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Home arrow newsitems arrow Bad Times for WhistleBlowers ? 2018 International Human Rights Foundation René Cassin ECHR contest

Bad Times for WhistleBlowers ? 2018 International Human Rights Foundation René Cassin ECHR contest

Written by ACM
Παρασκευή, 06 Απρίλιος 2018
echr_rene_cassin_2018_eurofora_400 

*Strasbourg/ECHR/Angelo Marcopolo/- Speaking to "Eurofora", International Human Rights' Foundation "René Cassin"'s Chairman, former Long-Time ECHR President, Professor Jean-Paul Costa, appeared Adamant :

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- "We did Not Judge the Content of this Case. If we had done that, the Outcome would, most probably, be quite Different !", he ensured us.


He was Replying to "Eurofora"s Questions about the UnExpected Award of the Prestigious, Annual "René Cassin" Contest's Prize for 2018, Not to the Team which pleaded for a persecuted and oppressed WhistleBlower sacrificing her career in order to Reveal a Big Scandal of Government-ordered Murders, But, on the Contrary, Surprisingly, to an Opposite Team of Young Jurists, who had seeked Justifications for such an awful Regime...


- In Fact, President Costa was pointing at the Same Direction with Strasbourg University's Professor Florence Rohmer-Benoit, who had just stressed, Earlier, to "Eurofora", that the Jury's Decision to give the "Rene Cassin" Award for 2018 to the Team which Defended that Controversial "Government", in the present Mock-Hearings at the ECHR, had mainly "Focused on their Way to Deal with the Legal Proceedings" in such kind of cases, in general, and Not on the Substance of the Particular (Imaginary) Affair, which had simply given a technical pretext for this Annual Competition.

professor_benoitrohmer_eurofora_400 


+ And, "indeed, there was an Overwhelming Majority, almost a quasi-unanimity on the Choice that we made" in Awarding the (2018) Prize to the Defenders, (i.e. the Team which represented the State whose Government had reportedly ordered targetted killings, and put Heavy Sanctions on the WhistleBlower who tried to Reveal that Scandal), said to "Eurofora" Harry Roselmack, a well known Black French Martinican TV Journalist himself too, (Radios, TF1, Euronews, etc), who had been Exceptionaly Chosen to Chair the ECHR Mock-Legal Hearing, (playing even the prestigious Role of ECHR's President !)..

 
cassin_2018__first_time_echr_had_a_black_president..._eurofora_400 



- So that, in Response to "Eurofora"s 2nd Question : - "But, aren't YOU Afraid to be Criticized by Most Collegue Journalists for Letting Down a Whistle-Blower, (who acted in the name of Freedom of Expression, in a case where a Journalist was Killed in suspicious circumstances) ?", (as we asked, Half Joking, Half Seriously), Roselmack (who has just Won a Prize in UK's "Chelsea Film Festival" for his 2017 new film "Fractures", around the Hard Issue of Deadly Islamist Terrorism's pernicious propaganda), reacted with very Calm Smile, pointing anew at what he presented as a "Widespread, General Feeling", among Most Members of the jury.             

chairing_journalist__roselmack_eurofora_400
(The 1st Black President of ECHR looks Friendly - René Cassin aiding...)


However, it's also a Fact that, at least at First Sight, a Strong Impression results by simply Reading the main Contents of the (Imaginary) Case chosen for 2018's Mock-Legal Proceedings inside the ECHR's great Chamber in Strasbourg, that the "Good" Guys, Obviously, couldn't Stand but Only in Favour of the Complaint lodged by the Whistle-Blower (a Young Woman Civil Servant at a Ministry, Fired, even Striped from her Nationality, and Prosecuted for Treason, etc), against the Government of a State seriously accused to have Ordered Targetted Killings of several Individuals, that some had Tried to timely Denounce in Public, through a Journalist (another Lady), who had, finally, been found Dead, Later-on, in non-elucidated circumstances...


A fortiori when that Complaint (mainly for Violations of the Human Rights to Freedom of Expression, Fair Trial, etc), had been quite Efficiently Presented, by a Team of Young Students of Law from the Angers University, who (by another Striking Coincidence) were All Young Ladies  : i.e. with more than 5 Women for a Total of 5 Persons on the "Good" Side of Supporters of the Truth... (Which, by the way, is also Feminine, as Word, in the Original French Language in which the "Rene Cassin" Annual Competition traditionally takes place, with the Participation of several Dozens of Universities almost from all over Europe and beyond, including this time, f.ex., in addition to Paris, Strasbourg, Grenoble, etc, also Switzerland, Bruges' "College of Europe", Romania, Armenia, the Netherlands/Maastricht, Brussels, Moscow, etc, among the Finalists).

