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Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Podcast : An American View Of Europe's Integration Of Roma Communities

Gwendolyn Albert
This end of year podcast reviews one of Europe's major news stories of 2010 - the social inclusion of Roma communities.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Venice Commission To Approve UK Election Practice Overhaul

Constitutional experts from the Council of Europe are set to give their approval to an overhaul of the United Kingdom’s code of practice for election observers.

The Venice Commission will rubberstamp its positive assessment of the updated code at its meeting in Venice, Italy, on 18 December.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Committee Of Ministers Paves Way For Global 'Medicrime' Treaty

Governments across the world will be urged to sign up to a new Council of Europe treaty criminalizing the manufacture and supply of counterfeit medical products.

The organisation announced today the adoption by its Committee of Ministers of the ‘Medicrime’ Convention.

ECHR: Croatian Authorities Discriminated Against Reformist Churches

A complaint of religious discrimination by Reformist churches in Croatia has been upheld by judges at the European Court of Human Rights.

In today’s Chamber judgment in the case Savez Crkava Riječ Života and Others v. Croatia (application no. 7798/08), which is not final , the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

A violation of Article 9 (freedom of thought, conscience and religion) in conjunction with Article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights

Thorbjørn Jagland Issues Challenge To Member States

A respect for human rights should lie at the heart of decisions taken by Council of Europe member states on the right of entry, residence and expulsion of foreigners according to Thorbjørn Jagland.

The Secretary General’s view was expressed during an interview with the European Council on Refugees and Exiles.

ECRE interview

Human Rights Commissioner Wants Germany To Stop 'Forced Returns' To Kosovo

Human Rights Commissioner Thomas Hammarberg has written to Germany’s Interior Minister urging him to "avoid" further ‘forced returns’ to Kosovo.

“The infrastructure and resources available there are in fact not adequate for the sustainable integration of returnees,” the Commissioner said following the publication today of his letter to the German Federal Minister of the Interior, Thomas De Maizière.

Human Rights At The Heart Of Christmas

Lilian Thuram
As the European Convention on Human Rights celebrates its 60th anniversary, the Council of Europe and the City of Strasbourg have placed the spotlight on human rights at this year's internationally famous Christmas Market.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

New Report On Germany's Treatment Of National Minorities

A new Council of Europe report on Germany shows no decrease in the number of racist, xenophobic or anti-Semitic offences, despite efforts made by the authorities.

The Council of Europe Advisory Committee on the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities published today its Third Opinion on Germany, and the government’s comments.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Protection Of National Minorities Report On Croatia

A new report on Croatia shows ethnically-motivated incidents against Serbs and Roma "continue to be a serious problem” despite improvements in the protection offered to national minorities.

Judges Back Portuguese Newspaper After Football Dispute With Sporting

A judgement ordering the newspaper Público and four staff to pay 75,000 euros to Sporting Clube de Portugal for defamation breached the right of free expression, European judges have declared.

Judges Back Polish Buddhist In Prison Human Rights Breach

A Buddhist has won €3000 after European Court of Human Rights judges ruled that Polish prison authorities violated his human rights.

In a Chamber judgment today in the case Jakóbski v. Poland (application no. 18429/06), which is not final , the Court held, unanimously, that there had been

A violation of Article 9 (freedom of religion) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the authorities’ refusal to provide a detainee with a meat-free diet in prison, contrary to the dietary rules of his faith.

Data Protection, Citizens' Rights And The Council Of Europe

Personal data protection is emerging as a key concern for Europeans as everyday life becomes increasingly intertwined with social networks and cloud computing.

Monday, 6 December 2010

Anti-Corruption Unit Reports On Serbia

Greater efforts are needed to fight corruption and strengthen the supervision of party funding in Serbia, according to a new Council of Europe report.

In the Third Round Evaluation Report published today by the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), the countries authorities´ efforts to comply with Council of Europe standards are recognized.

However, the report’s authors call on Serbia to “address a few limited deficiencies, regarding, in particular, the legal framework applicable to the bribery of foreign jurors and arbitrators, as well as the possibilities to prosecute corruption abroad.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Happy Hanukkah From Strasbourg

Daniel Holtgen
 Communications director Daniel Holtgen was the Council of Europe’s representative at a 2 December ceremony marking Hanukkah.

