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DPAInf200832

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Just a few days prior to that, the EMC stated that the MoJ had rejected its Three rounds of 4-day training sessions on the ECHR in the framework of

DPA/Inf(2008)32

    15 December 2008

    With the compliments of the Director General of Democracy of Political Affairs Avec les compliments du Directeur Général de la Démocratie et des Affaires Politiques

INFORMATION NOTE

    FOR THE ATTENTION OF THE MINISTERS’ DEPUTIES

    __________

NOTE D'INFORMATION

    A L'ATTENTION DES DELEGUES DES MINISTRES

RE: Report from the Council of Europe Field Offices and other Structures* /

    November 2008

     Rapport des Bureaux et autres structures du Conseil de l’Europe sur le terrain* /

    novembre 2008

Please find attached the Report from the Council of Europe Field Offices and other

    Structures for November 2008.

_________________________

    Veuillez trouver ci-joint le rapport des Bureaux et autres structures du Conseil de l‟Europe sur le terrain pour novembre 2008.

Ce document n‟existe qu‟en anglais

* For a more complete list of activities, see the Council of Europe activities database (CEAD)

     http://dsp.coe.int/CEAD / Pour une liste plus complète des activités, voir la base de

    données des activités du Conseil de l‟Europe (CEAD) – http://dsp.coe.int/CEAD

     DPA/Inf(2008)32

Yerevan

1. Political and legislative developments

    On 10 November, the Council of the governing coalition (Republican, Prosperous Armenia, ARF-Dashnaktsutiun and the Rule of Law parties) completed the cycle of

    nominations to the fact-finding group of experts by appointing their nominees, Mr Gevorg Tovmasyan and Mr Robert Avagyan. The five-member group also includes the

    opposition-nominated experts, Ms Seda Safaryan (Heritage Party) and Mr Andranik

    Kocharyan (from the movement lead by Mr Lev Ter-Petrosyan), as well as the

    Ombudsman‟s appointee, Mr Vahe Stepanyan. It held its first meeting on 11 November. The Ombudsman‟s representative was elected Chairman of the group.

Shortly after the group had started its work, Mr Ter-Petrosyan’s Armenian National

    Congress and Heritage Party issued a joint statement protesting against the decision to

    choose the National Assembly premises for the meetings of the fact finding group of

    experts where, according to them, the identity of witnesses could not be kept secret. The

    opposition‟s preference is the Ombudsman‟s Office. They threatened to leave the group, if the location for meetings would not be changed.

On 17 November, journalist Edik Baghdasaryan, Chairman of Investigative Journalists NGO

    was attacked and severely beaten by three unidentified persons.

At the initiative of President Sargsyan discussions on the current stage of settlement of

    the Nagorno Karabakh conflict were held on 20 November. All leaders of the registered political parties were invited. Mr Ter-Petrosyan did not take part in such event.

2. Council of Europe action

    In fulfilment of the verdict of the European Court of Human Rights, the Armenian government approved on 6 November the payment of 30,000 Euros in damages to A1+.

    The Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg visited Yerevan on 20-22 November to assess the progress of investigations into the events of 1-2 March and the

    situation of persons deprived of their liberty in connection with those events. The

    Commissioner will report his findings to the PACE Monitoring Committee on 17 December.

3. Activities of the Information Office

Preparation and translation of four press releases for website and dissemination.

    Translation and summarising of the articles from the print press for the daily news digest on the website under http://www.coe.am/digests.php?date=26-04-2008 .

     thLayout and publication of the 11 issue of Council of Europe-Republic of Armenia bilingual

    Newsletter

    Update of the web-site section: CoE Campaigns http://www.coe.am/page.php?page_id=47

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    (Section on Death Penalty Campaign added, the link to the "Through the Wild Web Woods"

    e-game provided).

Layout and publication of the booklet „Abolishing Corporal Punishment of Children:

    Questions and Answers‟

Organisation

Continuation of a series of lectures for Yerevan State University Journalism Department.

