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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE Assembly Secretary General Sawicki to EF: Rules UpDate may Facilitate Decisions on Russian MEPs+

CoE Assembly Secretary General Sawicki to EF: Rules UpDate may Facilitate Decisions on Russian MEPs+

Pisac ACM
19. 01. 2018.
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*Strasbourg/CoE/Angelo Marcopolo/- Even a simple Change (or, rather, UpDate) of CoE's purely Procedural Rules may Facilitate a much-needed Agreement for a Compromise on Russian MEPs' participation to the PanEuropean Organisation's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), as it results from the Reply given to an "Eurofora" Question by the Experienced PACE's Secretary General, Wojciech Sawicki.


Since the 2014 Ukraine Conflict, which risked to Divide Europe, a Controversial Vote in PACE, Rejecting a Compromise, striped Russian MEPs from so Many Rights, that they were pushed to Quit CoE's Assembly, until the Participation Rights of All PACE's MEPs might be equally Safeguarded in Future, (i.e. for 3 Years now: See: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeminorityamendmentpushesrussianmepsout.html+http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/pacerussiasanctionscutcoeoffukrainepeaceprocess.html
), after what, Russia Recently Suspended its Annual Financial Contribution to the CoE, (while Turkey also Reduced its own, shortly afterwards), resulting in an UnPrecedented Crisis, that CoE's Governments, together with PACE's Majority, would like to Solve asap, and, at any case, Before a forthcoming New Summit of CoE's 47 Heads of State/Government, expected on 2019, (Comp., f.ex.: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newpacepresidentandrussiadebates.html).


Significantly, Today's move was made during the Press Briefing of  European Correspondents on a Crucial forthcoming PACE Plenary Session for the "Winter 2018", Next Week in Strasbourg, which is due, not only to Elect the body's New President, (normally for the next 2 Years : 2018-2019, during which a New CoE Summit is due), as well as CoE's New PanEuropean Commissioner on Human Rights for the Next 5 Years (4/2018 - 2023), but also to Host, for the 1st Time, a brand new body, including Both Governments' and Parliamentarians' Top representatives from COE's Ministerial Committee and its Parliamentary Assembly, Together with Russia's Duma and Federal Council's representatives, (according to a Deal brokered on Top Political Level last December 2017).


In Parallel, Heads of State from Countries which Traditionally play a particular Role also on EU - Russia relations, such as Austria and Armenia, as well as Denmark (including its Prime Minister), that is currentlly Chairing the CoE (for the period of 11/2017-5/2018 : See, f.ex. ...), will all Address this same PACE's Plenary.


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


 - In "Eurofora"s Question to PACE's SG Sawicki, we Observed the Fact that CoE's Assembly, as things stand until now, is, curiously, Deprived of the Possibility to Decide on the Credentials of National Delegations send by CoE's Member States to Strasbourg, during any of its 4 Plenary Sessions traditionaly organized each Year, (on Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn) : On the Contrary PACE is Hindered to take such a Decision at any Other Moment, except from Only Once per Year : Solely on January, (i.e. at the Beginning of its Winter Session), with Consequences durating for ...12 Months-Long, withOut Any Possibility to Decide Otherwise, f.ex., at its Spring, Summer or Autumn Sessions, Neither Between them. So that CoE's Leadership is, in fact, Deprived of a Necessary Freedom to Move Fast and whenever there is a Political Will, being Obliged, by too Old Rules of Procedure, to Limit its own Decision-making in Only 1 Occasion during a Whole Year : I.e., an obviously Too Long period of Time...


=> Therefore, "Eurofora" Asked Sawicki whether he found Better and Possible to Ensure, for CoE's Leadership, a Freedom to Decide, on PACE MEPs' National Delegations' Credentials, if necessary, during Each of its 4 Sessions of the Year, (WInter, Spring, Summer or Autumn), and/or at any Other Time, between them, (f.ex., perhaps during an "Exceptional Session", and/or a "Standing Committee", etc), if and when the PanEuropean Organisation's Leaders might feel a serious need to do so, for CoE's General Interest. I.e., in Practice, CoE could, thus, have, at least, 4 Chances per Year to Seek and Find a Solution on Problems as that of the Russian Delegation to the PACE, instead of Only 1... Wouldn't that be much More Efficient, from all points of view, for any such serious Political and Diplomatic Negotiations, (including, if necessary, reciprocal Pressure at/from all sides, but also Meaningful Dialogue, for Adequate Compromises), and Timely Action ?