In his speech, the director said Hanukkah was an opportunity to remember the “courage and resistance of the Jewish people." The  event had a “wider message for all humanity,” he added.

Conference In Ukraine: Local Government's Response To The Financial Crisis

Alina Tatarenko

A conference discussing the impact of the financial crisis on Ukraine and the response of the country's local government officials starts today (3 December) in Kyiv.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Maud de Boer-Buquicchio: End Disabled People's "Double Discrimination"

Governments must do more to prevent the “double discrimination” faced by Europe’s most vulnerable people with disabilities, said Council of Europe Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio.

She urged governments to use the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December) to make a firm commitment to those most in need.

ECHR Backs French Company In Property Row With Armed And Violent Man

A French company denied police assistance to evict the armed and violent former owner of one of its properties has been awarded more than €11,500 in costs and damages.

The decision by judges at the European Court of Human Rights was made known on 2 December.

Parliamentary Assembly: Albania's Court Defiance "Unacceptable"

A decision by Albania to defy the European Court of Human Rights on an extradition case is “unacceptable” to the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly.

Its Rapporteur David Darchiashvili has expressed deep concern at the extradition of Almir Rrapo to the United States last week (24 November) which ignored a binding interim measure from the Court.

ECHR Says Russia Responsible for Disappearance and Presumed Death A Chechen Man

In a 2 December Chamber judgment in the case Dzhabirailova and Dzhabrailova v. Russia (application no. 15563/06), which is not final , the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been human rights violations.

The case concerned the applicants’ allegation that Isa Aytamirov was abducted and killed by Russian servicemen during an unacknowledged security operation in February 2003 in Grozny.

Greece Ordered To Pay 4.2 million Euros For Property Rights Infringements

In 2 December Chamber judgments in the cases of Anonymos Touristiki Etairia Xenodocheia Kritis v. Greece (application no. 35332/05) and Theodoraki and Others v. Greece (no. 9368/06), which are not final, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously awarded a total of 4,220,000 euros (EUR) for pecuniary damage, plus sums for costs and expenses.

Bulgarians Win Court Backing After Brewery Nationalisation

Three Bulgarian men have won the support of the European Court of Human Rights in their claims to shares from a Plovdiv brewery nationalised in 1947.

The case (Putter v. Bulgaria - no. 38780/02) was brought by Paul, Victor and Johannes Putter, are successors to shareholders of the brewery.

Thomas Hammarberg: Time To Overcome Ethnic Divisions In Bosnia And Herzegovina

At the end of his three-day visit to Bosnia Herzegovina, Thomas Hammarberg has called for an end to the discrimination of national minorities in the country.

The Council of Europe’s Human rights Commissioner said: “Authorities in Bosnia and Herzegovina should end discrimination towards members of national minorities by bringing law and practice fully into line with human rights standards including the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights.

“The right to equality should be ensured for members of all ethnic groups.”

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Thorbjørn Jagland Calls For Death Penalty Global Moratorium

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has called for a global moratorium on capital punishment.

His declaration followed this morning's death by hanging of Shahla Jahed in Tehran.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Court Rules On Austrian Refusal To Allow Gay Marriage

A five-judge panel of the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights has rejected the referral request relating to the case of Schalk and Kopf v. Austria (application no. 30141/04) submitted by the applicants.

The Court’s Chamber judgment of 24 June 2010 has thereby become final (Article 44 of the European Convention on Human Rights).

Review Of Conduct of Moldovan Parliamentary Elections

Parliamentary elections in Moldova on 28 November met most Council of Europe and OSCE commitments, international observers have concluded.

Rome launch for new Council of Europe anti-child sexual abuse campaign

A new Council of Europe campaign aimed at fighting the sexual abuse of children has been welcomed by leading Italian experts ahead of its launch in Rome today.

“We need a large prevention strategy,” said Roberta Angellilli, EU Vice president and spokesman for the Rome municipal authority on children’s issues, in an interview with the Council of Europe. “Institutions must speak out and be on the citizen’s side, especially if the citizen is vulnerable.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Italy And Faroe Islands Scoop Song Contest Awards

R.esistance in dub, from Frioul, Italy and Orka, from the Faroe Islands, have won the Public and Jury prizes at the Liet International minority languages music festival in Brittany, France.