    The project is organised by CoE, OSCE, EC, UN and NATO information Office. (50 copies

    of CoE booklets and CDs were distributed to students).

Logistical and information support to the special mission of CoE Commissioner for Human

    Rights (20-22 November). The IOCE organised the Commissioner‟s press-conference,

    facilitated his interview to „The 25 minutes‟ prime time programme on Public TV and

    provided media coverage of the visit.

Statistics of the office:

    a) general information/library 7 visitors, 250 phone inquiries

    b) ECtHR information 1 person

    c) Website: www.coe.am

    - Total Hits: 48558/ Average Hits per Day: 1619/ Average Visitors per Day: 52

    - Total Visitors: 1548

Ms Silvia ZEHE

    Special Representative of the SG

    Tel: +374 10 54 63 22 - Fax: +374 10 54 63 19

    E-mail: silvia.zehe@coe.int

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Baku

1. Political and legislative developments

The month of November was marked by the joint Trilateral Declaration signed by the

    Presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia in Moscow on 2 November, following a meeting initiated by the Russian President, on the “settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict by political means, through continuation of direct dialogue between Azerbaijan and

    Armenia, with the mediation of Russia, USA and France as co-chairman of the OSCE Minsk

    Group”. The Declaration also has a reference to the Madrid principles elaborated within the

    mediation process by the OSCE Minsk Group in November 2007. Many political forces in

    the country welcomed the Declaration, though there were also some critical voices.

The other major topic in November concerned the statements made by the Chairman of the

    National TV and Radio Council (NTRC) on 31 October of the planned discontinuation of broadcasting of foreign radio channels in Azerbaijan as of January 2009. Though the final decision on this issue is due to be taken within the second half of December, this would

    in particular affect Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), the Voice of America and

    the BBC. Many international actors have raised serious concerns about these plans, including

    PACE Co-Rapporteur Andres Herkel, as well as the EU Special Representative for the South

    Caucasus Peter Semneby. The criticism that has been raised centres on the need for media

    pluralism in Azerbaijan and the need for continuation of this radio broadcasting as

    independent media outlets.

Other questions include the possibility of introducing changes to the law on political parties,

    in particular on the financing of parties. Also, some members from the ruling Yeni

    Azerbaijan Party (YAP) spoke about introducing amendments to the constitution so as to

    abolish the prohibition of more than two consecutive terms for the presidential office. The

    reasoning for the latter was that such a restriction does not correspond to democratic

    principles and that it violates the people‟s right to vote.

    On 25 November, the Parliament adopted the state budget for 2009. Revenues are projected to rise by 16.1 % to 12.177 billion AZN (27.9 % of GDP) and expenditures are expected to

    increase by 11.7 % to 12.355 billion AZN (28.3 % of GDP).

Also in November, a number of important court hearings took place. On 25 November, the

    Appellate Court rejected the case submitted by the local NGO Election Monitoring Centre (EMC) and thereby upheld the first instance decision on its deregistration of 14 May, upon

    the initiative of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ). Just a few days prior to that, the EMC stated

    that the MoJ had rejected its application for re-registration.

    On 24 November, a district court rejected the case introduced by imprisoned editor-in-chief Eynulla Fatullayev’s lawyer Isakhan Ashurov against the Minister of Foreign Affairs

    (MFA) Elmar Mammadyarov. The case concerned an information request sent by the

    lawyer to the MFA, requesting the disclosure of the identity of the persons who had

    expressed concerns to the MFA following an article written by Fatullayev (“The Aliyevs go

    to war”) and which constituted the basis for prosecution of Fatullayev.

    The opposition co-operation centre (uniting the movements of Isa Gambar‟s Musavat, Eldar Namazov‟s “For the Sake of Azerbaijan” and the “Azadlig” trio bloc of Ali Kerimli‟s

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    Popular Front, Lala Shovket‟s National Unity Movement and Ali Aliyev‟s Citizen and

    Development Party) initiated a court case against Baku Executive Authorities due to the non-

    sanctioning of holding rallies in the city centre. The court hearings commenced on 27

    November.

