Secretary General Jagland visits San Marino

1 April 2012 San Marino

"What is needed was a real reform of the Council of Europe, and this is what you are doing", emphasised Ms Antonella Mularoni, Foreign Minister of San Marino, during the official visit of SG Thorbjørn Jagland, 1-2 April. The Foreign Minister also informed the SG that San Marino has already...

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Council of Europe ready to assist Russia on political reform

23 March 2012 Moscow

In a meeting with President D. Medvedev and Foreign Minister Lavrov in Moscow today, Secretary General Jagland underlined the readiness of the Council of Europe to further provide expert advice and assistance in support of political reforms in Russia. “We need to further develop political...

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Secretary General Jagland visits Morocco and Tunisia

3 April 2012

"We need the full support of the Council of Europe and the European Union to set up independent democratic institutions, a vibrant civil society and a free media”, underlined the Tunisian Foreign Minister. The President of Tunisia, Mr Moncef Marzouki emphasised, “we are extremely interested in...

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Thorbjørn Jagland : Human Rights Court is assessing medical treatment of Tymoshenko

26 April 2012 Strasbourg

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland today issued the following statement : “I am extremely concerned about the reports that Yulia Tymoshenko was beaten up in prison. It is in the interest of the Ukrainian Government to make sure these claims are investigated in a credible and transparent manner...

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Secretary General meets Nobel Peace Prize laureate Tawakkul Karman

10 May 2012 Strasbourg

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland met today with Tawakkul Karman, 33 year-old Yemeni journalist, politician and human rights activist. Ms Karman is one of three joint recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full...

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Closer co-operation between Council of Europe and Albania

24 May 2012 Albania

"Council of Europe plays a vital role for the democratic changes in Albania", underlined the Foreign Minister. "We will do our utmost to further strengthen the role of the Council of Europe in Europe", Haxhinasto said. "I very much welcome a well-prepared Albanian Chairmanship of the Committee of...

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Secretary General visits Latvia

4 June 2012 Latvia

In Riga yesterday the Secretary General Jagland met with President Andris Bērziņš, Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis, Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs and the Latvian Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly. Discussions covered Council of Europe reform, reform of the European Court of Human...

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Secretary General visits Amman, Ramallah and Jerusalem

29 May 2012

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland visited Amman, Ramallah and Jerusalem on 27-29 May. In Amman, on 27 May, Mr Jagland met with King Abdullah II, Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh, the Speaker of the Senate Taher Al Masri and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Abed Kareem Doghmei. On 28 May...

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New Gender Equality Commission: Kick-off meeting

8 June 2012 Strasbourg

“Women continue to earn less, decide less, and count less than men. There is one area where women count more than men: in the records of victims of violence”. Speaking at the launch of the Council of Europe new Gender Equality Commission on 6 June, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said that...

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Secretary General addresses European Dialogue on Internet Governance

13 June 2012 Stockholm

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland delivered a keynote speech at the opening of the European Dialogue on Internet Governance conference today in Stockholm. On the second day of the conference, on 15 June, he is participating in a panel on changes in European democracy together...

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Secretary General welcomes Mustapha Ben Jaafar, speaker of Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly

28 June 2012 Strasbourg

The visit of Mustapha Ben Jaafar, speaker of Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly to the Council of Europe, who is to speak today at 3:30 p.m. in front of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, was welcomed by the Secretary General of the Organisation, Thorbjørn Jagland: "Today,...

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Secretary General alarmed by proposed NGO legislation in Russia

7 July 2012 Strasbourg

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland made the following statement on proposed NGO legislation in Russia: “I am concerned about proposals to label non-governmental organisations which receive funding from abroad as ‘foreign agents’ and create new administrative hurdles to their...

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Secretary General calls on Council of Europe expert body to assess compliance with rule of law in Romania

7 July 2012 Strasbourg

Reacting to the vote in the Romanian parliament on Friday to suspend president Basescu, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland issued the following statement: "I am very concerned about the recent developments in Romania, especially about actions taken by the Government and the...

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Texas execution: Death is not justice

10 August 2012 Strasbourg

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland today issued the following statement: "Use of the death penalty is abhorrent in all circumstances, particularly when applied to children, the elderly or people with mental illness. Such was the case of Marvin Wilson, executed by the Texas...

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Belarus must return to dialogue

10 August 2012 Strasbourg

"President Lukashenko's decision last Friday to expel Sweden's ambassador to Belarus over his support for democracy and human rights in the country will not help to end Belarus' isolation from the rest of Europe. Moreover, the latest decision of the Belarus authorities to terminate the activities...

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Secretary General condemns use of death penalty, as Japan resumes executions

8 August 2012 Strasbourg

Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland today condemned the executions of two death row inmates in Japan last week: "I urge Japan, as an observer State of the Council of Europe, to cease executions and join the growing number of countries that oppose the death penalty. Death...

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Secretary General values co-operation with OSCE

29 March 2012 Vienna

In Vienna today to address the OSCE Permanent Council, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland outlined his proposals to expand and enhance co-operation between the OSCE and the Council of Europe. Mr Jagland believes that “ the OSCE, the European Union and the Council of Europe are the three pillars...

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Secretary General to meet Prime Minister Viktor Orbán in Budapest

20 March 2012 Budapest

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland was in Budapest today for talks with the Prime Minister, Viktor Orbán. The Secretary General also met with Tibor Navracsics, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration and Justice, and with János Martonyi, Minister of Foreign Affairs. The talks...

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Jagland condemns Lukashenko’s refusal to pardon the two men sentenced to death over subway bombing

15 March 2012 Strasbourg

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland today condemned President Lukashenko’s decision not to pardon Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalyov who were sentenced to death in the Minsk subway bombing case in November 2011. "Belarus is the only country in Europe which still executes...

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Thorbjørn Jagland welcomes the election of Nicolae Timofti as new Moldovan President

16 March 2012 Strasbourg

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland today welcomed the election of Nicolae Timofti as new Moldovan President. “Today marks an important milestone in the history of the Republic of Moldova. I congratulate the political leaders for having found a compromise to elect the President,...

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Speeches Speeches

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.