Strasbourg, 23.09.2014 - The Council of Europe’s group of experts on human trafficking, GRETA, has published its first reports on Andorra, Iceland, Italy, San Marino and Ukraine.
The reports look at the extent to which each of the five countries comply with the Council of Europe’s 2005 Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.
GRETA notes that Andorra is about to adopt legislation criminalising human trafficking and calls for this to be done without delay. GRETA also underlines the need to raise awareness of trafficking both among the general public and among professionals who are likely to come into contact with victims.
Concerning Iceland, GRETA urges the authorities to set up a formalised national referral mechanism for victims and to address trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation. Attention should also be paid to identifying victims among unaccompanied children, migrant workers and asylum seekers.
GRETA stresses the need for a comprehensive national anti-trafficking action plan in Italy, as well as a country-wide identification and referral system for victims. GRETA also underlines the importance of better co-ordination among those who are involved in fighting trafficking.
Further awareness-raising measures are also needed in San Marino, according to GRETA, and steps should be taken to systematically provide information to foreigners employed as domestic workers, carers or seasonal workers both on their rights and on the risks of trafficking.
Finally, the report on Ukraine highlights the need to address emerging trends such as the increase in trafficking for labour exploitation, internal trafficking and trafficking of foreign nationals into the country. GRETA is deeply concerned by the consequences of the current crisis in Ukraine on anti-trafficking activities and the growing number of people who are vulnerable to trafficking.
The Council of Europe convention is a legally-binding treaty which sets out a series of measures to help prevent trafficking, protect victims and prosecute offenders. It has so far been ratified by 41 of the Council of Europe’s 47 member states, plus Belarus.
Andorra and the Council of Europe
Iceland and the Council of Europe
Italy and the Council of Europe
San Marino and the Council of Europe
Ukraine and the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 19.09.2014 – “Following a widespread democratic debate, held peacefully according to the institutional rules of the United Kingdom, the people of Scotland have expressed their views massively and freely. This referendum is a victory for democracy based on the rule of law,” stated Herwig van Staa, President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.
“British democracy is to be congratulated on holding this vast debate, which was, in many aspects, a challenge for all the nations of the kingdom.
The Congress respects the choice made by the Scottish voters. We support strong regional self-government, respecting everyone’s traditions. But we hope that this regional self-government can develop within the national framework, in close synergy with central government. (more...)
United Kingdom and the Council of Europe
Macolin, 18.09.2014 - Addressing the conference of European sports ministers in Switzerland, Thorbjørn Jagland, called on all governments to sign and ratify the new Council of Europe convention against the manipulation of sports competitions. This Convention is a major step forward to promote the integrity of sport and sports ethics, he said.
In his speech delivered to some 30 ministers and state secretaries, representatives of the sport movement and of international partner organisations, he underlined that sport is a unique tool to promote values and educate future generations about their rights and responsibilities. “The essence of sport is grounded in diversity, respect and tolerance for oneself and others. It is based on fair competition.”
Corruption undermines sports and people’s trust in sports organisations. Through the rules the Council of Europe sets, it contributes to better governance of sports, with the aim of making sport more fair, more transparent and more ethical, he concluded.
Statement by the Secretary General
Integrity in sport and corruption to be focus of Conference of Ministers for Sport in Switzerland
Opening statement by Ueli Maurer
Opening statement by Azad Rahimov
Statement by Anne Brasseur
Statement by Matthias Remund
Strasbourg, 17.09.2014 – In a speech addressed to the Council of Europe anti-money laundering and counter terrorist financing body MONEYVAL, Her Majesty Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, in her capacity as United Nations Secretary General´s Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development, today recalled the need for accessible financial services.
Speaking to MONEYVAL´s 45th plenary meeting – which is being held from 15 to 19 September - Queen Máxima underlined the role the 33 MONEYVAL states and territories can play in improving access to financial services and pointed out that the existing legal instruments allow states to ensure that the fight against money laundering and the promotion of inclusive finance complement each other.
Queen Máxima mentioned in her speech that it is very important to strike the right balance between security measures and access to formal financial services, and that MONEYVAL´s role in taking a holistic approach towards integrity and inclusion is of great value.
As the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Advocate for Inclusive Finance for Development (UNSGSA), Queen Máxima has a leading role in increasing awareness about the essential role of financial services in alleviating poverty, fostering equitable economic growth, and furthering diverse development goals including environmental sustainability, food security, clean water, good health and universal education.
During her visit to Strasbourg, Queen Máxima paid courtesy visits to the Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and the Parliamentary Assembly President Anne Brasseur.
Link to the speech
Strasbourg, 16.09.2014 - In a report published today, the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) says that there are positive developments in Switzerland but that some concerns remain, including the rise of xenophobia and discrimination against LGBT persons, and insufficient support for the integration of some migrants.
