GR-J(2001)1 Synopsis of 19 March Meeting


Ministers' Deputies
Rapporteur Groups

GR-J(2001)CB1 (restricted) 24 April 2001
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GR-J Rapporteur Group on Legal Co-operation

Synopsis

(Meeting of 19 March 2001)

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The Rapporteur Group on Legal Co-operation met on 19 March 2001 with Ambassador Jiří MUCHA, Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic, in the Chair.  The Group approved the agenda as set out in the notice convening the meeting (GR-J(2001)OJ1).

 

The Group congratulated Ambassador Jiří MUCHA on his recent appointment as Chair of the GR-J.

  

Item 1             Oral presentation by the Director General of Legal Affairs of the action taken by the Directorate General of Legal Affairs – DGI in the year 2000 and the results achieved

 

The Director General presented the action taken by the Directorate General of Legal Affairs in the year 2000 and the results achieved.  The full version of the Director General's statement will be reproduced in an addendum to this synopsis.

 

Many delegations took the floor to congratulate the Director General on the results achieved by his Directorate in the year 2000 and draw attention to the Directorate's extremely helpful co-operation in providing expert assistance with the drafting of internal legal texts.  Some of them were concerned about the risk of involving the Organisation in major political issues to the detriment of intergovernmental co-operation programmes.

 

One delegation suggested that DGI should regularly publish an information document on completed and current projects so that the delegations were better able to form an overall assessment of the work achieved or under way.  The proposal was endorsed by several delegations.  The Director General replied that he would consider ways of acting on the proposal.

 

Questions were asked on the European Union's financial assistance with certain programmes, on DGI's share of the cost in relation to the other directorates general, and on DGI's contribution to the “acquis communautaire” (the Community corpus of rules).  On this last point, the Director General mentioned a document on the subject prepared by DGI (DIR/JUR(2000)5).

 

Item 2             Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1426(1999): European democracies facing up to terrorism

 

The following amendments to the draft reply (GR-J(2001)1) and to the amendments suggested by the delegation from the Russian Federation (GR-J(2001)5) were proposed.

 

First amendment, to paragraph 2 of the draft reply (second sentence)

 

Firstly, several delegations suggested replacing “acts of terrorism” by “terrorism”.  The delegation from the Russian Federation agreed.  Secondly, one delegation proposed replacing “irrespective of motive, wherever and by whomever committed” by “irrespective of motive and by whomever committed, in particular those that might undermine peace and international security”, on the basis of the wording of Security Council Resolution 1269 of 19 October 1999.  These two proposals would appear as alternatives in the revised draft reply.

 

The original proposal was endorsed by some delegations and considered pointless by one delegation.  The alternative proposal was considered too restrictive by other delegations.

 

Second amendment, to paragraph 3 of the draft reply, after the second sentence

 

The Chair proposed that this amendment should read as follows: “In the context of such co-operation the Committee of Ministers wishes that all appropriate steps be taken to deny terrorists safe haven”.  This minor change was accepted by the delegation from the Russian Federation and several other delegations.

 

A number of delegations endorsed this second amendment.  One delegation had misgivings about it.

 

One delegation suggested inserting the amendment after the first sentence rather than the second sentence of paragraph 3.

 

Third amendment, to paragraph 3 of the draft reply (addition of a final sentence)

 

One delegation said it could not accept the reference in this amendment to preparatory acts because of a feature of its domestic law, whereby preparations did not in themselves constitute an offence.  It therefore suggested deleting this reference.  This view was endorsed by another delegation.

 

One delegation questioned the point of the amendment on the grounds that it had been taken from the CDPC's opinion, which was appended to the draft reply, and suggested either that it be deleted or that the wording of the CDPC's opinion be used in its entirety.  A sentence using the complete wording appearing in the CDPC opinion would be included as an alternative proposal.

 

Some delegations had reservations about the amendment on the grounds that the issues raised were more the responsibility of the United Nations.

 

One delegation supported the amendment, stressing the importance of sending out a political signal on the subject.

 

Proposals for additional amendments

 

One delegation suggested that the draft reply refer to the Council of Europe's European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism.  Another delegation endorsed this proposal and suggested that those States which had not already done so be urged to sign and ratify the Convention.  Insertions would be made to this effect in paragraph 3 of the revised draft reply.

