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PACE, worried about threats to the rule of law, points to recent developments in five states

PACE has pointed to “serious problems” with the rule of law in many Council of Europe member states – singling out five countries where it says some recent developments have “put at risk” respect for the rule of law.

Based on a report by Bernd Fabritius (Germany, EPP/CD), the Assembly said that it had thoroughly examined the situation in Bulgaria, the Republic of Moldova, Poland, Romania and Turkey.

It pointed to problems in particular with “independence of the judiciary and the principle of the separation of powers” in these countries, mainly due to attempts to politicise judicial councils and courts, dismiss judges and prosecutors (or try to) and limit the legislative power of parliaments, as well as the effects of corruption. The Assembly addressed a series of recommendations to each.

In a separate resolution, based on a report by Philippe Mahoux (Belgium, SOC), the Assembly endorsed a “Rule of Law Checklist” drawn up by the Council of Europe’s body of independent legal experts, the Venice Commission.

The checklist – which identifies six core elements to the rule of law – is intended as a “new, uniform benchmark for measuring compliance with one of the founding principles of the Council of Europe”, the Assembly said.

It should enable respect for the rule of law to be measured in a “detailed, objective, transparent and fair manner”.