The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers has adopted a decision on the agenda item “Council of Europe and Conflict in Georgia”Thursday, 05 May 2022 12:43
The Council of Europe Committee of Ministers adopted its ninth decision on the agenda item “Council of Europe and Conflict in Georgia” on 4 May 2022.
The decision of the Committee of Ministers establishes the responsibility of the Russian Federation for the grave situation in Georgia’s occupied regions as the State exercising effective control over those regions. The document welcomes the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case Georgia v. Russia that established the responsibility of the Russian Federation for grave human rights violations during the period of occupation of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia following the August 2008 war, as the State exercising effective control over those regions
The Committee of Ministers also welcomes the decision of the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to issue an arrest warrant application for the war crimes committed in the context of the August 2008 armed conflict in Georgia, and calls on the Russian Federation to execute the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case Georgia v. Russia as well as to co-operate with the Office of prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
The Committee of Ministers expresses deep concern over the death of Genadi Bestaev, calls for removal of any obstacles to ending impunity in cases concerning the murder of ethnic Georgians in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia and recalls the “Otkhozaria-Tatunashvili List” adopted by the Parliament of Georgia, and the national restrictive measures decided on by the Georgian Government against those responsible for grave human rights abuses in the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia.
The Decision reiterates the call to the Russian Federation as the State exercising effective control: to immediately release Irakli Bebua, Mamuka Chkhikvadze and all other illegal detainees; to create conditions for the voluntary, safe and dignified return of all IDPs and refugees; calls for ensuring that the Council of Europe monitoring bodies are granted access to the Georgian regions concerned.
The document highlights the importance of engagement of the Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretary General in monitoring the human righst situation in the Russian-occupied regions of Georgia.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia welcomes yet another decision of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers on the conflict in Georgia and thanks the CoE Member States for firm support and cooperation.
MFA of Georgia
Strasbourg, 14.04.2022 - A general policy debate on the consequences of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine will be at the centre of the spring plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), to be held in hybrid format from 25 to 28 April 2022.
In the context of this aggression, there has also been a request for an urgent debate on ensuring accountability for serious violations of international humanitarian law.
Sergio Mattarella, President of the Italian Republic, is due to address the Assembly at midday on Wednesday, and will answer questions from the parliamentarians.
The Assembly also debates reports on strengthening the strategic partnership between the Council of Europe and the EU, safeguarding and promoting genuine democracy in Europe, and on how to put confiscated criminal assets to good use.
Also on the agenda are reports on combating children’s exposure to pornographic content, on the deinstitutionalisation of persons with disabilities, on preventing excessive and unjustified use of force by law enforcement officers, on tackling discrimination based on social origin, and on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Georgia.
Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, will also present her annual activity report for 2021, and take questions from the parliamentarians. Marija Pejčinović Burić, the Council of Europe Secretary General, holds the usual question time with PACE members.
Benedetto Della Vedova, Undersecretary of State at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, will present the Communication from the Committee of Ministers in the framework of Italy’s Council of Europe Presidency.
The Assembly will decide its final agenda on the first day of the session.
of the PACE
Strasbourg, 16 March2022 - Reacting to recent so-called “parliamentary elections” held on 12 March 2022 in the Abkhazia region in Georgia, the President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, Leendert Verbeek, made the following statement:
“By organising these “elections”, the so-called “de facto” authorities of Abkhazia, once again, undermined the principle of the territorial integrity of Georgia forcing this region further into isolation, to the detriment of the local population.
The Congress has always shown its unrelenting commitment to the territorial integrity of member States within its internationally recognised borders. This principle is all the more important in the current context of the Russian military aggression against Ukraine.
Not only since 24 February we know that the illegal recognition of territories of other member States can be only one step ahead of further aggression and war. This is the bitter lesson we have to learn, eventually.