+ Meanwhile, "Eurofora" had already Spoken, about such an Idea, with Various Other experienced Top CoE's Officials, who had mostly said that they Found that Interesting, and had Encouraged us to Raise that Topical now Question to the Right Person : i.e. to PACE's Secretary General.


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

 - Sawicki, in his Reply to the above-mentioned "Eurofora"s Question, started by basically Agreeing on the Fact that, indeed, the Current System, of Only 1 Decision possible for the PACE on such Key Issues, during all the 12 Months of each Year, was "Too Long" and "Not Flexible" enough.

 - However, the Experienced PACE's Secretary General, went on to clearly add that, "If there is a Political Will", a Solution to that Problem was "Possible" !

=> For that purpose, "it's enough to make a Change (or, rather, UpDate : See Infra) inside iCoE's Statute", he told us, pointing at an Old, (and obviously Out-Dated), Article No 32, which still Says that CoE's Parliamentary "Assembly shall Meet in Ordinary Session Once a Year" only !


The Problem is that this is Combined with Article 25, alinea (b), which says that "The term of office of Representatives ... will Date from the opening of the Ordinary Session following their appointment", until that of "the Next ...or ... a Later Ordinary Session", (i.e., practically, until ... Next Year, the soonest)...


- Sawicki explained, in this rrgard, that the 4 Current PACE's Sessions (of Winter, Spring, Summer and Autumn), are considered, for such Technical Reasons, to be "Part-Sessions".


- Therefore, as long as COE's Statute remains unchanged, it's Only in case of New Elections, Death or Resignation, that MEPs' Credentials could be presented Also at  Any among those 4 "Part-Sessions" during the Year. On the Contrary, National Delegations' credentials, should, as he stressed, be presented Only at the Beginning of an "Ordinary Session", (i.e. Only on January, each Year : Comp. Supra).


- Nevertheless, even if somewhat "Not Easy", it is certainly "Possible" to Change that, by Modifying adequately those CoE Statute's Articles, mentioned above, (so that CoE would have 4 Occasions per Year to Decide on such matters, Instead of Only 1), PACE's Secretary General underlined in Conclusion.


>>> And, in Fact, such a Move could be quite "Simple", since, "if CoE's Committee of Ministers and its Parliamentary Assembly Agree, then, for this kind of Issues, there is No Need for (National) Ratifications !", Sawicki observed Positively, while Concluding his Reply to "Eurofora"s Question.


Already, CoE's Statute, which had been Initially adopted as Early as since 1949 (!), i.e. a very Long Time Ago, has been Amended (on specific points) Many Times, until Recently :


=> -, Indeed, at Least ... Thirty Three (33) Amendments have been already made to CoE's Statute, Between 1951 - 2015, as "Eurofora" found at the Official CoE's Texts !


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


+ Meanwhile, Between October and December 2017, (under PACE's interim President Stella Kyriakides from Cyprus, a Center-Right EPP MEP. Comp. various Kyriakides' statements to "Eurofora", as f.ex.: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/newpacepresidentkyriakidestoeurofora.html, etc), CoE's Committee of Ministers and its Parliamentary Assembly's Leaders have Already Started to Work Together, in even Closer Cooperation than before, precisely about Issues as that of Russian MEPs' participation and Vote Rights, as well as the Subsequent Financial Problems later provoked by that (Comp. Supra).


