Strasbourg, 7 March 2014 - On the occasion of the International Women's Day, the Deputy Secretary General, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, published the following statement:
“Women are suffering more than men from austerity policies: Gender Equality is at stake and it should be strengthened during these turbulent times. The right to fair remuneration, recognising the concept of equal pay for work of equal value, enshrined in article 4 of the European Social Charter (Revised), should be implemented and not just considered a principle. The gender dimension is key to fostering equal opportunities, fighting stereotypes and avoiding discrimination that might also lead to violence against women”.
10-11 March – Deputy Secretary General at the UN Commission on the Status of Women
Deputy Secretary General Gabriella Battaini Dragoni will attend the 58th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN Headquarters in New York. She will be the keynote speaker at the Side Event “Trafficking in human beings – a severe form of violence against women and girls and a flagrant violation of human rights: The Council of Europe response”, co-organised with the Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations “. Deputy Secretary General will also moderate the Side Event: “The Convention of Belém do Pará and the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (known as Istanbul Convention): A response to violence against women worldwide”, co-organised with the Permanent Missions of France and Argentina to the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
Paris, 7 March 2014 - The Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting today in Paris, expressed its full support for the territorial integrity and national unity of Ukraine. It therefore strongly condemned the violation by the Russian Federation of the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The actions of Russian military forces in the Crimean peninsula, as well as explicit threats of military actions in the rest of Ukraine’s territory, are in direct violation of international law, including the UN Charter, the OSCE Helsinki Final Act, the Statute of the Council of Europe, as well as Russia’s accession commitments.
The Standing Committee is especially concerned that the Council of Federation authorised the Russian President to use military force in the Crimea and it regrets the statements by both houses of the Russian parliament that supported calls for separatism and secessionism in an already tense region.
The Assembly expresses its full support for the legitimate new authorities in Kyiv and commends them for their restraint. It urges the authorities to refrain from any actions and rhetoric that could divide the Ukrainian society and undermine national unity. (more...)
Strasbourg, 6 March 2014 – A current affairs debate on the political crisis in Ukraine has been proposed by the Group of the Unified European Left (UEL) of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to be held at the forthcoming meeting of PACE’s Standing Committee(*) scheduled in Paris on 7 March.
Debates on increasing the reporting of suspected sexual abuse of children; on the fight against AIDS among migrants and refugees; on Europe’s endangered heritage; and on the need to reinforce the training of legal professionals on the European Convention on Human Rights, will also feature on the agenda.
After the opening of the meeting by PACE President Anne Brasseur, and a statement by Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe, the parliamentarians will hold an exchange of views with Ranko Krivokapić, President of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly.
(*) The Standing Committee, which acts on the Assembly’s behalf between plenary sessions, is made up of the President and Vice-Presidents of the Assembly, the chairpersons of political groups, the chairpersons of national delegations and the committee chairpersons, totalling some 60 parliamentarians from the Council of Europe's 47 member States.
Strasbourg, 1 March 2014 - Responding to the news that the Russian Senate has approved the deployment of troops in Crimea, Council of Europe Secretary General Jagland warned against escalation in the region: "This is a very worrying development. I call on all parties to de-escalate the situation. Tensions in the area are already very high. Ukraine's territorial integrity must be respected and international commitments upheld", he said.
The Committee of Ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting in Strasbourg on the situation in Ukraine, Monday 3 March at 3 p.m. Council of Europe Secretary General Jagland will attend.
Strasbourg, 26.02.2014 – Students from City University London (United Kingdom) were declared winners of the second edition of the European Moot Court Competition in English on the European Convention of Human Rights, after beating a team from the Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece) in the final round. The best orator prize was awarded to Emmanouil Giakoumakis from Greece and the best written submissions prize to the team from the University of Helsinki (Finland).
The final round took place at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on 26 February and its jury, made up of prominent figures, including judges of the Court and academics, was chaired by Johannes Silvis, judge at the European Court of Human Rights.
The competition simulates the procedure of complaints to the European Court of Human Rights. Sixteen university teams from ten countries (Austria, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Romania, Serbia, Sweden and United Kingdom) pleaded a fictive case concerning freedom of expression in relation to defamation and hate speech.
The Moot Court Competition aims at giving law students, who are future lawyers or judges, practical experience on the European Convention on Human Rights and its implementation. The winning team is awarded a traineeship at the Court. (more...)
- Special file
- Photo gallery
- Speech by Deputy Secretary General, Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni
Reacting to the announcement of a referendum in the Crimea on 16 March on whether it should join the Russian Federation, the President of the Council of Europe's Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Mr. Herwig Van Staa, declared: “I cannot but deplore this initiative. To hold a referendum, at such short notice, using closed questions, without consultation with the national authorities and in the unauthorized presence of military forces, in flagrant violation of international law, is a travesty of the democratic process and one that I condemn. It would be a serious step backwards for the democratic development of this region."
