Strasbourg, 13 December 2013 - In a statement today, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, welcomed the decision by a Ukrainian court to grant amnesty to nine people arrested during violent clashes in Kiev two weeks ago.
“This is a good sign. I raised the case of the nine detainees with the Prime Minister and Justice Minister of Ukraine during my visit to Kiev last week. Their release could be a first step towards resolving the crisis in Ukraine. The next step should be to implement my proposal, and ensure an objective and thorough investigation, under the supervision of an advisory panel. As I discussed with the opposition and the government, we are ready to nominate a respected international human rights expert to chair this panel”, he said.
Strasbourg, 12/12/2013 – “Serbia needs to strengthen its asylum system and reception capacities in order to cope with the ever increasing number of arrivals, in particular from war-torn Syria. I could witness signs of the current strains on the Serbian asylum system during my November visit in the reception centre of Bogovadja, one of the two asylum centres in the country. Additional efforts are needed in order to ensure that the human rights of every person in need of international protection are fully respected and protected” said today Nils Muižnieks, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, releasing a letter addressed to Prime Minister Dačić.
During his visit in Bogovadja, the Commissioner witnessed that all 160 places were full and, as a consequence, about 230 asylum seekers were living in the nearby forest, in basic shelters such as wooden shacks or tents, with no access to sanitation services. He stresses in his letter that this situation is very serious and requires urgent action by the Serbian authorities. “A first step is to ensure that every asylum seekers in Serbia is accommodated in a place which meets international standards.”
The Commissioner notes that Serbian law establishes that registration of asylum seekers should be done in one of the existing two asylum centres. However, a number of persons do not get registered, notably due to these centres’ inadequate reception capacity. The Commissioner also observes with particular concern that even registered asylum seekers who submit their application have almost no prospect of being granted refugee status or subsidiary protection. “With only three persons recognised as refugees since 2008, the recognition rate is close to zero in Serbia.” (more...)
Strasbourg, 11/12/2013 – “The situation of Roma and refugees in Italy is a long-standing concern. Local authorities, including in Rome, have an important role to play in improving the living conditions of these people,” said today Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, while releasing a letter addressed to the Mayor of Rome, Mr Ignazio Marino.
The letter draws the Mayor’s attention to two concerns raised in the Commissioner’s report on Italy published in September 2012, namely the segregation of Roma and Sinti on the one hand, and the living conditions and integration of beneficiaries of international or humanitarian protection on the other.
“I have been following with attention the housing situation of Roma and Sinti in Italy, including Rome, in order to monitor progress towards the discontinuation of policies of forced evictions and segregated camps for Roma and Sinti. Difficulties in accessing social housing for Roma living in formal camps were reported to me. I call on Rome’s authorities to ensure the possibility for Roma and Sinti living in these camps to have access to social housing on an equal footing with the rest of the population.”
Noting with concern the forced eviction in September 2013 of Roma families from the informal camp of Salviati and their relocation to the formal camp of Castel Romano against their will, the Commissioner expresses his concerns about the reported lack of genuine consultation with the inhabitants, despite their appeal for dialogue with the municipality. “International standards on the right to adequate housing, which establish that evictions should only take place as a last resort and following appropriate procedural safeguards, including genuine consultation, might have not been properly upheld. It is time that forced evictions and segregated camps be relegated to the past and ordinary housing solutions be found for Roma and Sinti.”
Furthermore, the Commissioner remains deeply concerned about the situation of refugees and beneficiaries of international or humanitarian protection, many of whom face abject destitution. (more...)
Strasbourg, 06.12.2013 – The Committee of Ministers has made public today decisions and resolutions adopted at its last special human rights meeting for 2013 (3–5 December) during which it has examined the state of implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. The texts adopted and working documents are available on the Committee of Ministers’ website.
Texts adopted at concern Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Greece, the Republic of Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, Ukraine and the United Kingdom. The list of cases concerned is presented on the website of the Department for the Execution of Judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
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 website of the Department for the execution of the judgments of the ECHR, and in the Committee of Ministers’ Annual Reports on its supervision of execution.
Strasbourg, 6 December 2013 - Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland pays tribute to Nelson Mandela:
"Nelson Mandela was the world's greatest human rights defender of our time.
His life showed that human rights can prevail and a single person can change the destiny of a nation".
Strasbourg, 13 December 2013 - The Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) is organising a conference in Prague on 13 December to examine – for the first time on a pan-European scale – gender-specific manifestations of corruption in Council of Europe member states.