The festival - know as the European Minority song contest -  promotes contemporary songs in languages such as  Asturian, Breton, Corsican, Faroese, Frisian, Friulian, Gaelic, Galician, Irish, Sami, and Veps.

It is sponsored by the Council of Europe Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, the only world-wide agreement designed to protect minority languages.

More Information 

Friday, 26 November 2010

New Venice Commission Visit To Ukraine

Constitutional experts from the Council of Europe will visit Ukraine next week for more talks with the country’s authorities.

The Venice Commission’s team will examine the consequences of a decision by the Constitutional Court of Ukraine which declared unconstitutional the Law on Amendments to the Constitution of Ukraine adopted on 8 December 2004 .

Complaint Against France On Roma Returns

A complaint has been received by the Council of Europe alleging discrimination by France in its decision last summer to remove Roma people from the country.

The Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) lodged the complaint under the terms of the Revised European Social Charter.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Aleksei Lotman: Human Rights Part Of Discussions On Europe’s Energy Future

“The right to a healthy environment is a human right,” said Aleksei Lotman earlier today, at the start of a Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly conference on nuclear energy.

At the start of two days of discussions, the Environment Committee chairman underlined the need to strike a balance between human rights and Europe’s future energy needs.

Extra-Judicial Killings In Chechnya

In its judgment delivered today in the case Amuyeva and Others v. Russia (application no. 17321/06), which is not final , the European Court of Human Rights held, unanimously, that there had been:

Four violations of Article 2 (right to life: killings) of the European Convention on Human Rights

Four violations of Article 2 (right to life: lack of effective investigation)

A violation of Article 13 (right to an effective remedy) in respect of the violations of Article 2

The case concerned the extra-judicial execution of the applicants’ four relatives by the military.

Violence Against Women: "A Civil War Is Going On In Our Backyards"

Every month, women are victims of violence on a scale greater than the 9/11 attacks in New York, claims the chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly’s Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.

Lord Prescott To Chair Conference On Nuclear Energy And Climate Change

Lord Prescott, the United Kingdom's former deputy Prime Minister,will chair a discussion on the nulcear impact on climate change in Strasbourg later today

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Conference On Medical Treatment In End Of Life Situations

A conference on the decision making process regarding medical treatment in end of life situations takes place in Strasbourg from 29 November to 1 December.

Health professionals, lawyers, philosophers and sociologists, patients’ associations and national ethic committees’ representatives are expected to attend.

Ahmet Davutoğlu: Thousands of Women Suffer Violence Everyday In Europe

"Everywhere and every day in Europe, thousands of women suffer physical or sexual violence just for being a woman. This is unacceptable and that everything must be done to stop it."

The 24 November statement by Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey and Chairman of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, marked International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

ECHR To Hear Jehovah’s Witness Complaint Against Armenia

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights will today hear arguments in a freedom of religion and conscience complaint brought by a Jehovah’s Witness against Armenia.

Bayatyan v. Armenia (Application no. 23459/03)

Vahan Bayatyan is an Armenian national, born in 1983. He is a Jehovah’s Witness. The case concerns his criminal conviction for refusal to perform military service for conscientious reasons.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Prisoner Wins €17,000 Damages After Turkey Human Rights Breach

On 23 November, the European Court of Human Rights gave written notice of its judgement in the case of Akalın v. Turkey (no. 23480/06)

The applicant, Nuri Akalın, is a Turkish national who was born in 1977 and is currently detained in Kandıra Prison (Turkey). Arrested in 1997 on suspicion of being a member of an illegal organisation, he was convicted in 2002 by a state security court of attempting to undermine the constitutional order under the criminal code in force at the time.

Europe should accept more refugees in need of safe resettlement

European countries are closing their borders to migrants, arguing that they have room only for “genuine” refugees, who cannot return to their home countries without risking their lives or freedom, says the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, in his latest Human Rights Comment published today

Monday, 22 November 2010

Turkey Hosts Media Conference

A conference to discuss the media’s contribution to intercultural dialogue and the fight against discrimination takes place in Istanbul from 29 November to 2 December.

The event follows similar exchanges held in Seville and Bari.

More information

Czech Republic: “Equal education for Roma children should be guaranteed,”says Commissioner Hammarberg

“There has been virtually no change on the ground in the Czech Republic since the European Court of Human Rights found three years ago that the country had discriminated against Roma children by educating them in schools for children with mental disabilities.”