Strasbourg, 6 March 2014 – “In May 2013, a campaign led notably by Women, Action and the Media and the Everyday Sexism Project attracted global public attention to the issue of social media content promoting violence against women. Such content included the photograph of a well-known singer with a bloodied and beaten face with a caption celebrating her boyfriend’s assault. The campaign prompted Facebook to react and update its policies on hate speech, which now take better account of an often neglected type of hate speech, that targeting women”, says Nils Muižnieks, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, in his latest Human Rights Comment published today.
Such hate speech is proliferating, notably on the Internet, with daily calls for violence against women and threats of murder, sexual assault or rape.
Arguably, the most famous case is that of Malala Yousafzai, the young Pakistani girl who, after surviving an assassination attempt prompted by her stance for women’s rights, had to withstand a hostile campaign on the Internet. Malala is now a symbol of women’s struggle worldwide, including in Europe. Recent cases, in fact, remind us that if we believe that hate speech against women is not a European problem, we are profoundly wrong. (more...)
Strasbourg, 4 March 2014 – “The dramatic events that have been unfolding in Ukraine since November 2013 brought to the fore a number of long-standing, core human rights challenges that the Government has to address, in particular as regards the excessive use of force by the police, the independence and impartiality of the judicial system and the lack of a legislative framework governing peaceful assembly”, said Nils Muižnieks, Commissioner for Human Rights, releasing a report on his visit to Ukraine carried out from 4 to 10 February 2014.
The Commissioner acknowledges that the ongoing crisis may overshadow the urgency of addressing the shortcomings highlighted in his report. He stresses that, for the human rights situation to improve, it is necessary to defuse current tensions in the country. To this effect, it is crucial that its territorial integrity and sovereignty be effectively respected.
By providing an independent analysis of the primary human rights issues observed until February 28, the report intends to provide a road-map to assist the Ukrainian authorities in addressing core human rights issues as soon as a peaceful climate has regained ground in the country.
“By the time of my visit, at least 5 deaths were linked to the violent events, and there had been some reports of abductions – including from hospitals - which are of grave concern. An even more serious escalation of violence began on 18 February 2014 resulting in over 80 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The authorities must shed full light on these events and bring those responsible to justice. This is necessary not only to meet Ukraine’s international obligations, but also to respect the suffering and dignity of all victims and their families.” (more...)
Strasbourg, 28 February 2014 - Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland agreed with the President of the Verkhovna Rada (Ukraine's Parliament), Mr Oleksandr Turchinov, to send a special adviser to Kiev. The Secretary General's special adviser, Mr Jeroen Schokkenbroek, will provide Ukrainian authorities with expert assistance towards new legislation, constitutional and electoral reform, based on Ukraine's commitments under the European Convention on Human Rights and Council of Europe standards. Mr Schokkenbroek will travel to Kiev on Monday. Mr Jagland's initiative to send a special adviser to Kiev was supported by all 47 Council of Europe member states.
Ukraine and the Council of Europe
Strasbourg, 27 February 2014 - An extraordinary meeting of the Council of Europe’s Ministers’ Deputies was held on Wednesday to take stock of the political situation in Ukraine and consider the assistance which the Organisation could bring in this context. Expressing its solidarity with Ukraine and its people, the Committee underlined the importance of maintaining efforts towards finding a political solution in the country and the commitment of its 47 governments to the peaceful settlement of disputes and the full respect of the territorial integrity, unity and independence of Ukraine.
The Ministers’ Deputies underlined that the reforms undertaken in Ukraine should be conducted in an all-inclusive manner, fully respect the principle of the rule of law and comply with the country’s commitments to the Council of Europe, the European Convention on Human Rights and the other Council of Europe conventions to which Ukraine is party, in particular the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. The Committee also invited Ukraine to draw on the Council of Europe’s expertise when preparing the important reforms to come, starting with the revision of the Constitution and of the electoral legislation and called on all sides concerned to ensure that the International Advisory Panel as proposed by the Secretary General be enabled to begin its work on the basis of a mandate reflecting the current situation.
During the meeting, a message was also delivered on behalf of the Austrian Foreign Minister and Chairman of the Committee of Ministers Sebastian Kurz. “We want to encourage our friends in Ukraine to use the wealth of experience of this organisation, particularly in order to ensure continued protection of its minorities, as well as territorial integrity, in line with its obligations to the Council of Europe."
PACE Monitoring Committee supports the national unity of Ukraine
Anti-torture Committee returns to Ukraine
Ukraine and the Council of Europe