Council of Europe: Outcome of the Parliamentary Assembly session on 10-13 October 2017

October 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

59e0b9e699e44

PACE, 10-13 October 2017, Strasbourg

Amongst others, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) concluded as follows at its session:

New threats to the rule of law in Council of Europe member States: selected examples: Resolution 2188 (2017) of the Parliamentary Assembly

“The Assembly has thoroughly examined the situation in five member States: Bulgaria, the Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania and Turkey. Although the list of problems found in those States does not include all of those to be found in Council of Europe member States, the Assembly is concerned about some recent developments which put at risk respect for the rule of law, and, in particular, the independence of the judiciary and the principle of the separation of powers. This is mainly due to tendencies to limit the independence of the judiciary made though attempts to politicise the judicial councils and the courts (mainly in Bulgaria, Poland and Turkey), massive revocation of judges and prosecutors (Turkey) or attempts to do so (Poland) and tendencies to limit the legislative power of the parliament (the Republic of Moldova, Romania and Turkey). Moreover, corruption, which is a major challenge to the rule of law, remains a widespread phenomenon in Bulgaria, the Republic of Moldova and Romania.” (To read the entire Resolution, click here.)

Venice Commission’s “Rule of Law Checklist”

The Assembly decides to:

6.1. endorse the Venice Commission’s Rule of Law Checklist;
6.2. use it systematically in its work, particularly in the preparation of reports of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights and the Committee on the Honouring of Obligations and Commitments by Member States of the Council of Europe (Monitoring Committee), in order to accurately identify any structural and systemic problems in the Council of Europe’s member States;
6.3. invite the national parliaments and government bodies, including the relevant ministries, when assessing the need for and the content of legislative reform, to refer systematically to the Rule of Law Checklist;
6.4. invite international and regional organisations, including the Council of Europe as a whole and the European Union, to refer regularly to the Rule of Law Checklist in their relevant work. In this connection, the Assembly congratulates the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on having taken the Rule of Law Checklist into account in his 2017 annual report on the situation of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Europe, and urges him to do so systematically in all his future annual reports;
6.5. encourage civil society to use the Rule of Law Checklist to objectively assess respect for the rule of law.
(To read the entire document, click here.)
Please click here for more information on the results of the PACE session.

Council of Europe: PACE session, 10-13 October 2017, Strasbourg

September 29th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) session will discuss, inter alia:

Wednesday 11 October

The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan

The draft resolution includes (amongst others) a call to “ensure also that no pressure is exerted on lawyers defending NGO representatives, political activists, human rights defenders and journalists”; read more about the situation of lawyers in the explanatory memorandum attached to the resolution;

Venice Commission’s “Rule of Law Checklist”

The Assembly is expected to endorse the Venice Commission’s Rule of Law Checklist;

New threats to the rule of law in Council of Europe member States: selected examples

The committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights proposes specific recommendations addressed to these five countries [Bulgaria, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Turkey] and expresses particular concern regarding the situation in Turkey following the measures taken under the state of emergency and the recent amendments to the Constitution.

The explanatory memorandum specifically refers (amongst others) to lawyers/Moldova: “The Moldovan judiciary is affected by negative public perception and “perceived political interference in the judiciary and law enforcement is a systemic impediment to social and economic development”. Some judges have been prosecuted for their decisions (for example, judge Domnica Manole, who annulled the decision of the Central Election Commission rejecting the holding of a referendum on amending the Constitution requested by a political party) and the same has happened to lawyers engaged in high-profile cases (see cases of Ana Ursachi, Veaceslav Turcan and Maxim Belinschi).”

The session programme can be downloaded here. The session is streamed live on PACE’s website.

Judicial Independence and the Rule of Law

September 21st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Nils Engstad, President of the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE), noted (amongst others) in his intervention at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting on 19 September 2017:

“Therefore, shortcomings in a domestic judicial system can never be a valid argument for politicization or a full governmental take-over of the judiciary.