 


f._coe_director_hr_boillat__eurofora_400


- But, as also the Experienced, former Long-Time CoE's Director-General on Legal and Human Rights issues, Philippe Boillat from Switzerland, (a Member of Today's "Court" in ECHR's main Room), agreed with "Eurofora", it's precisely this rare Overload so Many "Good" Arguments and Noble Values to support, from the Side of that WhistleBlower's Legal Complaint on Basic Human Rights grounds, that might have Incited its Team to Rely, perhaps, too much, on the intrinseque Value of the Content of its Cause, that it looked a little-bit ...Too Calm and almost Sure to Win.


- While, on the Contrary, the obviously too "Hard" job of the Adverse Team : that of the Defenders of the above-mentioned State's Government, who were Obliged to represent, apparently, the "Bad" Guy, (i.e. a Government seriously accused to Order Targetted Killings, and harshly persecutes the WhistleBlower who dares Reveal that Scandal in the Public : Comp. Supra), seems to have kind of ...Stimulated the Other 2 Young Students of Law, (them : All Young Men !), Obliging them to Make much More and Hard Efforts, Struggling with even more Fighting Spirit, etc., in order to Try to Face the Huge Challenge that they were Facing in such a thorny affair...


+ Moreover, they (as Real Human Persons), were ... "Innocent" themselves, since their assigned Role as Legal Defenders of that State, had Not been Freely Chosen, But, on the Contrary, it had been Imposed upon them, "by Drawing Lots", as the Chairwoman of this 2018 "René Cassin" International Competition, Professor in Law, Peggy Ducoulombier, said to "Eurofora".


>>> And, Indeed, one main Line that they adopted in Defense, was, apparently, Inspired by the Substance of Ducoulombier's own PhD Thesis, which she had dedicated to the analysis of "Contradictions Between Human Rights" ! (here at the ECHR, for Strasbourg's University, where she returned after Working also in Scotland/Aberdeen, UK, with American/USA Universitarians, as well as the CoE itself, etc)...


=> Thus, f.ex., to the Freedom of Expression, they Opposed the Protection of Private/Family Life and of Personal Data, (f.ex. even of the State Agents supposed to have been Ordered to facilitate of commit Targetted Killings, but Risked to see their own Family Home Address, Mobile Phone, etc. thrown to the Public, etc), as well as, (Most of all), that State's Duty to "Protect its Citizens from the Dangers of Violent (and often Deadly) Terrorism", as they repeatedly Claimed.


+ In Addition, the overall Method that had been Chosen by the Organizers this Time (for the 2018 Competition), by Exceptionaly Giving to All the Members of the "Court" to Raise and Ask Questions at Both Sides (Complaint and Defense) at Any Moment they wanted, During this Hearing's Plaidoyeries, (Something which is normaly Excluded at a Real ECHR Hearing, where Euro-Judhes can Ask Questions Only AFTER the End of the Oral Presentations initially Made by the Parties), indeed, considerablly Contributed into Making this Hearing much more "Sharp" than usual, almost Constantly requiring from Both Teams of Young Students of Law to remain at the "Cutting Edge", Ready to React Fast, Right, and Strong...


>>> A Culminating point was, at the very End of that Debate, the Replies given to a Key Question, of General Interest, about IF, and How, that WhistleBlower might, eventually, have some Other Means, Less Controversial, to Reveal to the Public those reportedly Planned Killings, in  a Timely and Efficient Way ?

 

 cassin__complaint___finalists_team_eurofora_400

 

- From the Side of the Legal Complaint (i.e. speaking for that WhistleBlower), the Obvious Answer was "NO" : F.ex., in such a case, the Defence Minister (accused to Order the Killings) was Out of Question, his Chief of Staff had No real Independence, the Minister of Justice could Not be Trusted to act as he should, and even the Attorney General wasn't really 100% Independent nor fully reliable, (etc). So, it was Just the Press (the Journalist who curiously Died, Shortly Afterwards) that had the Practical Capacity, Independence and Will to Help reveal the Truth to the People.

 

cassin__defenfers_winner_team__closer_eurofora_400 


- But, from the Side of the Legal Defense (i.e. speaking for the respondent State), they were, obviously, Obliged to Strongly Fight Back : It was their Last Chance... Among Many and Various Other Arguments, (more or less unconvincing to "Eurofora"s view), what Singlet out was, particularly, the Reply given as far as it concerned the Possibility to Alert the Attorney General : - Indeed, he would be, in Principle, more Independent than Others, (Comp. Supra), from a fully Hierarchical Subordination, he even had a Legal Duty to act for the General Interest, and, Moreover, he (as a fully-fledged Jurist) would have Certainly taken, at least, the elementary Precaution to Distinguish and CHOOSE, among All those Numerous Data contained in the Papers that the WhistleBlower simply Photo-Copied as such, and Gave to the Press, Only those really Needed in order to Prove the Scandal of those Ordered Killings, while, on the Contrary, Ommitting to make public, i.e. Protecting Any Other Data of Private, Personal or Professional Nature, concerning several Individual Agents of the State, simply Ordered to do this or that, by their Superior (Comp. Supra), as well as any Other Delicate Secret of State, which might, eventually, be Necessary for the National Defense and/or National Security, as well as its Citizens Protection from Terrorism.

