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Restricting rights to protect national security – how far can States go?

Motion for a resolution | Doc. 14044 | 26 April 2016

Mr Boriss CILEVIČS, Latvia, SOC ; Mr Francesco Maria AMORUSO, Italy, ALDE ; Lord Donald ANDERSON, United Kingdom, SOC ; Ms Ingrid ANTIČEVIĆ MARINOVIĆ, Croatia, SOC ; Ms Eka BESELIA, Georgia, SOC ; Ms Gülsün BİLGEHAN, Turkey, SOC ; Ms Sílvia Eloïsa BONET, Andorra, SOC ; Ms Dawn BUTLER, United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr José CEPEDA, Spain, SOC ; Ms Lise CHRISTOFFERSEN, Norway, SOC ; Mr Paolo CORSINI, Italy, SOC ; Mr Namik DOKLE, Albania, SOC ; Lord George FOULKES, United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr Pierre-Alain FRIDEZ, Switzerland, SOC ; Ms Adele GAMBARO, Italy, ALDE ; Mr Antonio GUTIÉRREZ, Spain, SOC ; Ms Eva-Lena JANSSON, Sweden, SOC ; Mr Tedo JAPARIDZE, Georgia, SOC ; Mr Mogens JENSEN, Denmark, SOC ; Ms Manana KOBAKHIDZE, Georgia, SOC ; Mr Pierre-Yves LE BORGN', France, SOC ; Ms Valentina LESKAJ, Albania, SOC ; Mr Dirk Van der MAELEN, Belgium, SOC ; Mr Saša MAGAZINOVIĆ, Bosnia and Herzegovina, SOC ; Baroness Doreen MASSEY, United Kingdom, SOC ; Ms Liliane MAURY PASQUIER, Switzerland, SOC ; Sir Alan MEALE, United Kingdom, SOC ; Ms Marianne MIKKO, Estonia, SOC ; Mr Andrei NEGUTA, Republic of Moldova, SOC ; Mr Nicos NICOLAIDES, Cyprus, SOC ; Mr John PRESCOTT, United Kingdom, SOC ; Ms Soraya RODRÍGUEZ RAMOS, Spain, SOC ; Mr Armen RUSTAMYAN, Armenia, SOC ; Mr Stefan SCHENNACH, Austria, SOC ; Ms Paula SHERRIFF, United Kingdom, SOC ; Mr Jan ŠKOBERNE, Slovenia, SOC ; Ms Petra De SUTTER, Belgium, SOC ; Mr Manuel TORNARE, Switzerland, SOC ; Mr Petrit VASILI, Albania, SOC ; Ms Birutė VĖSAITĖ, Lithuania, SOC ; Ms Gisela WURM, Austria, SOC

Restrictions on certain fundamental rights and freedoms, such as freedom of expression or freedom of assembly, are envisaged by the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Under certain conditions, such restrictions can be legitimate.

To fight against terrorism, several Council of Europe member States resort to exceptional measures. By enacting the state of emergency, or amending existing legislation - in the interest of national security and public safety - they narrow the scope of a number of fundamental freedoms. These restrictions can be problematic and have been considered in reports by the Parliamentary Assembly (on Secret detentions and illegal transfers of detainees involving Council of Europe member States, on Human rights and the fight against terrorism, etc.).The Assembly has repeatedly stated that terrorism can and must be combated effectively by means that fully respect human rights and the rule of law.

Now attempts to limit fundamental freedoms are made under the pretext of the "hybrid war" - a concept that is not legally defined. In this context, some member States are in the process of criminalising not only actions but also the expression of certain opinions as crimes against the State.

Defending the constitutional order and national security are clearly legitimate aims, but they must be pursued with means that remain within the limits set by the ECHR, as interpreted by the European Court of Human Rights. The Assembly shall examine these issues in light of the Council of Europe’s acquis to analyse if these restrictions can be justified and if yes, under what conditions; including by making use of the expertise of the Venice Commission.