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Tiny Kox: "17 September 2022 is a sad day for Europe"

Statement by PACE President Tiny Kox:

"Today, 17 September 2022, is a sad day for Europe. As of today, more than 140 million Russian citizens will be deprived of their right to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

This is a direct and inevitable consequence of the ending of the Russian Federation’s membership in the Council of Europe, which was decided on 16 March 2022, a few days after it launched its war of aggression against its neighbour Ukraine.

As I have already said on many occasions, the political leadership of the Russian Federation bears full responsibility for this. But the consequences will unfortunately be felt by ordinary Russian citizens, many of whom do not support President Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine.

The European Convention on Human Rights guarantees, among other things, the right to life (Article 2), the right to freedom of conscience and religion (Article 9), the right to free expression (Article 10), the right of assembly (Article 11) and the right to education (Article 2 of Protocol 1). It protects every citizen of a Contracting Party from torture (Article 3) and from slavery and forced labour (Article 4).

It is the embodiment of all our fundamental human rights, and has shaped the very DNA of our European identity.

Thanks to its membership of the Council of Europe, and its participation in this pan-European legal space, Russia was able to improve its legal system. In the 26 years of its membership of the Council of Europe, several thousand judgments were delivered. Many of them brought not only redress to Russian citizens, but also resulted in structural changes to Russian law.

I hope that one day, Russian citizens will again fall under the protective umbrella of the European Convention on Human Rights, but as of today, they will be outside its unique system of protection, and that of the Strasbourg Court.

It is the Russian President, Government and Parliament which must bear the full and sole responsibility for the grave act of removing this fundamental protection, which once belonged to all Russian citizens.

The Parliamentary Assembly has taken upon itself the obligation to find ways to support those who strive to restore respect for the rule of law, human rights and democracy in Russia."