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Home arrow newsitems arrow CoE new Chairman, Minister Samuelsen - Danish Presidency to EF+ on big moves on Human Rights in 2018

CoE new Chairman, Minister Samuelsen - Danish Presidency to EF+ on big moves on Human Rights in 2018

Автор ACM
woensdag, 15 november 2017

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*Strasbourg/Angelo Marcopolo/- Saluting with a Smile "Eurofora" and other participants to various CoE's Meetings Today, just after Taking over Officially the Presidency of the 47 Member States strong, PanEuropean Organisation for Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law, during the period of November 2017 - May 2018 included, Danish Foreign Minister Anders Samuelsen, (at the Same Time Radian, as all the Danish Presidency's Diplomatic Team, here in Strasbourg, also because of the Coincidence with an UnExpected, landmark Win, 5 to 1, of the Danish National Team of Football, even while playing inside Ireland, Guaranteeing the Qualification for the "Mundial's" Finals, Later this Year, in Russia), has just Wowed to Fight for Fundamental Human Rights, while also Ambitionning to Re-Launch a Far-Reaching New Reform of the ECHR, at the Eve of a forthcoming CoE's New Summit on 2019, (See Infra).


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           - Samuelsen "Ensure(d) that we (Danish 2017-2018 Presidency) will do our Best to Assist the CoE in Serving its Founding Values, and to Preserve and Protect the Fundamental Values on which the CoE is Build".


    - Informed by "Eurofora" about EU Parliament President, Antonio Tajani's, Readiness to Cooperate also with the CoE, as he told us Yesterday, for a European/International Monitoring of the necessary Investigation in order to Find and Punish the Killers and Instigators of Investigative Web Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was recently Brutally Murdered by the Explosion of a Bomb in her Car at Malta, Triggering a Growing Series of EU/CoE's  Leaders' vibrant Condemnations, after also a Hot MEP's Debate, (See, f.ex. : http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/euparliamentpresidentoncoeandjournalistmurder.htm l +
http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/wejournalistmurder.html ), Samuelsen Heard Carefully, appeared to Start Considering that, Thoughtfull, and asked to give More Concrete Details on this affair also to the Diplomats of the Permanent Danish Delegation to the CoE in Strasbourg, as it was done.


     - "Freedom of Expression" (which includes Press Freedom), is cited as Number 1 among several "Fundamental Freedoms", of which, Danish feel to be "strong and committed defenders", according to the New CoE Presidency's Program for the Period of 11/2017-5/2018, that Samuelsen presented, Earlier Today, to CoE's Committee of Ministers.      

   

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    + On this occasion, the incoming Danish Presidency of the CoE, apparently Intends also to Re-Launch on 2018, as well as Add to the process of ECHR's Reform, which had Previously Started, initially from 2010 at a Miisterial Conference on ECHR at Interlaken (Switzerland : See "Eurofora"s NewsReports from the spot, among others, also, f.ex.: ..., + ..., etc), followed by Izmir (Turkey) on 2011, Brighton (UK) on 2012, up to Brussels (Belgium) on 2015.


    Indeed, already Interlaken had Adopted an overall Timetable Plan, according to which, CoE should Examine and Decide, Before 2019, (which coincides with a French Presidency of the CoE), whether the achieved ECHR's Reforms were Satisfactory and Sufficient, or if it might Need to Advance even Further, Towards New, Additional Targets to reach.


    Considering also the Fact that a New, PanEuropean COE's Summit of 47 Heads of States/Governments, is currently Expected for about 2019, (as the Incoming Danish ensured Today "Eurofora", saying that they consider such a Summit, now,very Probable), then, it's Natural to have Formed a Clear Understanding on the State of Play of the Overall Situation of the ECHR's actual functioning at least on 2018, (i.e. , just 1 Year Earlier)...

 

    => Thus, a Key Importance is attributed to a Top Legal CoE "Experts Conference", organized Next Week at Kokkedal (a City Near Copenhagen : distant only 20 minutes), on 22-24 November 2017, Symbolically entitled "2019 and Beyond : Taking Stock, and Moving Forward, from the Interlaken process" :


    >>> Indeed, as the Danish Presidency of the CoE told "Eurofora", "according to the Results" of that, Inter-Governemental Legal Experts' Conference, CoE is due to Decide whether, and how, an eventual "Political Declaration" on Reforming, may be even Further, the PanEuropean Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights, will, or not, be Taken during a Subsequent, "Ministerial" Meeting, scheduled in Denmark for April 2018, (i.e., Near the Eve of the 2019 CoE Summit : Comp. Supra).


    + In Fact, a main Intention of the incoming Danish CoE Presidency, (which had taken, Previously, the Precaution to Prepare its Draft Proposals on ECHR's reforms, already from the Beginning of 2016, and with several Visits and Contacts in Countries such as the UK, but also Germany etc), appears Twofold :


- Not Only "Take Stock" of the Progress achieved, concerning the Objectives which had been Fixed at     Interlaken (2010 : Comp. Supra);


+ but Also, to Consider eventual "Further Reforms" of the ECHR, related to "Chalenges" of "the Future", and/or the "Vision of an ECHR" Focused on "Serious and Widespread Violations, Systemic and Structural Problems, and on Important Issues concerning the Interpretation and Application" (by the ECHR) of the PanEuropean "Convention" on Human Rights. (In that case, due Attention should be taken to sufficiently Saveguard also the Individual Right for Application to ECHR against Violations of Human Rights, as many NGO's have already observed in the Past). As well as to "ensure Support" for it, while "Populations and Decision-Makers are Increasingly Questioning the Authority of the Convention System", (as the Danish Presidency notes in its Draft Program).

