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Home arrow newsitems arrow ECHR President Raimondi to EF on Discretionary Power: Decision-Making proces(Dialogue State-Citizen?

ECHR President Raimondi to EF on Discretionary Power: Decision-Making proces(Dialogue State-Citizen?

Parašė ACM
Thursday, January 25, 2018

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*Strasbourg/ECHR/Angelo Marcopolo/- Replying to an "Eurofora"s Question at the Annual Press Conference of ECHR, its experienced President, Guido Raimondi from Italy, explained that the PanEuropean Court of Strasbourg "is Developing" quite wide possibilities for Judicial Control of Public Authorities' Discretionary Power, in order to Prevent eventual Abuse vis a vis Citizens, inter alia, also by imposign the Respect of a Number of Rules, concerning the Decision-Making process of any Public Administration, (f.ex., Prior Information of affected Citizens, Contradictory Procedure, Sufficient and Correct Motivation of Decisions, etc), i.e. in a way quite similar to an elementary Dialogue between States and Citizens Before Taking Important Decisions which Affect their Lives and/or Society at large, as "Eurofora"s Wider Project and Views support since a long time.


Such ECHR's moves (that President Raimondi analyzed here in a Crystal-clear way) coincide also with Both relevant EU Developments, particularly since Lisbon Treaty, as well as with even more Recent COE's PanEuropean Legal Space's own developments, as "Eurofora" has already Highlighted recently, (See, f.ex.: http://www.eurofora.net/newsflashes/news/coeruleoflawchecklistandeuroforaproject.html, etc).


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- In our Question, "Eurofora" started by pointing at the Fact that : -"A Few Months ago, in Strasbourg, CoE's Parliamentary Assembly endorsed a Measure adopted by the Venice Commission, (supported also by the Congress of Local/Regional Authorities of Europe : CLRAE), which concerns a General Mechanism, for All (COE's 47) Member Countries, about the relations between Citizens and Public Authorities, in order to Prevent Risks of Abuse of Discretionary Power."


- "I.e. when a State can Decide Whatever they like, in the Substance of the matter, But has to Respect a Series of (Decision-Making Process') Rules, that we know also in Adminstrative Law : As, f.ex., to Inform the Persons involved, to Hear them Before it Decides, to present a Motivation that is Sufficient, (Legally and Factaully) Correct, etc", we explained in this regard.  

 

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 - "Obviously, it's Not Directly and Explicitly Linked with some ECHR Articles. But, according to your Experience, is there Something - or there Might be Something, Hopefully - inside the PanEuropean Mechanism for Human Rights, - as there are some Similar things in EU Law, after Lisbon Treaty (EIF : 2010) - which Could Develop, in the foreseable Future, a kind of Guarantee against Abuse of Discretionary Power ?", "Eurofora" asked ECHR President Raimondi.


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- ECHR's President reacted Positively, as he said, - "On your Interesting Question, concerning (Public Authorities') Discretionary Power, and possible Control by our (PanEuropean) Court :"


- "This is an Interesting Question, especialy Because the Range of (Public) Administrative activities, and the Role of the State in the Social Life, Developed and Increased, across the board, in CoE's 47 Member States, in Recent Years", Raimondi observed from the outset.


 - "But we (ECHR) have Developed a quite Rich Jurisprudence on that Issue : "


 - Even if, as "You Know, UnLike of Article 47 of (EU's) Charter of Fundamental Rights, which Covers All sorts of Jurisdiction (i.e. also Administrators, and Not only Judges), Our (CoE's) corresponding Provision in the (PanEuropean) Convention (on Human Rights), i.e. Article 6, (which is) Providing Guarantees of "Fair Trial", does Not Apply to All Forms of Jurisdictional Proceedings".


 - "So, in order to Trigger the Protection of Article 6, you Need Either a writer Obligation of a Civil Rights, or an Accusation in Criminal matters. Of course, these 2 Noions are developed Autonomously by the Case-Law of ECHR",  (which, therefore, can have a Wider Scope of Action, if it wishes so : See Infra).


=> "In this connection, the activity of the Public Administration may Fall Within he Scope of Application of Article 6 : Either Because a Civil Right is at Stake , either because what is considered as an Administrative Action in the National Law, is considered, in the Autonomous Evaluation of ECHR, (Comp. Supra), as a <<Criminal Sanction>>, which Triggers the Protection of Article 6".


 - "Of course, it's a Delicate Question, Because we are confronted with the Theory of Separation of Powers. So, we (ECHR) Require that, when Article 6 Applies, the Judge has to have what we call "Full Jurisdiction". But this has to be understood with Caution, when it comes to the Control of Activities of the Public Administration", he warned. "Because of the (Constitutional) Principle of Separation of Powers".


 - "We (ECHR) have developed a Rich Jurisprudence on this : I'd say, the Most Important Case in this direction is "Sigma TV against Cyprus", that you may know", President Raimondi indicated.


 - "And there are a Number of Principles, which have been developed, in this connection : One of them, is, for instance, that, if the Judicial Body, which is called upon to Review judicially the Behavior of the Public Administration, has Not the Power to Assess the Facts, and canNot Rely on an Independent Assessment of the Facts, that is, for instance, a Problem, in the context of Article 6 !", he pointed out. "And this is one the Examples".


 - "So, the (ECHR's relevant) Jurisprudence is, Already, Rich, and it is Developing".


 - F.ex., "there is a Case which is Pending : Ramos Nunes v. Portugal", which will be Delivered in the Forhcoming Months, by the Court, and may provide some Further Clarification on that Issue", he Announced in fine.

 

+ As for a Comparison with the relevant EU Law, the presence of ECJ's President, Tomorrow in Strasbourg, at the Official Opening of the New Judicial Year of 2018, (on the occasion of which, is organized a Timely Seminaire focused on "the Authority of Judicial Power" : Comp. Supra), might be very Interesting, potentially, in this regard too. ECHR and ECJ have indeed, Recently developed a very close Cooperation, President Raimondi stressed earlier Today.

 

 

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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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