ECRI welcomes the fact that, at cantonal level, new institutions have been given the task of assisting victims of racism and discrimination and that several media combat hate speech on their websites. The Confederation and the cantons have adopted integration programmes and a system of indicators will measure their impact. Steps have been taken to ensure early education for children with a migrant background.
At the same time, Switzerland has not enacted effective legislation to combat racism and discrimination. Victims cannot submit a complaint to a body specialised in combating racism and discrimination everywhere in the country. Due to the xenophobic evolution of political discourse, several vulnerable groups experience significant deterioration in their living conditions. Young lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons are often victims of hate speech. (more...)
Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Slovenia
Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission report on Bulgaria: some progress achieved but problems remain
Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission publishes new report on Slovakia
The Council of Europe and Switzerland
Vatican City (Holy See), 20.09.2014 – Pope Francis received Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland today in a private audience.
Secretary General Jagland also met with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. They focused on the situation in Europe and the relationship between the Council of Europe and the Holy See, which was granted Observer status in 1970.
Secretary General Jagland thanked His Holiness for his appeal for European solidarity with countries around the Mediterranean to secure a human treatment of refugees. Mr Jagland invited His Holiness to the Council of Europe.
Pope John-Paul II visited the Council of Europe in October 1988, on the eve of the Organisation’s 40th anniversary.
Holy See and the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 18.09.2014 - The Council of Europe’s Ministers’ Deputies reviewed the situation in Ukraine at their meeting on 17 September, on the basis of the report presented by the Secretary General on his visits to Kyiv and Moscow on 2-4 September.
In their decision, the Ministers’ Deputies welcomed the Protocol signed in Minsk on 5 September 2014 and called on all parties to strictly respect and fully implement all twelve principles of the Protocol without delay.
In this context, they urged the Russian Federation to withdraw all its troops from Ukraine and to refrain from any further interference in this member country, stressing that the crisis can only be solved on the basis of the principles of the peaceful settlement of disputes.
The Ministers’ Deputies also encouraged the Secretary General to continue to assist the Ukrainian authorities in the conduct of the necessary internal reforms, in particular regarding the Constitution, the judiciary, decentralisation and the protection of persons belonging to national minorities. (more...)
The Russian Federation and the Council of Europe
Ukraine and the Council of Europe
Strasbourg. 17.09.2014 – The international conference Safe from Fear, Safe from Violence: Celebrating the entry into force of the Istanbul Convention (Rome, Friday 19th September, 10 am, Aula Gruppi parlamentari, via Campo di Marzio, 78), is an event co-organised by the Italian Chamber of Deputies, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation and the Council of Europe.
Strasbourg, 17.09.2014 - A current affairs debate on the crisis in Ukraine and a debate on countering neo-Nazism – with the participation of the Speaker of the Norwegian Parliament Olemic Thommessen – are among highlights of the autumn session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg, from 29 September to 3 October 2014.
An urgent debate on "Threats posed by the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) and violence against Christians and other religious communities" has also been requested.
A ceremony on the opening day of the session will see the award of the second Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize to one of three shortlisted nominees – Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem, Malta’s Jesuit Refugee Service or Azerbaijani human rights defender Anar Mammadli. The €60,000 prize honours outstanding civil society action in the defence of human rights in Europe and beyond. (more...)
Strasbourg, 16 September 2014 - Presenting his agenda for the next five years to the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers today, Secretary General Jagland gave top priority to the implementation of the European Human Rights Convention (ECHR) and decisions of the European Court of Human Rights in the member states.
“The aim must be to put in place legislation in all our member States which is in conformity with the ECHR and to make sure that judicial bodies are established at national level to examine individual complaints based on the case law in Strasbourg”, he said. Mr Jagland welcomed the Belgian government's intention to hold a high-level Conference on the implementation of the Convention in March 2015 as part of its Council of Europe Chairmanship.
Mr Jagland put forward new proposals in the areas of freedom of expression, democratic participation and Roma.
Modelled on the UN's “Human Development Index” he proposed a Council of Europe Participation Index, to assess democratic participation of citizens in political and social life. “The idea is to set up an objective analytical tool, created to combine separate indicators into a single expression” he said.
In the area of freedom of expression, the Secretary General intends to develop and online inventory of cases of violence and intimidation against journalists developed in close co-operation with journalists' associations.
For early 2015, he announced the publication of a comparative study of laws and practices regarding the blocking and filtering of illegal Internet content in the 47 member states.
He also proposed a new Council of Europe thematic Roma action plan.
Congress expresses full support to new strategic vision of Council of Europe Secretary General