2017

18 July 2017
Letter to the Speaker of the Sejm, Marek Kuchciński

20 June 2017
Letter to the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

20 June 2017
Letter to the Federal Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel

16 June 2017
Letter to the United Kingdom Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Theresa May

6 June 2017
Letter to the United Kingdom Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Theresa May

23 May 2017
Letter to the United Kingdom Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Theresa May

4 April 2017
Letter to the High Commissionner for Human Rights of the Russian Federation, Tatiana Moskalkova

4 April 2017
Letter to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin

24 March 2017
Letter to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly President, Pedro Agramunt

14 February 2017
Letter to the President-elect of the Federal Republic of Germany, Frank-Walter Steinmeier

26 January 2017
Letter to the Managing Director of Transparency International, Cobus de Swardt

16 January 2017
Letter to the Chairperson of the Federation Council of the Russia Federation Valentina Matviyenko and the Chairperson of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin

12 January 2017
Letter to the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa

11 January 2017
Letter to the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Miro Cerar
 

2016

30 August 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Volodymyr Groysman

24 August 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Italia, Matteo Renzi

25 July 2016
Letter to the Permanent Representative of Turkey to the Council of Europe, Ambassador Erdoğan Işcan

26 May 2016
Letter to the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Yuriy Lutsenko

13 May 2016
Letter to the President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko

29 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Romania, Dacian Cioloș
Copy of the alert

29 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Croatia, Tihomir Orešković

15 April 2016 
Letter to the Prime Minister of Albania, Edi Rama

15 April 2016
Letter to the Chancellor of Austria, Werner Faymann

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Boyko Borissov

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Croatia, Tihomir Orešković

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Czech Republic, Bohuslav Sobotka

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Denmark, Lars Løkke Rasmussen

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Finland, Juha Sipilä

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Greece, Alexis Tsipras

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Hungary, Viktor Orbán

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Italy, Matteo Renzi

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Poland, Beata Szydło

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Slovak Republic, Robert Fico

15 April 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Slovenia, Miro Cerar

15 April 2016
Letter to the Federal Chancellor of Switzerland, Didier Burkhalter

15 April 2016
Letter to the President of the Government of "The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia", Emil Dimitriev

21 March 2016
Letter to the Acting President of the Government of Spain, Mariano Rajoy

21 March 2016
Letter to the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin

2 March 2016
Letter to heads of government of the 47 member States on protection of migrant and asylym-seeking children
Protecting children affected by the refugee crisis: A shared responsibility - Secretary General's proposals for priority actions

24 February 2016
Letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov

25 January 2016
Letter to the Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg

22 January 2016
Letter to the President of the French Republic, François Hollande

5 January 2016
Letter to the President of Poland, Andrzej Duda
 

2015

15 November 2015
Letter to the President of the French Republic, François Hollande

17 September 2015
Letter to the Organisers and Participants of the Belgrade Pride Parade 2015

9 September 2015
Letter to the Member States
Guidance on the treatment of migrants and asylum seekers

3 August 2015
Letter to the Minister of Justice of Azerbaijan, Fikrat Mammadov

15 June 2015
Letter to the Minister of the Interior of the Czeh Republic, Milan Chovanec

15 June 2015
Letter to the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov

15 June 2015
Letter to the Minister of the Interior of Turkey, Sebahattin Öztürk

15 June 2015
Letter to the State Minister of Monaco, Michel Roger

15 June 2015
Letter to the Deputy Prime Minister of Liechtenstein, Thomas Zwiefelohofer

28 May 2015
Letter to His Eminence Professor Shawki Abdel-Karim Allam, Grand Mufti of Egypt
 

2014

19 August 2014
Letter addressed to the Ministers for Foreign Affairs of 45 member States of the Council of Europe

12 August 2014
Letter to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

19 May 2014
Letter to the President of the Republic of Serbia, Tomislav Nikolić

19 May 2014
Letter to the Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vjekoslav Bevanda

14 May 2014
Letter to the Prime Minister of the Republic of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan

 

2013

8 October 2013
Letter to Mr Shimon Peres, President of Israel

21 August 2013
Letter to Mrs Theresa May, Home Secretary, United Kingdom

13 May 2013
Letter to Mr. Ahmet Davutoğlu, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey

24 January 2013
Letter to Mr Sergey Naryshkin, Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

 