Therefore, all sort of action undermining the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a member State, is to be strongly condemned. The so-called “elections” organised in Abkhazia fall under this category and do not recognise the illegal occupation of Abkhazia by the Russian Federation. The “vote” organised in Abkhazia on 12 March, instead of strengthening, further erodes stability in this region and is, moreover, the wrong signal at the wrong time.”
Strasbourg, 15.03.2022 - The Russian Federation “committed grave violations of the Council of Europe Statute incompatible with the status of a member State, does not bear its undertakings before the Council of Europe and does not comply with the commitments before it”. Therefore, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) considers that the Russian Federation “can no longer be a member State of the Organisation”.
In the Assembly’s opinion, the Committee of Ministers should request the Russian Federation “to immediately withdraw from the Council of Europe”. If the country does not comply with the request, the Assembly suggests that the Committee of Ministers “determines the immediate possible date” from which the Russian Federation would cease to be a member.
The text, adopted unanimously at the end of an extraordinary plenary session, expresses solidarity with Ukraine, the Ukrainian people and PACE’s Ukrainian members, reaffirming “unwavering support for the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders”.
The Assembly is deeply disturbed by evidence of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by the Russian Federation, including attacks against civilian targets and humanitarian corridors, “indiscriminate use of artillery, missiles, and bombing” as well as hostage taking. It notes with shock the “reckless attacks” by Russian armed forces on nuclear facilities in Ukraine. Accordingly, it supports “all efforts aimed at ensuring accountability”.
The parliamentarians applauded the generosity and solidarity shown by neighbouring countries, who continue to take in hundreds of thousands of refugees, most of them women and children, while in the Russian Federation anti-war protests are harshly repressed, freedom of expression and assembly curtailed, and almost all independent news organisations closed.
In the event that the Russian Federation ceases to be a member of the Organisation, the Council of Europe should, according to PACE, envisage initiatives to be able to continue “to support and engage with human rights defenders, democratic forces, free media and independent civil society”.
In view of the participation of Belarus in the aggression, PACE Bureau should “suspend relations” between the Assembly and the country’s authorities in all its activities.
At the end of the seating, PACE President Tiny Kox stated: “we are sad that today we had to ask to expel a State which has been a member of our Organisation for over 25 years, but I’m glad that we dared to do it. There is no place in this Organisation for those who cross red lines.”
Note to editors
On 10 March last, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided to consult the Assembly on potential further measures to be taken, after suspending the Russian Federation's rights of representation under Article 8 (*) of the Organisation's Statute on 25 February in response to "serious violations" of its statutory obligations as a member State.
According to Article 8, any member of the Council of Europe which has seriously violated Article 3 may be suspended from its right of representation and requested by the Committee of Ministers to withdraw under Article 7. If such member does not comply with this request, the Committee may decide that it has ceased to be a member of the Council from such date as the Committee may determine.
Session special page: Ingjerd Schou’s report, adopted text, voting results, Session’s special page (verbatim of the debate, videos, pictures…)
Council of Europe leaders make joint statement on the exclusion of the Russian Federation from the Council of EuropeWednesday, 16 March 2022 09:53
The Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Chair of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, Luigi Di Maio, the President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Tiny Kox, and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, have made the following statement:
“As leaders of the Council of Europe we expressed on several occasions our firm condemnation of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine. This unjustified and unprovoked aggression led to the decision of the Committee of Ministers and the Parliamentary Assembly to initiate the procedure of expulsion of the Russian Federation from the Council of Europe provided under Article 8 of the Statute.
In this framework, tonight, the Parliamentary Assembly unanimously considered that the Russian Federation should no longer be a member State of the Organisation. The Committee of Ministers will hold an extraordinary meeting tomorrow morning also in the light of today’s notification by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation of the Russian leadership’s decision to withdraw from the Council of Europe.
Through their actions in Ukraine the Russian authorities deprive the Russian people of the benefit of the most advanced human rights protection system in the world, including the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and our vast convention system.
