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Home arrow newsitems arrow PACE Bureau endorsed Motion on Refugees/IDPs Human Rights as key for Peace, backed by ECHR President

PACE Bureau endorsed Motion on Refugees/IDPs Human Rights as key for Peace, backed by ECHR President

Written by ACM
Sunday, 01 February 2009
coe_refugees__peace_equation_400_01


    - "The recent Georgia - Russia conflict showed that protracted situations where Displaced persons' Human Rights are not respected, ..may become dangerous for Peace", anywhere among CoE member Countries", said to "EuroFora" the President of PACE Refugees, Migration and Population Committee, Dutch MEP Mrs Corian JONKER, who drafted the Motion.    On the contrary, "if we (CoE) succceed to highlight enough Displaced persons' Rights, then, this may help to find agreed Solutions''', she added

     Her Draft was signed by many MEPs including all Chairmen of PACE's Political Groups, (EuroLeft's COX, Socialists' GROSS, Liberals' EORSI, ChristianDemocrats/EPP's Van den BRANDE and Democrats' WILSHIRE), in a rare unanimity on Principles from the Right to the Left of all the political spectrum...

    Assembly's Bureau endorsed the Motion on "Protecting the human rights of long-term displaced persons in Europe", Friday in Strasbourg, in view of a crucial session of the PanEuropean Parliamentary Assembly on the State of Human Rights in Europe scheduled for June.

    The move was backed by ECHR's President, Jean-Paul COSTA speaking to "EuroFora" : - "Yes, of course", he agreed with our question if "respect for Refugees/IDP's Human' Rights could facilitate Peace Solutions", as this Motion believes.

    The contrary, i.e. "neglecting the interests of IDPs carries a real Political Risk that Frozen Conflicts associated with them can re-ignite at any time", warns MEPs' Motion. "Continued international indifference to long-term displacement situations can lead to renewed conflict, significant loss of life and the displacement of many more people from their homelands".

    - "Scattered in 11 of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe" (almost 1 in 4 : 20%), "the unresolved situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs)", led to "regular expressions of concern" by CoE's Assembly, which " has consistently called on governments to seek durable solutions for the return of the displaced and to guarantee the protection of their rights", stresses the Motion from the outset. This "includes: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia”, Moldova, Russia, Serbia and Turkey".

    Some 3 million People "remain displaced" in CoE's area, "99% of whom fled their Homes" 15 to 35 years ago "as a result of Conflicts", "and most of them have settled elsewhere than their places of origin". "The Majority of the displaced ...struggle to enjoy their rights and are marginalised by disregard or for failure to protect their human rights, in particular economic, social and cultural rights"..

    From Russian President MEDVEDEV, to Croatian Prime Minister SANADER, several Chiefs of State or Government have officially accepted the Principle of IDP's return, despite problems on the spot. But others still abstain or refuse to do so..

    While things evolve slowly in the Balkans, Cyprus' reunification Peace Talks started to deal with Refugees/IDP's issues, where classic differencies have to be overcome, and ECHR's judgements to be clarified and applied also on Cyprus' territories occupied by Ankara's troops.

    - But "Refugees and IDPs must also be associated and actively involved, in one way or another, to Negotiations on their Future : It would be an error to totally ignore their views", warned "EuroFora" also Draftswoman JONKER, as President of CoE Assembly's competentCommittee.    


    CoE''s Member "States" must "inform and involve IDPs on all relevant steps, and to the extent possible, provide them the opportunity to participate in Decisions affecting them", Motion says.

    "As regards Political Solutions", CoE's Ministers should "step up efforts aimed at the peaceful settlement of the conflicts ... with a view to guarantee Return of all refugees and displaced persons to their places of origin if they so wish". Therefore, CoE should "work with respective governments and international actors towards creating durable Solutions for the Displaced, with a particular focus on planning for Returns, and for Property Restitution or Compensation"

    The Motion "calls upon member States" to "ensure the Safety and security of IDPs, particularly at locations of Return". To "fully respect the voluntary .. Return", and "to Restitute Property".  "CoE must contribute more effectively towards creating sustainable conditions for safe Return of IDPs", and  "raise awareness on the existing protection mechanisms under the European Convention on Human Rights", which developed a pioneer case-law in Strasbourg, cited as an example throughout the World, since 1996-2009.

    - The Human "Right of IDPs to choose between Return to their Homes, local integration at the site of displacement, or Resettlement to another part of the Country must be respected. That choice must be voluntary and informed", CoE's Motion stresses.

    - "IDPs should not be used as political pawns" : ."In the absence of political settlements, (temporary) ...local integration is not necessarily incompatible with return" : "Enabling the displaced to lead a normal life, and protecting their right to return, are not mutually exclusive". While "governments should not deny the scale of displacement ...and direct international attention elsewhere".

    CoE's Motion also asks to " fight against the Impunity for Violations suffered by many IDPs", and urges CoE's member States "to investigate and bring to Justice the Perpetrators of Human Rights Violations and Crimes committed during the various armed Conflicts that have led to displacements".
    