 

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    - Indeed, as the Outgoing, former CoE's rotating Chairman, Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek, (Comp., among his Replies to "Eurofora"s Questions also : ...., etc), in his Concluding Speech in Strasbourg, Earlier Today, stressed, inter alia, also the Fact that Recent Islamist "Terrorist Attacks and (UnPrecedented, sudden) Mass Migration", (particularly of that kind that was notoriously Selected and Smuggled into Europe by Turkish a.o. Traffickers since 2015-2016), have "Seriously Affected and Divided the European People" nowadays, as he Warned.


    Indeed, in such an Exceptional Context, it's obviously Easy to Guess, that, at least some, among ECHR's case-law Recent Extensive applications, might, eventually, appear as more or less excessive, Controversial, or even, perhaps, unjustified, at least to some People and/or Politicians in Europe nowdays, to the point that it might even provoke Sceptisicm, Negative reactions and/or loss of Trust, which could enDanger Core Human Rights, (particularly if such Problems might be Exploited by some Oppressive Groups and/or States) : As, f.ex., matters of Life or Death, Freedom or Slavery, Torture and Inhuman/Degrading Treatment (a "Classic" Priority of Danish CoE Presidencies, both in 2017/2018, as also more than 20 Years Ago, in the Past), Freedom of Expression, Family Life, Fair Trial, Private Property, Right to participate in Democratic Elections, and even some Elementary, Basic Social Rights of Vital Importance for People in real Need, etc.


    Even if this might Not concern particularly the current Danish CoE's Presidency, nevertheless, f.ex., Many Perople find very Controversial the Fact that some inside the ECHR have notoriously "Interpreted" recently the PanEuropean Convention's Article 12, on the "Right to Marry", in a so Extensive way, that, Instead of Focusing on Natural Couples of "Men and Women", as that Convention's Text Reads, (i.e. on Natural Marriage, generally able to give Natural Births), on the Contrary, they have Totally Ignored the Explicit Text of the Convention, (i.e. Silently Abrogated it !), and Allowed to Extend its application also Betwen Gays or Lesbians, including Submission of Children to the Power of Homosexual Couples under Pretext of "Adoption", and even went on as far as to Endorse Prosecutions, Threats, and Oppression of Liberties (including Financial a.o. Sanctions, Dismissals, Jailings/Imprisonments, etc) against Civil Servants a.o. who mightt try to express their Opposed Social and/or Religious Beliefs, trampled underfeet, (See, f.ex., several Cases in France, the USA, etc).


    => Therefore,  "Dialogue", particularly between COE's Commitee of Ministers (eventualy, even Civil Society, etx) and ECHR, about some "Interpretations" that EuroJudges use to give to the Original Text of the PanEuropean Convention for Human Rights, through the Developments of their Case-Law, is at the Forefront of this 2017-2018 Danish Presidency's priorities.


    - But, at the same time, the "Independence" of ECHR must be Saveguarded, the Dabish Presidency's paper admits.       


+ Last, but not least, "Third Party Interventions" in Cases pending at the ECHR, also by various Other Countries which might be Affected, in one way or another, by a Solution which could be given at an affair, may also come at the forefront of eventual ECHR Reforms, going Beyond the Interlaken process, Danish CoE Presidency sources told "Eurofora".


In the Past, Scandinavian Countries, including Denmark, had taken such an  Active Role in front of the ECHR mainly in order to Denounce some Exceptionaly Serious Violations of Human Rights, in cases such as Turkey, or the 7 Years period of the Colonels in Greece, etc.


The Last such Danish move was related to Torture cases inside Turkey, and, by a coincidence, had been close to the Previous Danish Presidency of the CoE from Strasbourg, Back more than 20 Years ago.


Nowadays, however, Samuelsen has, Recently, strongly Denounced as "UnAcceptable" the setting-up of a Systematic Spying Mechanism over European Citizens inside Europe itself, (through Turkish Consulates, and/or some "Imams" in Mosques controlled by the Turkish Government, special Phone Numbers for Delation, etc, as the relevant Scandals revealed in 2017 at Nearby Germany), in order to Inform a Foreign Government as Turkey, about Political Critics and Dissidents Opposed to Ankara's Controversial and notoriously Oppressive Policies. And he had Warned that, such an eventual activity would be considered as a Criminal Offense.


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    + On the Contrary, just after being Welcomed, meanwhile, Together with CoE's Secretary General, Thornbjorn Jagland, by the Head of Strasbourg City's European/International affairs service, the young Rafik Elmrini-Nawel, Samuelsen praised "Strasbourg" for being "not only a European City, but also a City of Europeans, Open and Inclusive, with Hospitality, which makes it a Perfect Home for both the CoE and EU Parliament", where "I was a Regular Guest, in my time as (former) MEP", until just a Few Years ago, and "it made a Big Impression on me. It's Hard to Imagine a Better basis for the task to Protect Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law", he stressed.

 

 

(../..)

 

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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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