2012

17 December 2012
Letter to the Prime Minister of Romania, Victor Ponta

17 December 2012
Letter to Ms H. Clinton, Secretary of State, USA

5 October 2012
Letter to Volodymr Lytvyn, Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada

6 July 2012
Letter to the President of the European Commission for Democracy through Law, Gianni Buquicchio

4 May 2012
Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affaires of the Russian Federation, Sergey Lavrov

27 March 2012
Letter to Members of the European Parliament

19 March 2012
Letter to the Prime Minister of France, François Fillon

14 March 2012
Letter to the Prime Minister of Belgium, Elio Di Rupo

11 January 2012
Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Hungary, János Martonyi

 

2011

3 October 2011
Letter to the President of the Republic of Serbia, Boris Tadić

14 September 2011
Letter to the Chairman of the State of Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, James E. Donald

26 August 2011
Letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon

24 August 2011
Letter to the President of the Venice Commission, Gianni Buquicchio

10 June 2011
Letter to the Prime Minister of Albania, Sali Berisha

21 March 2011
Letter to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev

14 March 2011
Letter to the Prime Minister of Japan

Speeches Speeches
Back

3rd Independent Police Complaints Authorities Network (IPCAN) Conference “Respecting fundamental rights and freedoms in the context of strengthening the fight against terrorism”

Strasbourg , 

Check against delivery

 

It is a pleasure to be here this morning and to open the third conference of the Independent Police Complaints Authority.

Monsieur Toubon, as the Rights Defender, your decision to establish and promote the Independent Police Complaints Authorities Network (IPCAN) is very welcome.

Today, police forces across our member states – and far beyond – are grappling with the challenge of preventing terrorism, and doing so in a way that upholds the rights and freedoms that earmark healthy democracy.

And not just police forces, of course, but governments and other law enforcement agencies too.

It is vital that this challenge is met.

Failure to protect citizens against the scourge of terrorism puts their lives in danger, undermines public trust in institutions, and fuels populism and xenophobia.

But failure to respect those same citizens’ legal safeguards exposes them to a different danger: the arbitrary abuse of power.

So, these challenges must not be played off against one another.

Let’s be clear: the State has the right to employ its full arsenal of legal weapons to repress and prevent terrorist activities.

That must not lead, however, to indiscriminate measures that deny the fundamental values any State seeks to protect.

For a country to react in such a way would be to fall into the trap set by the terrorists themselves.

Our Court has therefore sent unambiguous warnings to member states that have attempted to combat terrorism by illegal and arbitrary means.

It outlawed some outrageous practices, like extraordinary rendition: a procedure that is “anathema to the rule of law”.

The Council of Europe as a whole shares this view.

Fighting terrorism by means of the rule of law is the only way to preserve the legitimacy of the State’s action and its continued acceptance by citizens in the long term.

So our task is to help our member states ensure that their laws comply with their domestic and international obligations.

Defeating terrorist ideologies, preventing terrorist attacks, bringing perpetrators to justice with laws that are clear, precise and foreseeable.

Those found guilty of violating these rules should be prosecuted and sentenced, in full respect of human rights standards.

But while the rule of law is a timeless principle, the nature and scale of today’s terrorist threat is not.

You know as well as anyone that terrorism is dynamic and fast-changing.

So we need to ensure that our enduring principles operate on the basis of sharp new thinking.

At present, three member states of the Council of Europe have made derogations from their obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

They have used Article 15 of the Convention, which allows them to do so in the case of public emergency threatening the life of the nation. 

And they have done this in response to the terrorist threats that they have faced.

This is understandable.

But, equally, it is undesirable.

Three member states, with a combined population of over 190 million citizens, consider that they are living through a public emergency threatening the life of the nation.

This means one in four of all persons living in Europe does not enjoy the full protection of the Convention.

We have known Article 15 derogations before, but never on this scale.

So I am pleased that President Macron has said publicly that he does not intend to renew the French state of emergency laws.

And I acknowledge what he told me personally: namely that he intends that France’s new anti-terrorism laws should be passed and implemented in conformity with the Convention and case law from the Court.

But I remain concerned that so many citizens are finding themselves in this invidious position.

We must look for ways to avoid the necessity.

We must use modern tools to tackle current trends.

Today, the real terrorist threat in Europe is inspired largely by the ideology propagated by jihadist groups such as Al-Qaida and Daesh.

