Strasbourg, 1 September 2014 - At the 9th Internet Governance Forum (IGF) taking place from 2 to 5 September in Istanbul, the Council of Europe aims to trigger a debate on how to empower Internet users´ to exercise their human rights online. In an open forum on 3 September, the Council of Europe will address the issue and discuss how to apply its Guide to human rights for Internet users which was adopted by the 47 member states of the organisation on 16 April. The Council of Europe will also organise discussion on a report on ICANN´s procedures and policies in the light of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic values. The report concludes that ICANN´s current rules for creating new generic top-level domains (gTLDs) (which are the suffix at the end of domain names, for example com, info or org) do not fully comply with freedom of expression and privacy standards and contains recommendations on how to address this.
Special IGF file
Special Internet governance file
Strasbourg. 28.08.2014 “Intercultural dialogue: interaction between culture and religion”: in the framework of theAzerbaijani Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers, the 2014 Council of Europe Exchange on the religious dimension of intercultural dialogue will take place at the Hilton Baku Hotel, on 1-2 September 2014.
Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini Dragoni will open the event together with Kamal Abdulla (State Adviser on multinational, multicultural and religious affairs), Mubariz Gurbanly (Chairman of the State Committee on religious associations), and Sheikh-ul-Islam Allahshukur Pashazadeh (Grand Mufti of the Caucasus). Rafael Huseynov, Rapporteur of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media on “Freedom of religion and religious practices”, representative of the President of the Parliamentary Assembly and Jean-Claude Frécon, President of the Chamber of Local Authorities of the Congress will also be at the opening.
Azerbaijan has included the consolidation of culturally diverse societies based on mutual respect and understanding among the main priorities of its Chairmanship (14 May–13 November 2014), highlighting the role of intercultural dialogue to fight discrimination and intolerance in Europe.
The event will gather senior delegates of religious communities (Buddhists, Christians, Jews, Muslims), representatives of non-religious convictions, interreligious groups, NGOs, youth delegates, experts, academics, as well as mainstream media professionals and international organisations’ officials. (more...)
Strasbourg, 28/08/2014 – “Tens of thousands of persons remain missing and still haunt Europe decades after the demise of dictatorships and the end of armed conflicts. For example, Spain has yet to come to terms with its past and shed light on the fate of more than 150 000 persons who remain missing as a result of the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship. About 20 000 persons remain missing following the armed conflicts in Cyprus, the former Yugoslavia and the North and South Caucasus. Hundreds of enforced disappearances were documented in Turkey in particular following the 1980 military coup, as well as in early 1990s primarily in the south-eastern part of the country, many of which have not yet been elucidated. Of 16 persons who have been reported as gone missing during the conflict in Northern Ireland seven persons remain unaccounted for. While these cases remain unresolved, more cases of enforced disappearances have been reported in the ongoing conflict in Ukraine”, says Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in his latest Human Rights Comment published today.
30 August, the International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearance, is an appropriate day not only to reflect on these cases, but to renew our commitment to overcome the remaining obstacles in establishing the fate of missing persons. Thousands of families live in anguish, waiting and hoping to find out the truth about their loved ones. (more...)
Strasbourg, 26.08.2014 – B'Tselem Israeli Information Center for Human Rights (Israel), the Jesuit Refugee Service (Malta) and Anar Mammadli (Azerbaijan) are the three candidates shortlisted, in alphabetical order, in Prague today for the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2014.
The selection panel, comprising six independent experts and chaired by Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), drew up its shortlist from 56 candidatures who fulfilled the criteria for the Prize.
B'Tselem is the leading Israeli organisation with both Israeli and Palestinian members promoting human rights in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. It has endeavoured to document and educate the public and policymakers about all human rights violations, irrespective of who has committed them. B'Tselem sends hundreds of cases to the military and civil authorities demanding criminal investigations, monitoring all stages of the investigation and submitting legal appeals where possible. Each year it takes testimonies from victims and eye-witnesses of human rights violations. Recently it has pioneered an innovative video strategy, distributing video cameras in high conflict areas and training volunteers to use them to document incidents of violence.
The Jesuit Refugee Service Malta is the Maltese branch of the global Jesuit Refugee Service, a non governmental organisation working to protect the human rights of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants, through legal advice, psychosocial support and humanitarian assistance and through strategic litigation and advocacy. Much of its work is focused on detention centres, where staff and volunteers identify individual protection needs of detainees, provide them with information about asylum and immigration procedures, assess social, psychosocial and medical needs, and obtain the release of children, pregnant women and vulnerable persons.
