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

October 16th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

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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.

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

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.

Professional rights of lawyers under attack in Moldova

March 6th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The Moldovan Bar Association has issued a press release on 1 March 2017 regarding abuses by state authorities against lawyers. The Bar Association condemns the repeated actions of intimidation and attacks against lawyers initiated by state authorities, such as the criminal charges brought against lawyers Veaceslav Turcan and Maxim Belinschi. The CCBE has addressed a letter of support to the Moldovan lawyers in January 2017.

Moldova – Access to legal profession

January 30th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

This post follows-up the post The Republic of Moldova – access to the legal profession.

The national Parliament has abandoned a draft bill after opposition was publicly expressed by the Moldovan Bar Association and other institutions in Moldova (including the Moldovan Women Lawyers Association and the National Anti-Corruption Office) as well as the CCBE. The draft bill contained a clause permitting members of parliament with an experience of 10 years as law-makers to become lawyers without sitting a bar examination and following a traineeship. The CCBE letter to the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova is available here.

Violation of professional rights in Moldova

January 12th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

The Moldovan Bar Association has issued a public statement and has addressed an open letter to Moldovan authorities on the subject of ongoing violations of lawyers’ rights. The Bar is concerned with numerous cases in which criminal proceedings are started or resumed against lawyers’, breaches of the professional independence and identification of lawyers’ with their clients. The open letter also refers to cases in which Moldovan lawyers are prevented from accesing their clients in detention centers, a situation that is continuing since September 2016. The CCBE has addressed a letter of concern to several authorities in the Republic of Moldova.

 

‘EU-Council of Europe Support for the Moldovan Bar’ rounds up

January 6th, 2017 § 0 comments § permalink

On the 21 of December, the ‘Support for the Moldovan Bar’ component rounded up its strategy implementation in a conference organized in Moldova’s capital Chisinau. It registered positive developments in strengthening lawyers’ engagement in society, as well as in international relations with other organizations, including the CCBE. The component is a support group for the national Moldovan Bar and has been active since March 2015. More information can be found here.

Training of lawyers: Conference to support the Moldovan Bar in its reforms

November 23rd, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

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Speakers’ panel

On 18 November 2016, experts from the CCBE – including the former CCBE President, Maria Ślązak – participated in a conference to support the Moldovan Bar’s plans of reform of training of (future) lawyers. The conference was organised by the Council of Europe within the framework of the EU funded ‘Programmatic Cooperation Framework for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgian, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus‘ and hosted by the National Institute of Justice of Moldova. Reforms in the justice sector and the fight against corruption are at the centre of the assistance programmes in Moldova.

The conference allowed for a very lively and fruitful exchange between the Moldovan Bar, headed by Nina Losan, and members of the Bar as well as individual Moldovan lawyers, experts from across Europe (Finland, France, Georgia, Ireland and Poland), and representatives of the European Young Bar Association and European Women Lawyers Association.

The morning session of the conference focused on the continuous training (CT) of lawyers. Moldovan lawyers have to undergo 40 hours of training per year which is high compared to other European countries (see CCBE brief layout on CT of lawyers). There was agreement amongst participants that it would be best for the Moldovan Bar to start with a lower number of hours (to be decided by the Bar) and increase it gradually, as was done by the Georgian Bar Association. The number of hours should be set by the Bar, rather than by the Law. Currently, most of the training activities are organised by (foreign) donors and NGOs, in cooperation with the Moldovan Bar. However, the Bar has started considering how it could offer training courses, for instance, by creating a Training center. The presentations of experts have shown that Bars across Europe organise themselves differently in this respect; whereas the Georgian Bar established a training center (4-7 members of staff), the Finnish Bar has no such centre, the activities are organised by the Bar’s training department (2 members of staff), which works closely with the Finnish Bar Education/Training committee. Discussions have shown that the Bars’ decision as to how to deliver training (e.g. through which structure) will very often depend on a number of factors, including the number of lawyers, the training needs in a specific country, and the CT requirement imposed upon lawyers. Training structures are usually financed by the Bars. The courses will – in most cases – not be free, as membership fees are not sufficient to cover them. Very often, lawyers will therefore have to pay – at least part – of the training course fees. For more information on the countries’ systems, see presentations below.

The afternoon session of the conference was dedicated to the admission into the profession – the presentations delivered at the conference showed how different the rules are (see presentations below). Georgia, for instance, requires future lawyers to have ‘Higher Legal Education’, to pass a Bar exam and to carry out a 1 year traineeship, which includes a 3-months training period at the High School Advocates. The exam is done electronically. It was introduced to counter any allegations of corruption. The Finnish, French, Irish and Polish systems are different from the Georgian regime. Discussions have shown that each country’s system will have developed over years, taking into account the legal and cultural traditions as well as training needs in a certain country, which explains these differences. Most Bars will however provide for Higher Education in Law, a traineeship, and a Bar exam. The participants felt that the Georgian model, in particular the electronic Bar exam, could be something to be considered in Moldova.

The CCBE will continue to provide expertise through its members and will follow with great interest the reforms which will be undertaken as a follow-up to the conference.

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Conference participants

Presentations:

Continuous Training

Finland, France, Georgia, Ireland

Initial Training

Finland_The Bar Exam, France, Georgia, Assessment and Admission in Ireland (Solicitors)

See also publications on the website of the Bar Association of Moldova (click here) and the National Institute of Justice of the Republic of Moldova which hosted the event (click here) and .

Council of Europe / EU supporting continuous training for lawyers in Moldova

November 9th, 2016 § 0 comments § permalink

As part of a series of activities aimed at strengthening the capacity of the Moldovan Bar Association to organise continuous training for lawyers, the “Support to the Moldovan Bar Association” component of the PCF Project on Strengthening the efficiency of justice and support to lawyers’ profession in the Republic of Moldova organised the following events:

  • a workshop on the institutionalisation of the lawyers’ continuous training, which took place on 3 November, and
  • a training of trainers, which took place on 4-5 November.

Note: the component on the “Support to the Moldovan Bar Association” of the “Strengthening the efficiency of justice and support to lawyers’ profession in the Republic of Moldova” project is funded by the Programmatic Cooperation Framework for Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and Belarus. The Council of Europe and European Union are working in partnership with these countries to help them meet Council of Europe benchmarks in human rights, democracy and the rule of law and improve the lives of citizens.