The event also aims to support the inclusion of a gender perspective into national anti-corruption policies, take stock of national experiences in identifying, preventing and reducing gender-specific manifestations of corruption, and exchanging information on available research and good practice.
The two main themes that have emerged so far from research are the differentiated impact of corruption on women and men – women usually being more exposed to various forms of abuse and discrimination, and the relationship between levels of corruption and increasing women´s participation and representation.
The conference “Gender dimensions of corruption”, which is organised under the auspices of the President of the Senate and the Ministry of Justice of the Czech Republic, will bring together representatives from GRECO member States, as well as representatives of international organisations and civil society.
Marie Benešová, Minister of Justice and Chair of the Government Legislative Council of the Czech Republic, and Marin Mrčela, President of GRECO, will participate in the opening together with other speakers.
Since 2012, GRECO has been looking into gender dimensions of corruption and reflecting on whether and how a gender perspective could add value to its work.
Strasbourg, 12.12.2013 – The Council of Europe’s Committee of experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism (MONEYVAL) today published a report presented by the Holy See (including the Vatican City State) concerning the progress it has made to remedy the deficiencies identified by MONEYVAL in its first mutual evaluation report in 2012.
The report was published together with a detailed assessment of this progress by MONEYVAL with regard to the 16 core and key Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) Recommendations 2003. Both documents were adopted this week at MONEYVAL´S 43rd plenary meeting, and take into account developments up to 30 November 2013.
MONEYVAL concludes that a very wide range of legislative and other measures have been taken in a short time by the Holy See to remedy deficiencies identified by the 2012 MONEYVAL report in all areas of the AML/CFT framework, though certain issues still need to be addressed. (more...)
The Holy See and the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 06.12.2013 – The Council of Europe, in co-operation with the Spanish Government, is organising a conference in Madrid on 10 and 11 December to discuss ways to improve the prevention of sexual abuse and exploitation of children.
The conference “Preventing sexual abuse of children” aims to enable the 47 Council of Europe member states to address the prevention of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse of children by taking the provisions of theLanzarote Convention as a starting point.
The conference will bring together some 180 participants from fifty countries, including representatives from the 29 states that have so far ratified the convention, as well as experts in the fields of justice, education, child welfare, social and family policies and health.
The participants will share good practice in fields such as helping parents and educators to protect children, criteria for helping employers to make recruitment decisions, programmes for young sexual offenders and potential offenders, preventing sexual abuse of disabled children, and sexual exploitation in travel and tourism.
At the venue a “Good Practice circuit” will allow participants to learn about projects that have successfully addressed specific issues related to the prevention of sexual abuse of children.
The Minister of Justice of Spain, Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón, and the Council of Europe Director of Justice and Human Dignity, Marja Ruotanen, will open the conference on Tuesday 10 December at 10.00 am.
Strasbourg/Kyiv, 06.12.2013 - The three main opposition parties in Ukraine and Prime Minister Azarov have accepted Secretary General Jagland's plan to establish an expert advisory panel to oversee the investigation into the violent incidents in Kyiv on 30 November and 1 December.
"The investigation and its results must be accepted by all concerned. Therefore, the expert advisory panel to oversee the investigation will consist of one member nominated by the opposition, one member nominated by the government, and one member from the international community.
Transparency and acceptance of this investigation will be the first step to rebuilding trust in Ukraine", Jagland said.
After talks with opposition parties and Prime Minister Azarov on Wednesday, Mr Jagland's plan was endorsed by opposition leaders Klitschko, Yatsenyuk and Tyahnybok on Thursday. Prime Minister Azarov agreed to the expert panel in a telephone conversation with Secretary General Jagland later the same day. Mr Jagland also met with Foreign Minister Kozhara and Justice Minister Lukash.
Kiev, 5 December 2013 - Following his visit to Ukraine, Secretary General Jagland published the following statement:
"The aim of our discussions with government and opposition representatives has been to find avenues for dialogue in view of a political solution to the current crisis in Ukraine.
The people of Ukraine must be able to have confidence in their political system and in the judiciary.
A precondition for any political solution is a thorough and transparent investigation into the violent incidents of last Saturday and Sunday.
These events will leave an open wound in Ukrainian society if the truth is not revealed.
The investigation and its results must be accepted by all concerned.
This is why I have proposed to create an expert advisory panel to oversee the investigation, consisting of one member nominated by the opposition, one member nominated by the government, and one member from the international community.
The Council of Europe is available to nominate a respected and experienced expert in human rights.
Transparency and acceptance of this investigation will be the first step to rebuilding trust in Ukraine", he said.