Their methods have now become increasingly low-cost and primitive.

Renting and driving vans and trucks to kill costs less than acquiring and manipulating explosives.

So police forces need to find new solutions – shortening response times, improving risk assessment and so on – and at the Council of Europe we are doing our own thinking on how to do this best.

There is a technological aspect too.

As the starting point for research, planning and engaging with others, the internet and social networks provide not only the genesis of many terrorist plans, but also host the digital trails that can foil them.

Following these has become indispensable.

That is why we have reviewed and updated the Committee of Ministers recommendation of 2005 on “special investigation techniques” in relation to serious crimes including acts of terrorism.

The updated recommendation adds definitions for “cyber investigation” and “financial investigation” and makes them subject to the same guidelines.

This recommendation is a significant, modernising step and was adopted earlier this summer.

It ensures that we continue to set a global benchmark.

But of course it is only part of a broader picture.

National laws and international co-operation are always at risk of falling behind new trends in crime and terrorism.

Flexibility, co-operation and the effective exchange of good practice are the means for keeping up.

And implementation is key.

In 2005, the Council of Europe adopted the Convention on the prevention of terrorism.

For the first time, this criminalised the public provocation to commit terrorism, recruitment and training for terrorist purposes and a series of other offences, including participating as accomplice, organising and directing others and other contributory acts.

Notably, it also criminalised attempts to recruit or train others for terrorism.

In force since 2007, the convention has now been ratified by 38 member states and signed by 10 more, including the European Union.

However, at that time, people were not travelling to Afghanistan to train in terrorist camps and were not travelling to Syria to do what they mistakenly see as jihad

To address this phenomenon, in 2015 we adopted an Additional Protocol to the convention, which criminalises receipt of training for terrorism, travelling abroad for the purposes of terrorism and funding, and organising or facilitating such travel.

The protocol also criminalises participating in an association for the purpose of terrorism.  

Most importantly, the Additional Protocol established a 24/7 network for exchange of police information about travelling foreign terrorist fighters.

It serves mostly to facilitate the follow-up returning foreign terrorist fighters and prevent them from committing terrorist offences at home.

With 41 members, the Protocol is a significant success.

Agreeing legally binding international treaties takes time.

But in matters of counterterrorism, international law must move forward to tackle the terrorist chimera.

So yes, the legal framework is vital.

But so too is having the enforcement mechanisms that turn theory into reality.

Police are the first respondents to many of the crimes that threaten democratic security.

This is a difficult challenge.

There are understandable concerns about the need to take action, while keeping in mind concerns that this could involve accusations of human rights violations, or allegations of xenophobic or racial bias.

And, as I said at the beginning, modern policing must conform to human rights standards.

Again, we should look to the rule of law.

Historically, this was meant to constrain those in power – “rulers must be kept within their due bounds”.

Today, the challenge is to apply the rule of law equally to everybody, regardless of social or economic status, race or belief.

Good police work is always specific – to the public, to the neighbourhood, to the circumstance.

There are no one-size-fits-all solutions.

That’s why, compared to other sectors, we have much fewer standard-setting instruments for human-rights based police work. 

But we do have the European Code of Police Ethics.

The Convention and the Committee for the Prevention of Torture standards apply to detention in police custody.

And independent review systems are among the best tools to uphold the rule of law where it comes to police action.

So there are frameworks and, by extension, the ability to co-operate and learn.

This is true for Council of Europe member states as much as anyone.

The Human Rights Commissioner seeks of course to promote the independent determination of police complaints, which is a good thing.

But the Council of Europe has also been addressing the lack of effective investigations into allegations of ill-treatment by way of co-operation programmes.

We began this in Eastern partnership countries in 2009, resulting in amendments to national legislation to fight impunity for abuses committed by law-enforcement agents.

Also, since December 2015, we have been encouraging and advising the authorities of “the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” on establishing an External Oversight Mechanism over police work.

Like all administrative action, police work must be subject to judicial review.

So I am in favour of the Council of Europe promoting discussion and exchange of good police practice as a means to improving respect for human rights while combating serious crime – including terrorism.

Terrorism must be tackled and human rights must be maintained.

It can only be sensible to work together and support flexible, real-time co-operation between practitioners to meet those vital ends. 

So we are very pleased to host the 3rd IPCAN conference.

I wish you every success and look forward to working closely with you in future.