As for the court case on the re-opening of Abu Bakr Mosque following the bomb explosion

    of 17 August (mosque with followers of Salafi/“Wahhabism”), hearings were postponed sine

    die, as the assigned judge died on 25 November. A new judge was appointed two days later.

    2. Council of Europe action

On 4-7 November, two Round Tables on Penitentiary Training Curricula were conducted

    with the participation of CoE experts under the project on penitentiary reform.

Also on 4-7 November, under the AZPAC project, international experts paid a visit for the

    preparation of a report on compliance of Azerbaijani legislation with the CoE Criminal and

    Civil Law Conventions and the UN Convention against Corruption.

On 5-8 November, a joint conference of the Council of Europe, Ministry of Youth and Sport

    of Azerbaijan, the Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Co-operation and the

    European Youth Forum was held in Baku. The Conference was devoted to Islamophobia and

    other forms of discrimination based on religion and belief. It was attended by over 120

    representatives from 43 countries.

On 5-6 November, a Training Seminar was held for the staff of the Ombudsman Office on

    articles 3 and 5 of the ECHR.

On 12-13 November, CoE experts conducted a Training Seminar on the ECHR for the first

    group of the judges appointed under the new selection procedure.

On 19-20 November, the SRSG participated in the regional Conference “Justice and Rule of

    Law in the South Caucasus achievements and challenges for the judicial professions” held

    in Tbilisi/Georgia under the Swedish Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers and

    organised in co-operation with the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

On 15 and 22 November in Baku, training sessions were organised in the cascade training

    seminars for prosecutors on the case-law of the European Court of Human Rights. These

    were the last sessions within this project which thereby is coming to a close.

In the reporting month, the office also published, in Azerbaijani, the ECHR Handbook on

    property rights and the CoE book “Incitement to terrorism”. It further created special web-

    pages on the anti-discrimination campaign and the campaign Building Europe for and with

    Children (against corporal punishment). Lastly, it also re-voiced the TV spots in the latter

    campaign, as well as in the anti-death penalty campaign.

3. Other action / co-ordination and co-operation with partner organisations

Throughout November, the SRSG met with a number of counterparts from the national and

    international community (authorities, diplomatic corps and international organisations, as

    well as civil society).

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    On 6 November, an office representative attended the round table “Partnership in the sake of civil society development” organised by the Council on State Support to NGOs under the

    Presidential Administration.

On 6 November, the SRSG attended the Human Dimension Meeting of embassies and

    international organisations based in Baku.

On 20 November, an office representative attended the court hearing of imprisoned editor-

    in-chief Eynulla Fatullayev‟s lawyer Isakhan Ashurov against the Foreign Minister Elmar

    Mammadyarov.

    On 21 November, an office representative participated in the conference “Protection of Human Rights at Law Enforcement Activity” devoted to the 60th anniversary of the

    Universal Declaration of Human Rights and organised by the Ombudsman Office and the

    Police Academy of Internal Affairs.

On 24 November, the SRSG chaired the regular meeting of the International Legal Reform

    Group (ILRG) with participation of representatives from OSCE, ABA RoLI, US Embassy

    and UNHCR.

On 25 November, the SRSG made a speech at the opening of the photo exhibition organised

    by the Ministry of Youth and Sport to display the results of the competition under the CoE

    European Heritage days.

On 28 November, the SRSG paid a visit to imprisoned editor-in-chief Eynulla Fatullayev,

    together with representatives of the OSCE and of the embassies of France, Germany,

    Norway and the US and a national NGO.

Statistics: The office translated 5 press releases and sent daily media monitoring to

    headquarters. It also provided CoE promotional material and publications to one local youth

    NGO and to the Centre for disabled children. The office answered 119 requests by phone,

    including 22 from journalists and on general information on the CoE, as well as 15 requests

    on the ECtHR and application procedures. It further welcomed 41 visitors, including 3

    journalists and 1 NGO representative to establish relations with the office and 10 university

    students and 2 scholars to visit the CoE library, as well as 25 persons wishing to obtain an

    ECtHR application form. The web site registered 766 hits (422 users).

