Strasbourg, 29.09.2014 – The second Václav Havel Human Rights Prize – which honours outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights – has been awarded to Azerbaijani human rights defender Anar Mammadli.
As Mr Mammadli is currently in prison, the €60 000 prize was presented to his father, Asaf Mammadov, at a special ceremony today at the Palais de l’Europe in Strasbourg, on the opening day of the autumn plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE).
Presenting the trophy, PACE President Anne Brasseur, chair of the selection panel, said: “Mr Mammadli’s commitment lies in the area of promoting democratic institutions and civil and political rights. Annar Mammadli is our long-standing partner who shared with our Assembly, but also with other bodies of the Council of Europe, including its Commissioner for human rights, his valuable expertise on the situation in his country.”
Mr Mammadli is the founder and chairperson of an influential and experienced organisation in Azerbaijan dedicated to observing elections. Since 2001, his Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS) has been carrying out independent election monitoring in Azerbaijan. (more...)
Strasbourg, 25.09.2014 - The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, has welcomed initiatives of Muslim associations across Europe protesting against the Islamic State and violent extremism.
“The Council of Europe and its member states stand united in their condemnation of the recent barbaric executions of innocent people, most recently French citizen Hervé Gourdel, by the Islamic State and related extremist groups.
I therefore welcome the initiatives and protests of thousands of Muslim men and women across Europe who raise their voices against IS and its acts of terror.
Muslims in Europe are using their right to freedom of expression to defend our common values and to protest against intolerance, hate and violence. They deserve our full support”, he said in a statement on Thursday.
The Council of Europe promotes relations between different religious groups through its work on intercultural dialogue.
Strasbourg, 25 September 2014 - Speaking at the end of a three-day visit to Azerbaijan, Anne Brasseur, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), has called for a broad dialogue between the authorities, political actors and civil society. “Dialogue requires that all sides must be prepared to listen to each other, treat each other with respect and try to understand each other, even though they might not come to an agreement. By making small steps, progress can be achieved. Our Assembly is ready to support this process,” she said.
During the visit, the PACE President discussed with the authorities at the highest political level the advance of reforms relating to Azerbaijan’s commitments and obligations. “Respecting Council of Europe standards is a political and legal obligation of all member States. On this front, more progress is needed in Azerbaijan on, in particular, freedom of expression and freedom of association, as well as the independence of the judiciary. The 2014-2016 Action Plan contains the necessary tools to support these reforms and I hope that concrete initiatives will be launched soon,” said Ms Brasseur.
During the visit PACE President held an extensive discussion with NGO representatives, praising their commitment and determination, given the difficult conditions in which they have to operate, especially as regards registration, use of foreign grants, and reporting procedures. “In my meeting with the Minister of Justice I stressed the need to implement the recommendations of the Venice Commission concerning NGO legislation. We stand ready to provide further support, as required,” said the PACE President.
Speaking about the recent arrests of civil society activists, the President stressed that this was a source of grave concern. (more...)
Strasbourg, 08.09.2014 – The European Ministers responsible for Sport met in Macolin (Switzerland) on Thursday 18 September at a conference held by the Council of Europe in partnership with the Swiss Federal Office of Sport. While focusing on the risk of corruption in sports governance and on pan-European sports co-operation, the conference also marked the kick-off for the Council of Europe’s new Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions.
The ministers present discussed measures to prevent and combat corruption in sports governance, looking at ways of ensuring a degree of autonomy and also sports ethics, as well as the machinery to be established to promote and supervise good governance in sport and the gaps in anticorruption measures at both national and international level.
In addition, they considered how to boost resources and co-operation for combating doping.
Convention on the Manipulation of Sports Competitions in brief
The aims of the convention are to prevent, detect and punish the manipulation of sports competitions under both criminal law and disciplinary provisions and to increase information exchange and national and international co-operation both between the public authorities concerned and with sports organisations and sports betting operators. (more...)
Opening statement by Ueli Maurer
Opening statement by Azad Rahimov
Statement by Thorbjørn Jagland
Statement by Anne Brasseur
Statement by Matthias Remund
Match-fixing: fifteen countries pave the way for implementation of the new Council of Europe Convention
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
"Human rights must be above political agendas and national specificities," President Anne Brasseur said in her opening speech of the PACE autumn session in Strasbourg.
"Our post- Second World War European human rights architecture is very precious as it seeks to create a human rights culture and with it a respectful dialogue, inclusive co-operation and mutual confidence as the best remedy we have found against hatred, oppression and fear", she said.
"The crisis in Ukraine is a flagrant example of the threat to human rights in times of violence and conflict. It is also a reminder of the role the Council of Europe and our Assembly have to play in establishing long-lasting democratic peace through respectful dialogue and co-operation – the mission that the founding fathers of our organisation had foreseen and a mission that is still relevant in today’s Europe," she stressed.
"But there are other threats in Europe today that are far less obvious at first sight, albeit devastating in their effects. They undermine the very foundations of our democratic societies. Growing manifestations of neo-Nazism and the rise of neo-Nazi parties and movements in Europe, some of which have entered parliament at national or EU level, are more than worrying in this regard. As the draft resolution on the “Counteraction to manifestations of neo-Nazism” that we will discuss tomorrow rightly points out, the rise of extremisms and xenophobia is not an isolated phenomenon, but a problem of pan-European dimension", Anne Brasseur concluded.
Strasbourg, 19.09.2014 - Terrorist groups and organised crime often carry out similar types of crimes and share many organisational and operational features. Both groups recruit their new members in prisons and socially deprived areas offering them status and a feeling of belonging.
On 25 and 26 September the Council of Europe, the City of Málaga and the University of Málaga are organising an international conference to examine the increasing similarities between the methods used by terrorist groups and those used in other forms of organised crime, review the best practices to prevent and fight these threats, and explore the potential for adopting a comprehensive approach in policy-making in these areas.
The conference will bring together law enforcement authorities (judges, prosecutors and police forces), experts and policy-makers responsible for combating terrorism and serious organised crime from the 47 member states of the Council of Europe, as well as representatives from other countries and international organisations, such as EUROPOL, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the United Nations, and the European Union´s Judicial Cooperation Unit (Eurojust). (more...)
Strasbourg, 25.09.2014 – The Committee of Ministers’ has made public today the decisions and resolutions adopted at its third special “human rights” meeting (23-25 September 2014) during which it has examined the state of implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The list of examined cases is presented on the website of the Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
The texts adopted* concern Albania, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Croatia, Georgia, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, the Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
More information on the execution process and on the state of execution in all cases pending for supervision as well as important reference texts (including the new working methods) can be found on the special website of the Department for the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, and in the Committee of Ministers’ Annual Reports on its execution supervision.
Strasbourg, 24 September 2014 - Anne Brasseur, President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), on a working visit to Azerbaijan from 22 to 24 September 2014, today met the President of the Republic. Their exchange of views focused on the current situation and co-operation perspectives between Azerbaijan and PACE. She also met the Speaker of the Milli Mejlis and the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and Justice.
She also held meetings with leaders of political parties in the parliament, members of the Azerbaijani delegation to PACE and the Prosecutor General.
The PACE President is also due to meet a number of human rights activists and journalists currently in detention. (more...)
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