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Deputy Secretary General visits Portugal

During his visit to Portugal, Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge had meetings with the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Minister of Justice and the Speaker of the Parliament, and he addressed the North-South Prize Award Ceremony and the Executive Committee of the North-South Centre. In the margins of the prize ceremony, Deputy Secretary General also had the opportunity to meet with the Justice Minister of Lebanon, Mr Henry Khoury.

At the award ceremony, held at the Portuguese Parliament, the Deputy Secretary General congratulated the winners of the 2023 North-South Prize of the Council of Europe  Ms. Amina Bouayach and the Global Campus of Human Rights for their notable contributions to the defence and promotion of human rights. “Ms. Amina Bouayach is the first woman to chair a human rights organisation in Morocco. As leader of the Moroccan Organisation for Human Rights she has led many campaigns, including a tireless dedication to abolishing the death penalty”. The second winner today, the Global Campus for Human Rights, represented by Secretary General, Mr Manfred Nowak and President Ms Veronica Gomez, brings together eight regional programmes and 100 universities to form the world’s largest network of human rights organisations “ensuring access to high quality human rights education for an extensive global community of academics, students and lawyers”.

In his address to the Executive Committee of the North-South Centre, Mr Berge highlighted the importance of the external dimension of the Council of Europe in line with the Reykjavik decisions and the South Neighbourhood cooperation. He also reiterated the need to reinforce the capacity and membership of the North-South Centre, which can be very useful to promote Council of Europe’s standards and values in and beyond Europe.

Discussions with the Minister of State and Foreign Affairs, Paulo Rangel, focused on the continued support for Ukraine and the key role of Portugal in various areas of pertinence to the Council of Europe. The Deputy Secretary General thanked Portugal for its support for the Council of Europe Register of Damage. They exchanged on European and global issues and the potential impact of the Council of Europe in the current geopolitical context.

In a separate meeting with the Minister of Justice, Rita Júdice, the Deputy Secretary General thanked Portugal for its commitment to further implement the Council of Europe’s key recommendations in various areas such as the effective investigation into allegations of police ill-treatment, anti-corruption and the execution of judgments, namely related to prison conditions and overcrowding. Portugal’s contributions to the new Convention on Artificial Intelligence and the Council of Europe´s work on cybercrime were also highlighted.

With the President of the Parliament, José Pedro Aguiar-Branco, topics of discussion included Portugal’s political and financial support for the North South Centre, the ongoing ratification of several Council of Europe’s conventions, as well the support to Ukraine.

 Speech by Bjørn Berge, Deputy Secretary General - Award Ceremony of the 2023 North-South Prize

 Speech by Bjørn Berge, Deputy Secretary General - Address at the 32nd meeting of the Executive Committee of the North-South Centre 

Deputy Secretary General Strasbourg 22 May 2024
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