Ms Veronika KOTEK

    Special Representative of the SG

    Tel: +994 124 975 489 - Fax: +994 124 975 475

    E-mail: veronika.kotek@coe.int

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    Sarajevo

1. Political and legislative developments

Possible reshuffling of State and Federation Governments after October local elections

    On 4 November, the Chairman of the Croat HDZ 1990, Bozo Ljubic, current State level Minister for transport and communication, resigned from his ministerial duties. Although

    HDZ 1990 had fared badly at the local elections, Ljubic‟s resignation as chairman of the

    party was not accepted.

European Commission Issues 2008 Progress Report

    On 5 November, the European Commission in Bosnia published its annual progress report on Bosnia-Herzegovina. Positive developments include implementation of the public

    administration reform strategy, adoption of a judicial reform strategy, the State Court‟s

    timely prosecution of war crimes, and the conduct of the October 2008 local elections.

    However the Commission noted that the momentum gained by the signing of the

    Stabilization and Association Agreement in June 2008 has been largely lost due to the lack

    of consensus on state-building, challenges to the Dayton Peace Agreement, and

    inflammatory statements. The report underlined the lack of progress on constitutional reform,

    stating that the European Commission would like to see “evolution rather than revolution.”

    Additional hurdles discussed in the report include the lack of an up-to-date census and

    frequent challenges to the country‟s constitutional order.

    On 10 November, Bernard Kouchner (French Minister of Foreign and European Affairs), Javier Solana (High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, and Secretary-

    General of the Council of the European Union), and Olli Rehn (European Union

    Enlargement Commissioner) sent a letter to the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the

    Chair of the Council of Ministers, and entity Ministers in which they expressed their concern

    about the political climate in the country.

The leaders of the three strongest parties after the October local elections (SDA, HDZ BiH

    and SNSD, Sulejman Tihic, Dragan Covic and Milorad Dodik), reached an agreement on 8

    November in Prud, near Odzak, on the constitutional reform, census, apportionment of

    state property and the status of Brcko District.

This joint statement says that they agree to conduct the constitutional reform through

    amendments to the existing BiH Constitution, using the expert help of international

    institutions. They agreed to harmonize the Constitution with the European Convention on

    Human Rights. The subject of the constitutional reform will be the establishment of

    additional competencies of the state, better functioning of BiH institutions, and the territorial

    structure, that is the central level of authority. The party leaders agreed to register as state

    ownership immovable property necessary for the work of state institutions. They also agreed

    that a census should be conducted in 2011, after a law on census at state level is adopted.

    The census will include all the questions about ethnic, religious and linguistic affiliation. The

    only condition is that the 1991 census be used as a basis for ethnic representation in state,

    entity, cantonal and municipal institutions until 2014. Finally, the status of Brcko District

    will be regulated with a law, if this proposal is supported with a two third majority vote in

    the Parliament (constitutional majority). The Prud/Odzak agreement has already been

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rejected by Haris Silajdzic (SbiH), Zlatko Lagumdzija (SDP) and by the leader of the HDZ

    1990, Bozo Ljubic.

Peace Implementation Council steering board meets in Brussels

At its 19-20 November meeting in Brussels, the Steering Board of the Peace

    Implementation Council (PIC) registered its „deep concern‟ over the lack of progress and

    continuing political infighting in Bosnia and Herzegovina since the last PIC meeting in late

    June. The BiH authorities‟ record in fulfilling the five objectives and two conditions, set by

    the PIC in February, was considered too unsatisfactory to envisage closure of the Office of

    the High Representative.

The 8 November agreement by the three party presidents (see above) was hailed as having

    the potential to produce breakthroughs if majorities sufficient to pass the requisite legislation

    could be forged. The Steering Board‟s list of worrying political developments was, however,

    quite long. It cited lack of progress in capitalising on the 16 June signature of the

    Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the European Union to speed up

    required reforms.

