalism", only to a mere ..."Card" attesting what kind of Business might Pay the Majority of an Individual's Revenues (sic !)...


I.e., CoE naturally Prefers, Both for "Athletes" and for "Journalists", a Definition Focusing on the "Substance" of their Real Activities in the Society, instead of Merely Restricting it to a Sly, Fiscal Description, which has Nothing to do with the Substance of the Issue.

(../..)

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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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