The Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Right promotes the rule of law and defends human rights. It is also responsible for a whole variety of activities that make it, de facto, the Assembly's legal adviser.
The Committee (AS/Jur) comprises 85 members and their alternates to which should be added the presidents of the 5 political groups as ex-officio members. It deals with a wide range of legal and human rights topics, appointing parliamentary rapporteurs mandated to prepare reports based on in situ research, hearings and exchanges of views with experts. This work culminates in resolutions and recommendations of the Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) addressed to member states and other Council of Europe bodies.
The Committee has three sub-committees: on human rights, on crime problems and the fight against terrorism, and on the implementation of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights.
The Committee and its relevant sub-committees participate in the election, by the Assembly, of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, as well as in the election, by the Committee of Ministers, of the members of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT).
When requested by the Committee of Ministers, the Assembly gives its opinion – usually based on a text prepared by AS/Jur – on draft conventions prior to their final adoption (as, for instance, on the draft Protocols Nos. 15 and 16 to the European Convention on Human Rights).
The Committee sends representatives to meetings of relevant Council of Europe bodies, including the European Commission for Democracy through Law (Venice Commission) and the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).
After playing a key role in the Organisation's enlargement after the fall of the Berlin Wall (through its opinions on new applications for Council membership, insisting on legal reforms and a moratorium on executions, followed by abolition of the death penalty), much of the Committee's more recent and ongoing work has focused on:
Reinforcing the system of human rights protection in Europe
Respect for human rights in the fight against terrorism
Combating impunity, eradicating judicial corruption and upholding the rule of law