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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Secretary General makes official visit to Serbia

12 March 2012 Serbia

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland launched on 12 March the Serbian version of the “Living Together” report in Belgrade during an official visit. Secretary General met Serbian President Boris Tadic and Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, along with Justice Minister Snežana Malović,...

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Compliance with democratic norms and values under serious threat in many parts of Europe

23 January 2012 Strasbourg

In his State of the Council of Europe speech to the Parliamentary Assembly today, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland pointed to key achievements in 2011 and challenges facing the Organisation in 2012 and beyond. He said that reforms have made the Council of Europe flexible and...

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Jagland discusses integration with eight Presidents in Helsinki

10 February 2012 Helsinki

Invited by President Halonen of Finland, Secretary General Jagland took part in a meeting with the presidents of Italy, Germany, Latvia, Portugal, Hungary, Slovenia and Finland. Secretary General presented a strategy for the democratic management of diversity in Europe. (see the report “Living...

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Secretary General calls on Dutch government to respond to concerns about problematic website

22 February 2012 Strasbourg

In a letter to Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has requested the Dutch government to clarify its position regarding a website sponsored by Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch political party PVV. The website is widely regarded as xenophobic because it solicits...

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Liechtenstein backs Council of Europe reform

2 March Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein's Foreign Minister Aurelia Frick has emphasised Liechtenstein's support for Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland's reform initiatives. The Secretary General expressed his appreciation for the important role of Liechtenstein in the Council of Europe and his gratitude for the country's...

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8 March – International Women’s Day

7 March 2012 Strasbourg

"Promoting equality between women and men must be at the heart of everything we do," asserted Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland. "We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace unless women acquire the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of...

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Secretary General deeply saddened by execution in Belarus

17 March 2012 Strasbourg

Responding to the news of the execution of Dmitry Konovalov and Vladislav Kovalyov, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland said today he was deeply saddened by yet another execution in Belarus. On Thursday Mr Jagland condemned President Lukashenko's decision not to pardon Konovalov...

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HM King Abdullah II of Jordan meets Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland in Strasbourg

18 April 2012 Strasbourg

Today the Secretary General met with HM King Abdullah of Jordan and discussed a number of issues in international relations in the Organisation's southern neigbourhood, and the potential for the Council of Europe to use its instruments to build confidence there. The Council of Europe is ready to...

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Council of Europe announces joint action plan with Morocco

24 April 2012 Strasbourg

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and Moroccan Foreign Minister Saad Dine El Otmani have today signed an action plan of neighbourhood cooperation priorities with Morocco to take forward democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the country. Endorsed following a visit by the Secretary...

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Secretary General expresses his condolences following loss of life in Dagestan

4 May 2012 Strasbourg

In his letter to the Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland strongly condemned the attacks in Makhachkala, Dagestan, and expressed his heartfelt condolences and sympathy to the families of victims. (more…)

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A constructive dialogue with Hungary on media legislation

16 May 2012 Strasbourg

The Hungarian Media Acts raised significant concerns internationally. In March 2012, I paid a visit to Budapest to meet Prime Minister Orbán, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Administration and Justice Navracsics, and Foreign Minister Martonyi. Since then, a constructive dialogue has...

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Secretary General Jagland visits Ukraine

10 September 2012 Ukraine

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland is in Kyiv on Monday 10 September where he met President Viktor Yanukovych and Foreign Minister Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, and addressed a conference on the implementation of the Council of Europe action plan for Ukraine. In his speech, the Secretary General...

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Secretary General condemns film “The innocence of Muslims”

18 September 2012 Strasbourg

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe said today the European Convention on Human Rights offered guidance to European governments responding to the public outcry over the offending, anti-Islamic film. He condemned the film "The innocence of Muslims" as prejudiced and called on member...

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Secretary General Jagland concerned over law on homosexuality in Ukraine

5 October 2012 Strasbourg

In a letter sent to the Chairman of the Verkhovna Rada, Volodymyr Lytvyn, Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland expressed deep concern over a bill which proposes to ban the so-called "promotion" of homosexuality. The Secretary General urged the Ukrainian authorities to guarantee...

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Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland congratulates President Obama

07 November 2012 Strasbourg

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe today issued the following statement on the reelection of President Obama: "I congratulate Barack Obama on his reelection and extend my best wishes for his second term in office. The Council of Europe values the constructive role of the United States...

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Thorbjørn Jagland took part in Strasbourg’s Hanukkah celebration

12 December 2012 Strasbourg

- The Secretary General lit the Flame of Peace on the giant Hanukkah menora which has been erected for the occasion, at the Place de Bordeaux in Strasbourg.

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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 , 

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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.