Council of Europe’s PA urges BiH to step up efforts to meet its obligations

Council of Europe’s PA urges BiH to step up efforts to meet its obligations

STRASBOURG, January 28 (FENA) – The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted Resolution 2357 (2021), in which it asks Bosnia and Herzegovina to intensify its efforts to fulfill its obligations as a member of this organization, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe announced today.

Members of the Delegation of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiHPA) to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) participated, from January 25 to 28, in the first part of the regular annual session of the Parliamentary Assembly of this organization.

At the opening of the session, Rick Deams was re-elected President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for a one-year term, as well as 17 Vice-Presidents.

Elections were also held for the position of Secretary-General of the PACE to which, for the first time in history, where a female candidate Despina Chatzivassiliou-Tsovilis was elected for the first time.

Bjørn Berge was elected Deputy Secretary-General of the Council of Europe, while Ioannis Ktistakis from Greece and Andreas Zünd from Switzerland were elected judges of the European Court of Human Rights.

Based on the Progress Report on the Monitoring Procedure in 2020, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted Resolution 2357 (2021), in which it asks Bosnia and Herzegovina to step up its efforts to meet its obligations as a member of the Council of Europe.

By adopting Resolution 2360 (2021), the PACE amended the Rules of Procedure to allow, with the CoE Committee of Ministers, the implementation of a complementary common procedure in response to any serious breach of status by a Member State.

The discussion on this issue of the Covid pandemic was attended by the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who pointed out that 75 percent of the vaccine doses delivered so far have been distributed to only ten countries, thus endangering the poorest and most vulnerable categories of the population. Ghebreyesus warned that such an approach would prolong the duration of the pandemic.

Increased polarisation and challenges to Europe’s fundamental principles, together with the global COVID-19 pandemic, are likely to create the most difficult period we have seen in many years, according to the President of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Speaking at the court’s annual press conference in Strasbourg, ECHR President Robert Spano said that democracy, the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law are increasingly being called into question at both the European and global levels.

He added that the on-going pandemic has already raised a number of important human rights issues, including the proportionality of measures taken by Council of Europe member states, the legal basis of those measures and the use of domestic procedures to sanction actions or inaction.

President Spano underlined that the ECHR has been able to continue its work despite the pandemic, deciding on over 39,190 applications in 2020 and holding online public hearings for the first time.

Nevertheless, there were approximately 62,000 applications pending before the ECHR at the end of 2020. 70% of those applications related to just four Council of Europe member states – Russia (13,650), Turkey (11,750), Ukraine (10,400) and Romania (7,550).

President Spano highlighted the success of changes to the ECHR’s working methods in reducing the backlog of pending cases and said that the Court’s priority policy would be further strengthened to help reduce timescales.

The President also stressed the binding and unequivocal obligation of each Council of Europe member state to implement ECHR judgments, which he said was fundamental to the system and “crystal clear” from a legal point of view.

As part of the discussion on current issues, PACE members discussed two topics: “The arrest and detention of Alexei Navalny in January 2021” and “Freedom of expression (Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights) under the threat of big-tech companies“.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe did not accept the proposal to revoke the credentials of the delegation of the Russian Federation.