Non-Governmental Organisations

SUMMER SESSION

HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE
CONF/HR(2009)SYN3

Strasbourg, 25 August 2009

SYNOPSIS
OF THE MEETING ON 22 JUNE 2009

FOR THE ATTENTION OF MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COMMITTEE

The Human Rights Committee, meeting in Strasbourg on 22 June 2009 with Gabriel Nissim (SIGNIS) in the chair:

1. Welcome

    welcomed Rita Patricio, Adviser, Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights, who would address the Committee under item 4 of the agenda.

2. adopted the agenda of the meeting [CONF/HR(2009)OJ3]

3. adopted the synopsis of the meeting held on 28 April 2009 [CONF/HR(2009)SYN2]

4. The situation of human rights defenders in a number of European countries: presentation of the recent activities of the “Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders” (FIDH/OMCT) and other activities (Rita Patricio, Adviser, Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights)

    The Chair said the Committee had helped draft the Resolution in favour of human rights defenders and the special terms of reference given to the Commissioner for Human Rights with regard to the situation of human rights defenders.

    Hugo Gabbero, from the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, informed the Committee:
    - of the difficulties encountered by groups and individuals working to defend human rights, who were targeted by the authorities (subjected to harassment, arbitrary detention,…);
    - that urgent appeals had been made to the authorities and that a report on the situation of human rights defenders should be published shortly;
    - that the defenders’ Internet site had been the subject of violent attacks in Lithuania and Latvia;
    - that in Turkey a defender’s prison sentence had been confirmed;
    - that the impunity granted to the perpetrators of human rights violations was particularly worrying.

    Rita Patricio stressed the importance of exchanges between INGOs and the Commissioner for Human Rights; such co-operation was decisive for the Commissioner on his visits. Ms Patricio said that reports were addressed to member states supporting the action taken by human rights defenders. She informed the Committee that a round table would be held in Kyiv on 17 and 18 September 2009. The purpose of the meeting would be to support human fights defenders’ activities and strengthen their networks in the context of national and regional mechanisms.

    The NGOs had firmly expressed their support for the work carried out by the defenders and undertook to make representations to elected representatives and governments, asking them to take steps to uphold fundamental freedoms.

    The Chair referred to Resolution 1660 (2009) on ‘The situation of human rights defenders in Council of Europe member states’, which was adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 28 April 2009.

    Given the urgency of the situation, particularly in Lithuania, the Committee:

    - adopted Resolution CONF/HR(2009)RES1 calling on the President of Lithuania not to sign the Law on the Protection of Minors against the Detrimental Effect of Public Information” because of its homophobic content;

    - decided to address Resolution CONF/HR(2009)RES1 to the President of Lithuania, Valdas Adamkus, and to the Permanent Representative of Lithuania to the Council of Europe, Ambassador Gediminas Šerkšnys, proposing that the aforementioned law should not be ratified.

    In conclusion, Rita Patricio said that the INGOs’ Resolution would be forwarded to the Commissioner for Human Rights and that she welcomed the close, complementary co-operation with the Conference of INGOs.

5. Social Charter, economic and social rights - Information on the activities of the working group and preparations for the meeting in September 2009 (Marie-José Schmitt, European Action of the Disabled, Head of the Working Group on the Social Charter)

    Marie-Josée Schmitt, Head of the Working Group on the Social Charter, pointed out that, in the context of the monitoring of the Social Charter, states’ reports were examined by a committee of independent experts which forwarded its conclusions to the European Committee of Social Rights. On 25 May 2009 she and the Chair had attended a meeting of the Committee of Social Rights at which many topics had been discussed and a great deal of information exchanged. This issue would be placed on the agenda of the session in September 2009, which would be attended by Régis Brillat, Executive Secretary of the European Committee of Social Rights

    Ms Schmitt drew the INGOs’ attention to Article 30 of the Social Charter “Right to protection against poverty and social exclusion”, to which particular attention would be paid in the context of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, launched by the European Union.

6. Other information

      · Echoes of the meeting of the Fundamental Rights Agency Platform of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in Vienna on 5 and 6 May 2009 (Sophie Dimitroulias, AFEM, Association of Women of Southern Europe)

      Sophie Dimitroulias and Taras Poljanec (AEH, European Action of the Disabled) had represented the Conference of INGOs in Vienna on 5 and 6 May 2009 at the meeting of the Fundamental Rights Agency Platform. Sophie Dimitroulias said that the Fundamental Rights Agency had been set up on 15 February 2007 as a European Union body and that closer co-operation would doubtlessly be established between it and the Conference of INGOs. A consultation would shortly be held to identify the working priorities and that all of the Committee chairs would make proposals or a contribution. Gabriel Nissim said that he and Jean-Marie Heydt had met Philippe Boillat, Director General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs to discuss the Fundamental Rights Agency.

      · Report on the Ministerial Conference on the Media and New Communication Services held in Reykjavik on 28 and 29 May 2009 and on the NGO forum (Gabriel Nissim, SIGNIS, Representative of the Conference of INGOs to the Steering Committee on the Medias and New Communication Services – CDMC)

      The Chair, Gabriel Nissim, and numerous NGOs had taken the floor at Ministerial Conference on the Media and New Communication Services. He took special note of an initiative entitled “Media Literacy”, which would be discussed during the September part session.

      · World Appeal for Childhood on the of the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (Alessandra Aula, ICCB, International Catholic Child Bureau)

      Alessandra Aula invited the INGOs to support the Appeal, which was the outcome of two years’ work. The signatories of the Appeal thought that, although the Convention had made it possible to make undeniable progress over the past 20 years, there were still worrying setbacks and very serious violations of children’s rights in many parts of the world. Signing the Appeal would help to foster a culture of respect for children to ensure the full development of each and every child. By disseminating the Appeal, the signatories underlined their commitment to safeguarding the dignity and the rights of children wherever they were being eroded.

The Committee:

    - will propose to the Conference of INGOs, at the September session, that it adopt the ICCB Appeal. Brigitte Kahn, head of the working group on children, would address the theme of child labour.

This is an unadopted draft document.

Under no circumstances shall it be considered binding on the persons referred to therein.

    Cc : President of the Conference of INGOs
    Members of the Standing Committee
    Secretary General of the Parliamentary Assembly
    Secretary General of the Congress
    Secretary of the Committee of Ministers
    Directors General
    Registrar of the European Court of Human Rights
    Acting Director of the Private Office of the Acting Secretary General
    Director of External Relations
    Director of Strategic Planning
    Director of Communication
    Director of the Office of the Commissioner for Human Rights