>>> An Important and Topical point, in this regard, is a main Conclusion of the Recent Report drafted by Italian MEP Michele Nicoletti (Chairman of the Socialist Group, and probable New PACE President for the 2 Next Years 2018-2019 : Comp. f.ex., some of Nicoletti's Statements to "Eurofora", at: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/pacepresidentrow.html , etc) and adopted by PACE on October 2017, about a New CoE's Heads of State/Governments Summit, for the Unity of Europe and its Democratic Security (probably on 2019), which Calls for a Coordinated Approach between Governments and MEPs, particularly on delicate Issues which Affect the "Unity" of the PanEuropean Organisation, as also that of the Fate of Russian MEPs.


So that an Eventual Change (or UpDate) of the above-mentioned Points in CoE's Statute (Comp. Supra) with a possible Agreement between CoE's Committee of Ministers and PACE's MEPs, i.e. withOut Need for National Ratifications, could, normally, be Feasible and rather Simple, (particularly, given the Urgency of the matter, in practical terms, considering f.ex., its Budget, the preparation of the Summit, the quality of its PanEuropean Debates on "Hot" Political Issues concerning all its 47 Member States, etc).

 

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+ On the Substance of the Issue, it's well known that Russia has clearly Asked for All PACE's MEPs' Rights, as Parlementarians, to be Safeguarded, in the Future, in unequivocal terms, which would Not allow any Other eventual Repetition of So Harsh Sanctions, Depriving them for Too Many Rights of Participation/Vote, as in that Exceptional, Controversial Case which Provoked the Departure of Russian MEPs (Comp. Supra). 


Therefore, Moscow, notoriously finds Necessary also a Reform of PACE's "Rules of Procedure", in order for All MEPs' elementary Rights to be clearly Safeguarded in the Future. As long as this is not done, the Russian Delegation of MEPs does Not Accept to Return Back inside the PACE, in a Precarious Condition, and, after Years of provoked Absence, it has decided to Suspend all its Annual Financial Contribution to the COE, (effective from February 2018, i.e. in 2 Months Time, as another Experienced CoE's Official told us).


>>> In order to Facilitate the obviously Necessary "Dialogue" between Russia and PACE for a Solution on this thorny Issue, but also in the Wider, Topical Context of the Preparation of CoE's Summit, all being linked with a Debate on COE's Future Role at the PanEuropean area, (Comp. Supra), PACE's President Stella Kyriakides proposed, and PACE's Bureau Collectively Accepted, on December 2017, after a 1st Meeting with 5 Russian Parliamentary Leaders, (including Mrs Matvienko and Mr. Borodin, Presidents of the Federal Council and of Duma, respectively), to set up a New, "Ad Hoc" Committee, Strongly Built, with the Participation of All Heads of National Delegations, the Presidents of Political Groups, and the Chairs of PACE's Committees, as well as its Rapporteurs on PACE's Role and Procedures, explicitly charged to Focus on CoE Assembly's "Mission".


=> This, important New PACE's High-level "Ad Hoc" Committee on COE' Assembly's "Role and Mission", was Officially convoked by President Kyriakides (whose Mandate concludes on the 21st of January 2018) and the Bureau, to Meet in Strasbourg, on Next Tuesday, with the Participation of at least 2 Russian Top MEPs, (Konstantin Kosachev, Long-Time President of Senate's Foreign affairs Committee, and Pyotr Tolstoy, Duma's vice-President), as Sawicki confirmed.


 - "This is a Creaton of PACE's Bureau, and, therefore, If and when it might, eventually, Propose any Amendments to PACE's Rules of Procedure, then, normally, this should be Debated and Voted by the competent PACE Committee on Rules of Procedure, before a Final and Decisive, Public Debate and Vote at a Plenary Session, Sawicki concluded on this point.


I.e, something which, theoretically, could be done during a Week, i.e. in one Plenary Session, But, in Fact, might require a, more or less, Longer Time, ...thereby showing, in fact, again the Practical Interest for "Eurofora"s above-mentioned Suggestion to Simplify and Accelerate PACE's work, on this and other such cases, that its Secretary General appeared to find Practically Useful and Feasible, (Comp. concrete Detals Supra)...

 

(../..)

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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..

woldsteth

"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

hancock

"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"

curtis

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.

vries

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

Polls

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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