Ministers' Deputies / Rapporteur Groups
Rapporteur Group on Legal Co-operation
GR-J(2009)CB4 16 June 20091
Meeting of 9 June 2009
The Rapporteur Group on Legal Co-operation (GR-J) met on 9 June 2009 with Ambassador Emil Kuchar, Permanent Representative of the Slovak Republic, in the chair. The agenda (GR-J(2009)OJ4rev2) was adopted.
18/09 Fight against terrorism
a. Exchange of views with the Council of Europe Anti-Terrorism Co-ordinator
1. The Group took part in an exchange of views with the Council of Europe Anti-terrorism Co-ordinator on the action taken by the Council of Europe between June 2008 and June 2009 in the fight against terrorism. The text of the statement by the Anti-Terrorist Co-ordinator is appended to this document.
b. Committee of experts on terrorism (CODEXTER): Abridged report of the 16th meeting (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain, 15-16 April 2009)
2. The Group examined the abridged report of the 16th meeting of the Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER), as set out in document CM(2009)87, and decided to forward it to the Deputies for adoption of the relevant decision at their 1062nd meeting (1 July 2009), without further debate.
c. First Consultation of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (CETS No. 196) (Madrid, 12 May 2009) - Abridged report
3. The Group examined the abridged report of the first Consultation of the Parties to the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (CETS No. 196), which had taken place in Madrid on 12 May 2009, and decided to forward it to the Deputies for adoption of the relevant decisions at their 1062nd meeting (1 July 2009), without further debate.
d. CoE-OAS/CICTE Conference on Terrorism and Cyber Security (San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Spain, 16-17 April 2009) – Conclusions
4. The Group examined the Conclusions of the CoE-OAS/CICTE Conference on Terrorism and Cyber Security held in San Lorenzo de El Escorial (Spain) on 16 and 17 April 2009 and decided to forward them to the Deputies for adoption of the relevant decisions at their 1062nd meeting (1 July 2009), without further debate.
13/09 European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages - First report of the Committee of Experts in respect of Ukraine
CM(2009)43, DD(2009)208, DD(2009)211, [DD(2009) (to be issued)]
5. The Chair informed the Group of the developments in the informal consultation which he had initiated with the delegations concerned. No agreement had yet been reached on the draft text. He proposed continuing the negotiations and resuming discussions on this item at the next meeting of the Group. This proposal was backed by the participants.
12/09 Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE) - Opinion No. 3 on "The role of the public prosecution services outside the criminal field"
CM(2009)24, GR-J(2009)CB3, DD(2009)209rev, DD(2009)321
6. The Group continued its examination of Opinion No. 3, and the CDPC's comments on it, and decided to transmit the Opinion and the comments to the Deputies for adoption of the relevant decisions at their 1061st meeting on 17 June 2009.
One delegation reserves the right to make a statement on this item at the 1061st meeting of the Deputies.
03/09 Evaluation of the implementation of Recommendation CM/Rec(2007)14 on the legal status of non-governmental organisations in Europe
GR-J(2008)10, CONF/PLE(2009)REC1**, OING Conf/Exp (2009)1*, GR-J(2009)CB2, CDCJ-BU(2009)5
7. The Group examined the procedure proposed by the Bureau of the European Committee on Legal Co-operation (CDCJ) with a view to resuming consideration of this matter in 2010, in the light of the ongoing work of the CDCJ, and decided to transmit the draft decision to the Deputies for adoption at their 1061st meeting (17 June 2009), without further debate.
16/09 Ad hoc Committee on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CAHVIO) - Interim report
GR-J(2009)5, CM(2009)84 Interim report (to be issued after 27 May 2009)
8. The Group examined the interim report (CM(2009)84), as adopted by the CAHVIO at its two meetings (6-8 April and 25-27 May 2009) and decided to forward it to the Deputies for adoption of the relevant decisions at their 1062nd meeting (1 July 2009).