+ But, when "Eurofora", shortly Afterwards, discreetly Questioned Both Teams on what they thought about the Real Independence of an Attorney General in such kind of cases, the Reply from the Legal Complaint's side (for the WhistleBlower) Simply was that "it Depends on the National Legislation of Each Country", and that from the Legal Defense (for the respondent State) merely was, in substance : - "But, at least, he is a Magistrate !" I.e., something which, honestly, more or less Deceived us, apparently still Leaving that Question Open to Necessary Debate...

 

cassin_top_winner__yannis_berthelier_eurofora_400 

=> What a Surprize, then, when, Shortlty Afterwards, we shaw our Main Interlocutor from the Side of the Winners of this 2018 Contest, i.e. the "Defending" Team, (that of "Jean Monnet" University from Saint-Etienne), a Young Student in Law mysteriously named "Yannis Berthelier" (naturally looks like Franco-Greek, but he Laughed several Times, playing with "No !", when we asked, until a Young Lady who knew him told us that it's rather True..), who Finally Received, Personally, the Greatest Honor, (Officially attributed by the President of the "René Cassin" International Foundation for Human Rights, f. ECHR President, Professor Jean-Paul Costa himself), that of the 2018 Prize "for the Best (Legal) Eloquence"...


The Event (including the Official Distribution of All Other relevant Awards to the recipients : i.e. Winners, Finalists, Team, Participation, etc, including a Weekly Training Invitation at the prestigious French "Conseil d' Etat" in Paris, etc), took place (as it's traditionally used) at the Superbe, Brand New main Room of the "Great East" Region, (Alsace+Lorraine+Champagne+Ardennes), which links, since 2015, Five core European Countries Together, through joint Borders at the historic "Heart" of Europe (France, Germany, Switzerland, Luxembourg and Belgium, timely Facilitating Links between UNO's PanEuropean Headquarters at Geneva, Strasbourg's European Institutions, Luxembourg's EU Court, and Brussels), located Nearby.

 
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+ There, all Participants were warmly Welcomed by the vice-President of that New and Big "Great East" Region, the young Elsa Schalck, Jurist herself, who Linked the European Project with Peace, mainly through Human Rights and Democracy, urged the Young Students in Law to Remember Well what they learned and/or will learn about these Values, when they shall be Called to Use them as Lawyers throughout the Courts, later on, and Concluded with a Balanced Call to Never Forget the Fact that "Human Rights canNot Exist withOut Rule of Law", as she significantly said.

great_east_region_v.president_elsa_schalck_eurofora_400


- Elsa Schalck, speaking afterwards to "Eurofora", indeed, Stressed that, as a Lawyer herself, Based in front of the Historic Franco-German Borders near Strasbourg, she Strongly Believed that the appropriate development of a Human Rights/Rule of Law joint Culture and practice, at EU's and €uroArea's Core, including through Training Young Students in Law, i.e. mostly Future Lawyers, etc., has become, Nowadays, really a "must" for all involved in Europe's foreseable Future.

By the way, the Fact that the Annual International "Rene Cassin" Human Rights Competition traditionally takes place, each Year, on a New, but purely "Imaginary" Case, Faithfully and Accurately immitating ECHR's normal Legal Proceedings, (But, naturally, often, "Inspired" by the Actural Reality in Nowadays Society), did Not Hinder, the Experienced former Long-Time Director-General on Legal and Human Rights issues, Philippe Boillat from Switzerland, while Speaking with "Eurofora" and Top Winner Yannis Berthelier (Comp. Supra), etc. to Sincerely Raise a, obviously Capital Question, which was, indeed, always kept in our mind :


- "But, Curiously, Nobody did Not Raise yet the Issue of the Fate of that Journalist (in this Year's Mock-Case) who was found Dead (Comp. Supra) !"


Both "Eurofora" and Yannis Berthelier, surprized, but inevitably Moved, raised their eyes, thougtfully...


=> After all, as they use to say, in such "René Cassin" International  Human Rights Annual Contests : - "It May Happen, Tomorrow, Really to You !"

 

 

(../..)
 


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***
 


("DraftNews", as already Send to "Eurofora" Subscribers/Donors earlier. A more accurate, full Final Version, might be published asap).
 


***



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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)..
-------------------------
    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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