We express solidarity with the Russian people who, we firmly believe, share democratic values and aspire to remain part of the European family where they belong.
We remain determined to use all means at our disposal to provide support, relief and legal remedies to the Ukrainian people in their fight against the aggressor and to continue the pursuit of peace based on justice and international co-operation.
It is important in these difficult times for Europe to stand strong and united by Ukraine, its authorities and the Ukrainian people."
Council of Europe leaders make joint statement on the aggression of the Russian Federation against UkraineWednesday, 09 March 2022 12:14
Strasbourg, 08.03.2022 – The Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and Chair of the Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers, Luigi Di Maio, the President of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, Tiny Kox, and the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, have made the following statement:
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the Russian Federation’s unprovoked aggression against Ukraine, an unjustified military attack of one member State of the Council of Europe against another member State. We reiterate our unwavering support for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.
On 25 February 2022, following an exchange of views with the Parliamentary Assembly, the Committee of Ministers decided to suspend the Russian Federation from the Council of Europe in accordance with Article 8 of the Statute and reaffirmed the principles to which we are unanimously committed, in particular respect for the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. The Committee also called on the Russian Federation to immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations in Ukraine.
We call on the Russian Federation to implement the interim measures indicated by the European Court of Human Rights on 1 and 4 March 2022. The right to life must be respected and guaranteed. In this respect we call on the Russian Federation to refrain from military attacks against civilians and civilian objects, to ensure the safety of medical establishments, personnel and emergency vehicles, to ensure unimpeded access of the civilian population to safe evacuation routes, healthcare, food and other essential supplies, as well as to ensure rapid and unconstrained passage of humanitarian aid and movement of humanitarian workers.
The Council of Europe also reiterates its call upon Russian authorities to comply with the principles and values of democracy, human rights and the rule of law which our Organisation represents on its own territory. The Russian Federation must guarantee to all persons under its jurisdiction the rights and freedoms enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, including the right to liberty and security, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
We once again call on the Russian Federation to stop its aggression, return to the path of diplomacy and fully recommit to European values. We will continue to follow the situation closely and remain committed to taking further measures.”
Statement by Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić on the recognition of the so-called “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk by the Russian FederationTuesday, 22 February 2022 11:27
“The recognition of the so-called ‘people’s republics’ of Donetsk and Luhansk by the Russian Federation is in violation of international law and represents a unilateral breach of the Minsk agreements - which remain the only basis for a settlement of the conflict in Donbas.
The Council of Europe affirms its unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders.
We call on the Russian Federation to reverse this decision and abstain from further aggravating the situation.
We insistently call our member states to solve their disagreement through dialogue based on respect of the principles enshrined in the Statute of the Council of Europe, and in the European Convention on Human Rights.”
Statement by Council of Europe Secretary General
CyberEast delivers a training course on Financial Investigation, Virtual Currency and Darknet for police and prosecutors in Georgia
The Darkweb is becoming increasingly a place where illegal activity thrives and criminals function in perceived anonymity. Reportedly, almost 30% of hidden services on Tor relate to some form of illicit activity, such as selling illicit drugs, weapons, compromised data, counterfeit documents, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and other illicit products.
In this regard, the CyberEast project, a joint project of the European Union and the Council of Europe, has delivered a training course on Financial Investigation, Virtual Currency and Darknet for a group of 21 Georgian investigators and prosecutors on matters of cybercrime and financial investigations, during 2-4 February 2022, training which took place in Tsinandali, Georgia. This event has closed the series of similar training initiatives offered by the project in all of the region's countries (except Belarus).
There was good feedback received from the participants regarding the practical explanation of the blockchain analysis used during this training along with other issues raised, such as different Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP) and the way Georgian citizens own and trade cryptocurrencies.
CyberEast will continue to support the criminal justice institutions in the EaP in strengthening their capacities in cybercrime and electronic evidence, by focusing on parallel financial investigations and intelligence, online crime proceeds, financial fraud and money laundering offences, as well as looking more closely into the matters of virtual currencies and Darknet investigations in the context of “follow the money” concept.
