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State of human rights in Europe: the need to eradicate impunity

Recommendation 1876 (2009)

Parliamentary Assembly
Assembly debate on 24 June 2009 (22nd Sitting) (see Doc. 11934, report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, rapporteur: Mrs Däubler-Gmelin; and Doc. 11964, opinion of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, rapporteur: Mrs Čurdová). Text adopted by the Assembly on 24 June 2009 (22nd Sitting).
1. The Parliamentary Assembly, referring to its Resolution 1675 (2009) on the state of human rights in Europe: the need to eradicate impunity, considers the eradication of impunity for perpetrators, instigators and organisers of serious human rights violations as a priority for Council of Europe action, as a matter of individual justice, deterrence and upholding the rule of law.
2. The Assembly therefore welcomes the follow-up already given by the Committee of Ministers to its Recommendation 1791 (2007) on the state of human rights and democracy in Europe and invites the Committee of Ministers to speed up and intensify its work on elaborating Council of Europe guidelines on human rights and the fight against impunity. These guidelines should:
2.1 draw from the case law of the European Court of Human Rights, from the work of the Committee of Ministers on execution of judgments, the pertinent resolutions and recommendations of the Assembly and the work of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, as well as from the work of the United Nations and relevant non-governmental organisations on this subject;
2.2 stress that state secrecy and immunities do not prevent effective, independent and impartial investigations into serious human rights violations – including in relation to the secret detentions and unlawful interstate transfers of individuals that have taken place in and throughout Europe – and that those responsible should be held to account;
2.3 clearly state that immunity of international actors for serious human rights violations, in particular violations of non-derogable rights such as the right to life, is unacceptable;
2.4 specify which measures shall be taken and remedies made available at national and international levels to tackle all forms of impunity.
3. The Assembly calls on the Committee of Ministers to instruct the Ad hoc Committee on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (CAHVIO) to ensure that the future Council of Europe convention effectively combats impunity for the authors of gender-based violence by including the severest and most widespread forms of violence against women, including domestic violence and so-called “honour crimes”.
4. As regards the role of the Committee of Ministers in supervising the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights, the Assembly:
4.1 welcomes the stand taken by the Committee of Ministers in determining that there exists a continuing obligation to conduct effective investigations in so far as procedural violations of Articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ETS No. 5) are concerned;
4.2 encourages the Committee of Ministers to explore the possibility for states to re-open domestic legal proceedings subsequent to a ruling of the European Court of Human Rights finding the domestic investigations or proceedings fundamentally flawed, to prevent criminals from being granted impunity by virtue of the ne bis in idem rule.
5. The Assembly invites the Committee of Ministers to examine the advisability of establishing an independent European committee to investigate serious allegations of gross and systematic violations of human rights.