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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
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    - "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.
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    (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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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 ?
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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", ...

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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..

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"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

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"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"

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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...

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