9. The Group also considered the possibility of placing the interim report of the CAHVIO at the disposal of the participants at the 29th Council of Europe Conference of Ministers of Justice, to be held in Tromsø (Norway) on 18 and 19 June 2009, and decided to forward the draft decision to the Deputies for adoption at their 1060th meeting (10 June 2009).
17/09 Conference on the protection of children in European justice systems organised by the Council of Europe in co-operation with the Ministry of Justice of the Kingdom of Spain (Toledo, 12-13 March 2009)
10. The Group examined the Conclusions of the Conference on the protection of children in European justice systems held in Toledo, Spain, on 12 and 13 March 2009, and decided to forward the draft decision as amended (see appendix to Notes on the Agenda CM/Notes/1061/10.1) to the Deputies for adoption at their 1061st meeting (17 June 2009), without further debate.
Date of the next meeting
9 September 2009.
First exchange of views between the GR-J and the Council of Europe Anti-Terrorism Co-ordinator
Strasbourg, 9 June 2009
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to describe the activities of the Council of Europe anti-terrorism co-ordinator and of the counter-terrorism task force.
The function of Council of Europe anti-terrorism co-ordinator was established by the Secretary General in January 2006 and I have held the post since November 2008.
The co-ordinator’s task is to co-ordinate the anti-terrorism activities within the Secretariat, to which end I am responsible for liaising between the Committee of Ministers and other Council of Europe bodies and for maintaining relations in this area with other international organisations.
With regard to the activities of the various Council of Europe bodies, I must underline that my predecessors, Mr Guy de Vel and Mr Raphaël Benitez, both performed the task very efficiently and did much work in this area. The activity is now at a turning point: the legal standards have been successfully drawn up and we must now focus efficiently and pragmatically on implementing them effectively.
As far as our relations with other international organisations are concerned, I believe it is vital that we place special emphasis on them with a view to ensuring efficiency and enabling us to pool our efforts in this area. The Council of Europe’s voice must be heard clearly by these organisations, which are our key partners here.
My main partners are the anti-terrorism co-ordinators of the European Union (Mr Gilles de Kerchove) and the OSCE (Mr Rafael Perl). We also have very good relations with the various UN bodies, in particular, the Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED). Its Executive Director, Ambassador Mike Smith, honoured us with a visit to the Council of Europe in November and, more recently, took part in the El Escorial conference.
I. The importance of the anti-terrorist issue
– Overview of the Council’s general activities
The terrorist threat is very real today. It is clearly endangering our democracies and the fundamental rights of Europe’s population. It is also a real challenge to the rule of law, as it demands appropriate mechanisms for prosecution and sentencing and for victim support.
The Council of Europe now has a first-rate series of legal instruments in this area. I regard them as a body of law for which the involvement of the member states is vital.
In this connection, I would refer first of all to the specific anti-terrorism conventions (the 1977 Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism, the 2005 Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism and the 2005 Convention on Laundering, Search, Seizure and Confiscation of the Proceeds from Crime and on the Financing of Terrorism).
I would also refer to the Council conventions which are not specifically aimed at terrorism, but which are entirely relevant for combating the threat: the 2001 Convention on Cybercrime and the conventions designed to facilitate mutual assistance in criminal matters.
These European instruments now fit into a more global context and are reflected in and support the UN Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, which the Council has undertaken to implement at European level.
In April 2007, the Council drew up a roadmap validated by the Committee of Ministers, which indicates the particular Council entities that are responsible for acting on each point in the UN strategy.
Through its experience and know-how, the Council of Europe is fully involved in the UN’s work and in implementing its strategy. It is keeping a close eye on the proposals to revise the Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy, especially since Europe is often at the forefront of the measures taken internationally to combat terrorism. European states must bear in mind that, in this area in particular, they form a key pool of ideas within the UN.