The PIC will meet again in Sarajevo in late March 2009.

EUFOR mandate extended for another year

On 20 November, following the decision of EU Foreign ministers to keep a military

    presence in BiH, the UN Security Council unanimously decided to extend by another year

    the mandate of the EU peacekeeping mission in BiH, EUFOR.

At its session on 26 November, the BiH Presidency rejected the draft budget for 2009

    proposed by the BiH Council of Ministers.

    On 26 November the RS Government sent to the BiH Prosecutor‟s Office criminal reports against nine people on "suspicion of involvement in a criminal enterprise with the aim to

    harm the interests of the RS". Criminal charges were filed against the BiH Acting Chief

    Prosecutor, Milorad Barasanin, the Principal Deputy to HR, Raffi Gregorian and five

    other people.

Nedzad Brankovic, the Prime Minister of the Federation of BiH (FBiH), made public a

    proposal for changes in the work of the FBiH Government. The proposal requires amending

    the FBiH Constitution, and will thus require the support of all major political groups.

    According to the proposal, the current 16 ministries would be reduced to 12 (six Bosniaks,

    four Croats and two Serbs), the procedures of adoption of laws within the FBiH House of

    Peoples would be simplified and accelerated and the competences of the FBiH President

    would be reduced.

    On 13 November, Zagreb condemned an attack against a family of ethnic Croats who had returned to their home in BiH. No one suffered injuries when a grenade struck their house in

    Gradac, near the northern town of Derventa.

    On 20 November, a Federal judge in Washington ruled that five Algerians imprisoned at the

    Guantanamo Bay military camp had been illegally detained, and ordered their release.

    A sixth Guantanamo inmate, also from Algeria and arrested with the others in Bosnia-

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    Herzegovina in 2002, was considered to have been legally detained. This ruling is still

    subject to appeal.

    2. Council of Europe action

    On 17 November 2008 Bosnia and Herzegovina signed and ratified the Convention on

    the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (CETS No. 104).

    On 12 November, the SRSG attended the Regional Conference on Youth Policies and Youth

    Civic Participation, organised by the Forum Syd Balkan Program (FSBP) and the Youth

    Commission of the BiH Council of Ministers. On 13 November, she attended a Workshop

    for all prison directors in BiH, co-organised by the CoE office in Sarajevo, OSCE and

    EUPM.

On 14 November, the SRSG met with Mr Vedran Hadzovic, from the Central Election

    Commission. On 17 November, the SRSG met with Mr Mirsad Tokaca and visited the

    Research and Documentation Center on war crimes (RDC). From 19- 20 November, the

    SRSG attended the Peace Implementation Council Steering Board Political Directors, which

    took place in Brussels

On 27 November, the SRSG attended a meeting of the donors involved in the construction of

    the state prison with the Ministry of Justice of BiH, and met with the Country Manager of

    the Council of Europe Development Bank.

The SRSG had regular contacts with members of the IC, notably with the OSCE on arrival

    of the new Head of Mission, the OHR on visit of the GR-DEM ambassadors, and the EUSR

    on the Parliament for Europe Project. The SRSG also attended meetings of the Board of

    Principals on 6, 13 and 27 November.

CoE office activities

Rule of Law: Prison Reform Project

3-5 and 10-12 November, Tuzla and Istocno Sarajevo: Series of refreshment training

    sessions for female prison officers delivered by the prison staff training team. The

    programme was based on the training manual containing operational procedures for the core

    competencies of prison staff in direct contact with prisoners.

10 November, Sarajevo: Meeting of the Working group on execution of criminal

    sanctions supporting the Justice Sector Reform Strategy 2008-2012.

13 November, Sarajevo: Workshop (co-organised by OSCE, EUPM and CoE) for

    prison directors, including a number of newly appointed ones. (CEAD 24750)

Human Rights

20-21 November 2008, Sarajevo, Seminar for judges and journalists on Article 10 of the

    European Convention on Human Rights in the context of the Law against Defamation in

    Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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