On 25 January 2022, during her official visit to Strasbourg, Nino Lomjaria, Public Defender of Georgia, met with Dunja Mijatović, Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Public Defender briefed the Human Rights Commissioner on the human rights situation in Georgia. Media environment, situation of equality and the need for monitoring human rights in the occupied territories were also topics of discussion.
Nino Lomjaria stressed the importance of the Commissioner’s support to human rights defenders and media representatives, who have been particularly pressured and attacked in recent years.
Talks also focused on the abolition of the State Inspector’s institution. The Public Defender informed the Council of Europe Commissioner of the constitutional complaint filed by her to request the declaration of the legislative changes adopted by the Parliament of Georgia on December 30, 2021 as unconstitutional.
Public Defender of Georgia
Strasbourg, 17.12.2021 - Following their visit to the country from 8 to 10 December 2021, the rapporteurs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for the Monitoring Procedure in respect of Georgia, Mr Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC) and Mr Claude Kern (France, ALDE), expressed their serious concern about the extremely polarised political climate in the country which is foreclosing any political co-operation and dialogue. This is undermining the political stability and democratic consolidation of the country, putting at risk the considerable progress made by Georgia in this respect over the years. The rapporteurs emphasised that democratic consolidation and Euro-Atlantic integration are the shared responsibility of all political forces in the country and therefore urged them, in particular the two largest parties, Georgian Dream and the United National Movement, to place the common good of the nation over any narrow party-political strategies.
The rapporteurs noted that the October 2021 local elections had, as they had feared, been a de facto plebiscite on the ruling majority, and had resulted in an increasingly harsh and contentious electoral environment. That said, they welcomed that, as a result of the consensual reform of the electoral code earlier this year, the legal framework for elections had considerably improved, which had benefited the organisation of the election process . At the same time they expressed their concern about the many reports of abuse of administrative resources and pressure on voters, as well as incidents of violence. They called upon the authorities to fully and transparently investigate, and where necessary address, all allegations and reports of electoral misconduct.
The establishment of a genuinely independent and impartial judiciary that has the full trust of Georgian citizens is an essential condition for the further democratic consolidation of the country. Recognising the progress made in this respect, the rapporteurs urged the authorities to conduct the comprehensive and independent evaluation of the third and fourth wave that was agreed upon in the Michel agreement. Such an comprehensive evaluation, which needs to be conducted independently to ensure public trust, should identify areas of success as well as remaining shortcomings and should guide future reforms. The rapporteurs felt that the Venice Commission should play an important role in such an independent evaluation. In this respect the rapporteurs deeply regretted that the parliament had continued to appoint new Supreme Court judges, despite the calls from the international community not to.. For the rapporteurs this also underscores the need for further reform of the High Council of Justice, whose functioning remains an obstacle for the establishment of a genuinely independent and trusted judiciary.
On the occasion of their visit the rapporteurs also focussed on developments with regard to minorities in Georgia. In this respect they welcomed that the Advisory Committee of the Council of Europe’s Framework Convention on National Minorities had noted the greatly improved legal framework for national minority and anti-discrimination issues. However, the rapporteurs underscored the need, expressed by the Advisory Committee to further strengthen the quality of education for minorities as well as minority language education, and urged the authorities to do this as a priority. With regard to LGBTI issues, the rapporteurs expressed their concern about the increasing public expressions of homophobia and intolerance towards the LGBTI community. In this context they condemned the violent attacks and counter demonstrations that had occurred during Gay Pride Week in July 2021. The rapporteurs urged the authorities to fully investigate these violent actions, and bring perpetrators to justice, including with regard to the organisers of these violent actions and those forces enticing them.
The rapporteurs will present their report on the honouring of obligations and commitments by Georgia to the Assembly in the first half of 2022.
of the PACE Communication Division