II. Recent activities
– New synergies and prospects for innovation
In recent months, we have prepared the ground for increased co-operation with other regional organisations. At European level, we have successfully sought to expand our technical co-operation activities with the OSCE, the EU and the UNODC.
Relations with the European Union have also focused on the alignment of the EU Framework Decision on combating terrorism with the Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism. The EU seized the opportunity to call for the ratification of the relevant Council of Europe conventions here. The legal standards of the EU and the Council of Europe are now fully in tune with one another.
More generally, I believe that we must continue to present our standards and norms and promote our main instruments wherever there is an interest in texts based on principles of the rule of law and the defence of human rights. In this connection, carrying forward and stepping up our contacts with regional organisations is of particular benefit to our organisation.
Beyond our natural geographic boundaries, we have built a strong partnership with the Organisation of American States. The Spanish chairmanship was particularly helpful in this respect, the highlight being the Conference on Terrorism and Cyber Security held jointly on 16 and 17 April 2009 (El Escorial), the conclusions of which are on your agenda.
We also hope to extend our co-operation with ASEAN in the coming months. Some African states also seem interested in our instruments. In addition to the possible accession to some of our conventions by states whose accession the Committee of Ministers could accept, I believe we should make our texts available to all those interested to have them as models for their the anti-terrorism legislative process.
As regards our own activities, the Spanish chairmanship opened up new prospects.
The last six months saw the holding in Madrid on 12 May of the First Consultation of the States Parties to the Convention on the Prevention of Terrorism (20 ratifications to date). The abridged report on the consultation is also on your agenda.
The Parties to the Convention made an initial assessment of its implementation and considered the best means of following up the implementation of the text, which is unique to date. In this connection, they agreed to assign the task of following up the implementation of the convention between the meetings of the Consultation of the Parties to the Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER), of which I am secretary.
The CODEXTER, which prepared the draft version of the convention, clearly has all the necessary know-how for ensuring the full implementation of the instrument. I would therefore ask for your kind support in terms of approval of the decision by the first consultation.
At the same time, the ratification of the convention and the increase in the number of States Parties are certainly encouraging signs. However, what matters now is to implement the convention’s provisions in full. It must be made truly operational. In my view, however, simply transposing provisions of the convention into national legislation is not enough here. The main players responsible for implementing it must be provided with the necessary know-how. It is important to help the various relevant national authorities so as to ensure close co-ordination between their respective departments. Closer cross-border co-operation is also particularly important with regard to the prevention of terrorism, especially in those member states which fortunately have not been seriously affected by terrorist acts and whose experience of combating terrorism is more limited.
We have not yet conducted activities of this kind, except on an occasional basis. Yet I believe that our counter-terrorism task force should establish programmes of technical co-operation and assistance activities. We are more than willing to develop activities in this area, at the request of and with the support of our member states.
In conclusion, I should like to raise an issue of shared responsibility. In my view, it is important to expand and co-ordinate the activities aimed at the causes of terrorism. We have a duty to look more closely at the means of reducing the tensions in contemporary society which are stoked by radicalisation and the spread of terrorist propaganda on the Internet, in particular by being innovative in the area of intercultural and interfaith dialogue. In this context, radicalisation in places of detention is a point of particular concern.
We are aware that there is a threat of Islamist radicalisation in prisons, mainly because of the lack of qualified imams in places of detention. Moreover, the prisoners at risk are getting younger and younger and are increasingly poorly educated. I therefore believe that we could give consideration to education programmes in prisons, including teaching about religion, along the lines of our ideas for schools. Perhaps the European centre Wergeland in Norway, inaugurated on last May 29, might be interested in these ideas.
1 This document has been classified restricted at the date of issue. Unless the Committee of Ministers decides otherwise, it will be declassified according to the rules set out in Resolution Res(2001)6 on access to Council of Europe documents.
* These document are available at the following addresses: http://www.coe.int/t/e/ngo/public/CONF_PLE_2009_REC1_expert_council_en.asp#TopOfPage