    This is part of PACE's intention to focus, at its June 2009 session, on the struggle against Impunity.
---------------------------

    (PHOTO, above : The "Jonker Equation" : 5 Political Group Leaders and ECHR's President backing Refugees' Human Rights and Peace, will succeed to find solutions ?)

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ECHR's President to "EuroFora" on Journalists Gongadze and Adali murders : Principles must apply to all States, without discrimination.


+ ECHR's Statistics on Freedom of Expression (See below).


 European Court of Human Rights' President, Jean-Paul Costa, questioned by "EuroFora" on Journalists' murders, as in Gongadze and Adali's cases etc., strongly stressed all CoE Member States' obligation to make efficient Investigations to find and punish those responsible, and underlined that ECHR's case-law's principles must apply to all without any discrimination.

His call was clearly supported by various Top MEPs who denounced a risk of "Double Standards" if some Journalists' murders are investigated, while others don't.

To avoid such risks, CoE's Parliamentary Assembly adopted a Resolution, on the occasion of Ukranian Journalist Gongadze's murder, "stressing", as a matter of general Principle, "the importance it attaches to the safety of Journalists and political activists, especially those linked to opposition groups, in ALL member states of the CoE". All "crimes against journalists and political activists must be investigated ... as a matter of priority, without political interference".

Costa was replying to "EuroFora"s question on the fact that, after CoE's Committee of Ministers, also CoE's Assembly had just adopted a Resolution on Gongadze murder case, based on an ECHR's judgement of 2005, asking a full Investigation from Ukraine, who has found and condemned  in 10 years of jail 2 executants, but not yet the instigators.

While nothing similar was yet done for dissident Turkish Cypriot Kutlu Adali's murder, with 5 bullets shot at his head out of his Family's home in the territories of Cyprus occupied by Ankara's army, despite another ECHR's judgement of the same year 2005, and despite Turkey's claim that nobody was found among those responsible for the murder, and that there was nothing more to do..

In order to be credible and efficient, CoE's mechanisms shouldn't find a way to at least ask for full investigations of all Journalists' murders anywhere they might be committed, without exceptions ?

adali_gongadze


- "On the larger question that you raised, I'd like to say, since we are in a period of stock-taking on ECHR's 50 Years, that the Court's case-law developed certain concepts ....such as the Positive obligations of States, part of which are also the procedural obligations", started to reply ECHR's President.

 - "Whenever Journalists, Lawyers, Defenders of Human Rights, or even simple Citizens are murdered, the States are held responsible, not only if its their own security forces' agents who committed these murders, but also if they didn't make sufficiently substantial and efficient Investigations", he stressed.

- "I want to strongly underline that we (ECHR) have found in many cases numerous violations of Articles 2 and 3 against States, ....(about) murders or torture, ...because they didn't make enough Investigations in order to try to find and punish those responsible".

- "We (ECHR) do that vis-a-vis all 47 (CoE) Member States, without any discrimination".

"Naturally, the circumstances in each particular case may be differend, and we can't ommit to apply the rules of proof, or the rules of criminal procedure".

"But we try, by all means, to apply these principles of our case-law, to all States", he concluded.

imag0335_400


      Costa's call was strongly supported by several Top CoE MEPs, from various Political areas


- "To investigate the murder of one Journalist, and not of another, looks like Double Standards", denounced the President of EuroLeft Group in CoE's Assembly, Dutch MEP Tiny Cox.  

- "What is the reason ? Politics or specificity of a case ? Of course, if Cyprus and Turkey are involved, it's always a Political case"..

- "Murders of Journalists should always be fully investigated, because killing Journalists is not only killing persons, but also killing Free Press".  "We (CoE's Assembly) should do our outmost to help People who are working on Free Press and they are under threat or murdered".

Because for Free Politics, Free Press is a pre-requisitive : Parliamentarians  cannot  function without a Free Press. Not investigating, is not protecting ourselves".

So we should investigate all Journalists' murders : We are talking about Gongadze, about the Cypriot man (Adali), about the Journalist murdered in Moscow one week ago, etc", Cox concluded

- "CoE can' look at these cases differently. CoE can't wear Blinckers  !".
- "If the one is investigated, so has to be also the other. Why there wasn't full investigation ? Why's that ?", wondered British  Socialist MEP, Alan Meale.

- "A good idea" would be to "make a Motion for Resolution", and "join all Journalists' murders. Adali and Gongadze etc", said to "EuroFora" EU Parliament Political affairs Committee's President, Goran Lindbland, ChristianDemocrat MEP from Sweden.


(See also earlier News at "EuroFora" on similar issues).
-------------------------------

ECHR's Statistics on Freedom of Expression :


    Almost Half of condemnations by ECHR for violations of Freedom of Expression in 2008, concern Turkey : 20 out of a total of 48 for all CoE's Member States.

    Russia, Poland, France and Moldova were condemned only 3 times. Romania, Greece, Portugal, 2 times, and the other CoE Member States only 1 time, or none.
--------------------
    During the last Decade : 1998 - 2008, Turkey was condemned for violating Freedom of Expression in ..169 cases, while Austria only in 24.

    France and Moldova in 14 and 13, respectively, closely followed by Russia and Poland with 11 and 10, respectively. The rest of CoE Member States had less than ten condemnations.    
    

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