 

Several delegations had doubts about paragraph 7 of the draft reply on the grounds that it mixed up a uniform interpretation of Council of Europe conventions (Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1458(2000)) with the establishment of an international criminal court.  It was suggested that the paragraph be reworded more concisely with no explicit reference to these two ideas.

 

One delegation suggested inserting a footnote to paragraph 4 of the CDPC's opinion providing information of the system of reservations to the European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism as it applied to member States of the European Union.  The same delegation suggested inserting a footnote stating that the International Criminal Court did not have jurisdiction to deal with terrorist crimes.

 

The Chair of the Group suggested resuming consideration of the Recommendation on the basis of a revised draft reply incorporating all the proposed changes and alternative proposals (see document GR-J(2001)1 revised).

 

Item 3             Parliamentary Assembly Recommendation 1427: Respect for international humanitarian law in Europe

 

The following amendments to the draft reply (GR-J(2001)2) were proposed.

 

- Paragraph 1:  One delegation suggested inserting a sentence on the possibility of setting up appropriate bodies to punish the perpetrators of such acts, on an ad hoc basis.  The proposal was endorsed by another delegation.  One delegation suggested including a reference to the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Statute of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

 

- Paragraph 7:  One delegation said that it was not worth quoting all the legal instruments mentioned in this paragraph.  The Secretariat suggests adding the following sentence at the end of the paragraph: “However, the European Convention on the non-applicability of statutory limitation to crimes against humanity and war crimes (item b), although opened for signature from1974, has never entered into force.”

 

- Paragraph 9:  A delegation suggested deleting the reference to sovereignty.  Another delegation suggested a different wording for this paragraph, which no longer contained a reference to sovereignty.

 

- Paragraph 10:  Questions concerning the obligations described in this paragraph and their sources were raised.  It was agreed that the Secretariat would draft this paragraph more concisely and accurately to take account of these comments.

 

- Paragraph 11:  One delegation suggested rewording the paragraph to give greater weight to the importance of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

 

- Paragraph 12:  A delegation suggested rewording this paragraph to give it greater weight.

 

The Group agreed to resume consideration of the Recommendation on the basis of a revised draft reply including all these proposed changes (see document GR-J(2001)2 revised).

 

Item 4             Recommendation 67(1999) of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe on the 5th Conference on Mediterranean and Black Sea Basins       

“The opening to non-member Mediterranean states of Council of Europe treaties relating to the environment, to transfrontier co-operation or to local self-government” (GR-J(2001)3)

 

The Chair of the Group drew attention to the specific instructions given to the GR-J in this respect, with reference to the decision taken by the Deputies at their 678th meeting (8 and 9 September 1999, item 12.1), namely: “to consider the feasibility of opening Council of Europe Conventions in the field of environment, transfrontier co-operation or local self-government to Mediterranean countries, not members of the Council of Europe, which have clearly expressed their desire to sign and ratify them”.

 

The Group agreed that the GR-J's task was clear and that the questions raised were dealt with in the Secretariat's document (GR-J(2001)3), which gave an overview of provisions concerning the possibility of accession by non-member Mediterranean countries and possible means of opening some of these treaties.  The document also indicated whether or not these States had expressed interest.

 

The Group therefore agreed to forward the synopsis of the current meeting and the Secretariat's document to the Rapporteur on co-operation in the Mediterranean basin so that he could continue examining the other aspects of the recommendation and draft a reply.

 

Item 5             Request by Monaco to be invited to accede to the Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime (ETS No.141) (GR-J(2001)4)

 

One delegation had reservations about the compatibility of Monaco's domestic law with this Convention and said that Monaco should provide guarantees concerning the way in which it would comply with the convention before acceding to it.


A delegation said that, although it agreed, the Convention was important for Monaco.  It suggested leaving the question of guarantees and Monaco's ability to comply aside and considering the political aspect of the request.  This approach was endorsed by several delegations.

 

Two delegations said they were in favour of Monaco's accession.

 

A question was asked as to what the Secretariat's practice was in such a situation.  The Secretariat said that in such cases, the CDPC questionnaire prepared for the Convention had been sent to the State concerned.  This solution was endorsed by several delegations.

 

The Group therefore agreed to resume consideration of the matter in the light of Monaco's replies to the CDPC questionnaire.



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