12. Why so? Because politicization of and political pressure on judiciaries and prosecutors may cause self-censorship and have a chilling-effect on judicial independence and impartiality. Politicization of courts and prosecutors is likely to be followed by adoption of acts and implementation of actions causing widespread negative effects on media-freedom, on the freedom of expression, on the independence of lawyers, on the work of human rights activists and human rights NGOs.”

His intervention can be downloaded here.

Save the Date: CCBE Training Conference, 14 Dec. 2017, Brussels

August 24th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

trainingconf

trainingconfii

 

The Conference will be held in English.

Further information will follow in the coming weeks.

Council of Europe – Moldova Action Plan 2017-2020

May 31st, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

(c) Council of Europe

The Council of Europe (CoE) launched its Action Plan for the Republic of Moldova 2017-2020 during an official visit of the CoE Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland in the country.

The Action Plan outlines a programme that aims ‘to bring Moldovan legislation, institutions and practice further in to line with European Standards and the areas of human rights, the rule of law and democracy.’ The action plan provides for continuous cooperation between the Council of Europe  and Moldovan authorities to ensure the effective implementation of the existing legislative frameworks and to enhance the capacities of national institutions.

The proposed Justice actions will address, amongst others, capacity building activities in close cooperation with the National Institute of Justice and the Moldovan Bar Association. The capacity building activities target judges, prosecutors and lawyers. The objective is to enhance their knowledge and skills concerning the national implementation of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Find more information about the visit here.

(c) Council of Europe

(c) Council of Europe

ECHR Factsheet on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Counsel

May 23rd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

Jointly with the Grand Chamber judgement on the case Simeonovi v. Bulgaria, the European Court of Human Rights Press Unit published on 12 May 2017 a factsheet with an overview of cases related to police arrest and assistance of a lawyer, based on judgements on art. 6 § 3 (c) – right to legal assistance and art. 6 § 1 – right to a fair trial. You can find the factsheet here.

ICJ Principles on the Role of Judges and Lawyers in relation to Refugees and Migrants

May 10th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has developed and published a document that aims to better secure human rights and the rule of law in the context of large movements of refugees and migrants. The Principles on the Role of Judges and Lawyers in relation to Refugees and Migrants has been prepared in consultation with senior judges, lawyers and legal scholars and it is intended to help judges and lawyers, as well as legislators and other government officials. Read more about the document here. 

Protection of Threatened Lawyers

May 2nd, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

On 30 March, the CCBE and ProtectDefenders.eu organised a joint workshop entitled “How to improve the protection of threatened lawyers worldwide? Practical tools from the EU Human Rights Defenders mechanism”. At the workshop, the new online platform “Index of attacks and threats against Human Rights Defenders” created by the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism, was launched.

ProtectDefenders.eu is the European Union Human Rights Defenders mechanism, established to protect defenders at high risk and facing the most difficult situations worldwide. It is led by a Consortium of 12 NGOs active in the field of Human Rights.

Independence of the judiciary in Poland

April 6th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights has addressed an open letter to the Polish Parliament’s lower chamber. The letter calls the Sejm representatives to reject the proposed amendments to the Act on the National Council for the Judiciary, due to concerns over the independence of the judiciary. Read the announcement here.

Moldova- Association Agreement Report 2017

March 15th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

EEAS has published on the 13 March the 2017 report on the implementation of the Association Agreement between the EU and Moldova. The report is based on the Association Agenda and the steps taken to implement reforms as per the agreed areas of cooperation. The first area “Political dialogue, good governance and strengthening institutions” concerns, inter alia, the subject of human rights and fundamental freedoms, which the report concludes requires tackling weaknesses in the justice sector. It is also pointed out: “Perceived political interference in the judiciary and law enforcement is a systemic impediment to social and economic development. There have also been instances of judges being prosecuted for their decisions. The same goes for lawyers engaged in high-profile cases. The EU and other international partners have questioned the wide-spread use of pre-trial detention, especially in cases linked to participation in demonstrations.” Read the full document here.

The CCBE has received several reports from the Moldovan Bar Association of cases in which professional rights of lawyer were breached. A letter addressed to public authorities in Moldova regarding these cases was sent beginning January 2017.