Anar Mammadli is a prominent Azerbaijani human rights defender who has made an extensive contribution towards defending the right to free elections. (more...)
Strasbourg, 19.08.2014 - On Tuesday morning, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland sent a letter to Council of Europe foreign ministers drawing attention to the worsening situation of displaced persons and made the following statement:
“The humanitarian situation in eastern Ukraine is worsening day by day. Innocent people are being killed and wounded. The number of Internally Displaced Persons and refugees is rising dramatically. It is my responsibility as Secretary General of the Council of Europe to undertake every effort to assist our member States in ensuring that the rights guaranteed by the European Convention for Human Rights are effectively implemented, and to protect all displaced persons, regardless of who they are and where they live. That is why in my letter to Council of Europe foreign ministers today, I urge all member states to step up humanitarian aid in the region, in particular through the UNHCR and the International Red Cross and in co-ordination with the relevant national authorities”.
With reference to last Sunday’s meeting of foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, Germany and France in Berlin, Mr Jagland said: “I call on all parties to continue the dialogue towards finding a political solution to this crisis.”
Ukraine and the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 29.08.2014 - “I am gravely concerned by the reports of escalation of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine and its implications for the two member states of the Council of Europe, Russia and Ukraine,” said Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
“On Tuesday in Paris, I will meet with the Speaker of the Russian State Duma, Sergey Naryshkin, together with the leaders of the Parliamentary Assembly’s political groups. These increasingly worrying developments, including reports of direct involvement or Russian troops will certainly be on the agenda. I will also make contacts with the Speaker of the Ukrainian Verkhovna Rada, Oleksandr Turchynov, in order to obtain clarification of unfolding events in the region.” (more...)
Ukraine and the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 24 August 2014 - The 20th edition of the Sarajevo Film Festival which took place in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina from 15-23 August ended Saturday with the award ceremony:
"Song of My Mother" (co-production between Turkey, France and Germany) by Turkish Director Erol Mintaş won the Council of Europe sponsored award “Heart of Sarajevo” for the best feature film. In addition its lead actor, Feyyaz Duman was awarded the “Heart of Sarajevo for the Best Actor.”
The Sarajevo Film Festival, is supported by the Council of Europe and its support fund for European cinema, Eurimages.
Strasbourg, 28.08.2014 - In a report on Belgium published today, the Council of Europe Anti-Corruption Group (GRECO) calls for a reinforcement of its preventive measures concerning corruption within parliamentary and judicial institutions.
GRECO has noted the recent establishment of codes of deontology and a Federal Ethics Committee, as well as the introduction of preventive measures for federal parliamentarians which include a system for the declaration of donations, official appointments, other positions held and assets. However, the regulatory system suffers from a lack of effectiveness and sometimes appears to be unnecessarily complex.
In its evaluation report therefore, GRECO recommends to ensure that more coherent and effective regulations are put in place notably concerning gifts and other benefits, and also on how to engage in relations with third parties such as lobbies who would seek to influence the parliamentary process. Moreover, the system of declarations must be revised in order to include clearly the income and an estimate of the value of the assets of members of parliament, which should be made public and easily accessible.
The Belgian justice system can be seen to be independent and decentralised, but the lack of means and understaffing implies considerable recourse to lawyers to serve as magistrats (the concept refers to judges and prosecutors), which raises various questions. (more...)
Belgium and the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 20.08.2014 - Statement of Secretary General Jagland on recent events in Ferguson, Missouri, USA: “The recent violent events in Ferguson, Missouri, after the shooting of an unarmed teenager raise concern. I am particularly concerned by the reported use of excessive force by the police against peaceful protesters and their arrest, including journalists covering the events, as this undermines the full exercise of human rights, starting with the rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. These rights are cornerstones of democracy and any restriction should be lawful and proportionate. Both public authorities and protesters should show restraint and responsibility. I trust that a proper investigation will be carried out into the killing. When the USA became an observer State to the Council of Europe, it accepted to uphold the principles and values of our Organisation. I call upon US authorities to look into the socio-economic background for the reasons why so many peaceful protesters went to the streets”.
See also :
The United States and the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 11.08.2014 – Three candidates, representing different political positions, were generally able to campaign freely, and freedoms of assembly and association were respected in the 10 August presidential election in Turkey, international election observers said in a statement issued today. However, the Prime Minister’s use of his official position, along with biased media coverage, gave him a distinct advantage over the other candidates. (more...)
Turkey and the Council of Europe