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg reached this conclusion after a three-day visit to the Czech Republic. He stated that the implementation of this landmark judgment (D.H. and Others v the Czech Republic) “is, worryingly, delayed and it is not clear that this will change in the near future.”

Prison Policy In Europe

“The mood and temper of the public with regard to the treatment of crime and criminals is one of the unfailing tests of the civilisation of a country.”

Winston Churchill’s realisation has greatly informed the Council of Europe’s work in the development of penal policy and its efforts to strike the right balance between sanction, treatment, reintegration and the protection of victims and society.

Friday, 19 November 2010

United Kingdom Signals Its Priorities For CoE Leadership

Court reform, efficiency savings and cost reductions will be at the heart of the United Kingdom’s chairmanship of the Council of Europe, a British peer has revealed.

On 18 November, during a House Of Lords debate on the Council of Europe, Lord Howell of Guildford, speaking on behalf of the government, said: “We are looking to push down the costs of the Council of Europe, to make efficiency savings where possible and to ensure that work undertaken by the organisation is essential and relevant.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Thorbjørn Jagland Welcomes Release Of Azerbaijan Blogger

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland hopes the decision by an Azerbaijan court to release a blogger will help to remove concerns about the country’s commitment to free expression.

He said: "I am relieved that Adnan Hajizadeh, one of the bloggers and youth activists arrested in July 2009, was today granted early release by the Baku Appeal Court.

18 November: View From The Court

TramStrasbourg lineE DroitsHomme panneau2Image via Wikipedia
On 18 November, the European Court of Human Rights made known its decision in the following complaints. 
Baudoin v. France (no. 35935/03)*

The applicant, Claude Baudoin, is a French national who was born in 1945 and is currently confined in the difficult patients’ unit at Plouguernével Specialist Hospital (France). In 1975 he was sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment for murder and attempted murder. In 1983 he was compulsorily admitted to hospital on account of his psychiatric problems and violent conduct; since then, he has been in hospital on an almost uninterrupted basis. He submitted that his continued involuntary confinement had been in breach of Article 5 §§ 1 (e) and 4 (right to liberty and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Violation of Article 5 § 1 (e)

Two violations of Article 5 § 4

Just satisfaction: EUR 20,000 (non-pecuniary damage) and EUR 3,000 (costs and expenses)

Anti-Corruption Committee Finds "Major Shortcomings" In Azerbaijan’s Legislation

Major shortcomings in Azerbaijan’s legislation on corruption and transparency in party funding have been uncovered by a new Council of Europe report.

The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (GRECO) Third Round Evaluation Report on Azerbaijan, published on 18 November, found that the country’s legal framework contains several important deficiencies in relation to the requirements established under the Council of Europe’s Criminal Law Convention on Corruption.

Lord Tomlinson: Fighting Terrorism Could Undermine Human Rights

Governments fighting terrorism may be tempted into “a strong-armed approach that gives public security precedence over the respect for human rights,” Lord John Tomlinson has warned.

Assembly Committee Demands Swifter ECHR Commitment From Nine European Nations

Nine Council of Europe member states have been urged to respond more quickly to European Court of Human Rights judgments to prevent repeat violations.

The Parliamentary Assembly’s Legal Affairs Committee has identified Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Moldova, Poland, Romania, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine as countries with “major structural problems.”

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

New Guidelines For Child Friendly Justice

New guidelines on child-friendly justice, providing governments with guidance on improving children’s access to justice – civil, administrative or criminal - have been adopted today by the Council of Europe.

“The justice system cannot be blind to the fact that children have specific needs and rights,” said the organisation’s Deputy Secretary General Maud de Boer-Buquicchio.

Podcast:Safeguarding Europe's Language Diversity

In this podcast interview, Alexey Kozhemyakov outlines the work of the Council of Europe to support and promote minority langauges.

He also highlights the threat to Europe's cultural heritage if the organisation's 47 member states fail to ensure language diversity.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Thorbjørn Jagland Warns Europe Against ECHR Defiance On Iraqi Returns

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has warned Council of Europe member states preparing to return Iraqi citizens to Iraq not to violate a European Court of Human Rights decision.