PACE's Rules Committee has proposed a set of clear and objective criteria enabling the privileges and immunities granted to Assembly members to “serve their institutional purpose, while preventing the possible misuse of privileges by parliamentarians for personal purposes”.
The 70-year-old system of parliamentary immunity – laid down in the founding texts of the Council of Europe and protocols – is designed to “preserve the integrity of the Assembly and ensure the independence of its members in the discharge of their office”. It covers words spoken and votes cast by members, as well as immunity from detention and prosecution in order to protect them from undue pressure.
The new guidelines, proposed in a report by Tiny Kox (Netherlands, UEL), are based on existing case-law in immunity cases and the internal practice of the Assembly. They define the scope of these immunities and lay down principles to clarify their application.