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PACE affirms its members’ rights ‘to vote, to speak and to be represented in the Assembly and its bodies’

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has decided that its members’ “rights to vote, to speak and to be represented in the Assembly and its bodies shall not be suspended or withdrawn in the context of a challenge to or reconsideration of credentials”.

In a resolution based on a report by Petra de Sutter (Belgium, SOC), the Assembly said this clarification of its Rules was to “ensure that member States’ right and obligation to be represented and to participate in both statutory bodies of the Council of Europe is respected”.

Citing the “exceptional context” of a recent decision by the Committee of Ministers, the Assembly also decided, in a derogation from its Rules of Procedure, to invite the parliaments of Council of Europe member States “which are not represented by a delegation to the Assembly” to present their credentials at the June 2019 part-session. Normally, credentials can only be presented at the opening of the ordinary session in January.

Finally, the Assembly welcomed the Committee of Ministers’ support for its recent proposal to set up a “joint reaction procedure” when a member State violates its statutory obligations or does not respect the basic principles and values upheld by the Council of Europe – and said it was firmly committed to “making this proposal operational as soon as possible”.

Under the proposal, such a procedure could be triggered by the Assembly, the Committee of Ministers or the Secretary General, and all three would be involved in a step-by-step process which could ultimately lead to a state’s suspension.