Suspected terrorist attack in Berlin: Secretary General statement

Secretary General 19 December 2016 Strasbourg

'The Council of Europe mourns with Germany today for the victims of the suspected terror attack on a Christmas market in Berlin which killed and injured so many innocent people. The responsible way in which the German authorities are handling and communicating this crisis is exemplary. I express...

Read More

Statement by Secretary General Jagland on murder of Russian Ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov

Secretary General 19 December 2016 Strasbourg

"I am shocked and deeply saddened by the assassination of the Russian Federation's Ambassador to Turkey in Ankara today. I present my sincere condolences to the Russian authorities and to the family and colleagues of Ambassador Karlov. All of us at the Council of Europe express our solidarity...

Read More

Cooperation with national human rights bodies to protect freedom of expression and journalists

Council of Europe 15 December 2016 Strasbourg

The Council of Europe and the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions (ENNHRI) are jointly organising on 15 December in Strasbourg a high level seminar to discuss the potential for co-operation to promote and protect freedom of expression and the safety of journalists in member...

Read More

Hate speech is not free speech, says Secretary General ahead of Human Rights Day

Secretary General 9 December 2016 Strasbourg

Speaking ahead of Human Rights Day on 10 December, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, has warned that hate speech and free speech should not be confused. “We look back at what has been achieved and we think of the many people who have endured hardship and given...

Read More

Secretary General Jagland on official visit to Moscow for talks with President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov

Secretary General 6 December 2016 Moscow

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland is visiting Moscow on 6-7 December 2016 with an official visit to meet with the President Vladimir Putin, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Speaker of the Duma Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the Federation Council of the Russian Federation...

Read More

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

Secretary General 1 December 2016 Strasbourg

In the run-up to the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December), the head of the 47-nation Council of Europe has called on European governments to draw on the newly-adopted Disability Strategy (2017-2023) to make human rights a reality for all. Secretary General Jagland said:...

Read More

Celebrating 10 years of stronger Council of Europe/EU relations

Council of Europe 23 November 2016 Strasbourg

Secretary General Jagland and the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Federica Mogherini, are launching a series of initiatives to mark the 10th anniversary of the 2007 Memorandum of Understanding between the Council of Europe and the European Union. In the presence...

Read More

Azerbaijan: Statement by Secretary General Jagland on the decision of the Supreme Court today rejecting the appeal by Ilgar Mammadov

Secretary General 18 November 2016 Strasbourg

“Today, Azerbaijan’s highest court has failed to uphold the country’s legal obligation to execute the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights. The severity of this development for Azerbaijan as a member of the Council of Europe cannot be underestimated. Azerbaijan’s flagrant disrespect of...

Read More

Official visit of the President of Poland Andrzej Duda

Secretary General 16 November 2016 Strasbourg

Polish President Andrzej Duda today paid an official visit to the Council of Europe. Following a meeting with Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, President Duda had an exchange of views with the Ministers’ Deputies. He also met with Guido Raimondi, President of the European Court of Human...

Read More

Cybercrime: towards a new legal tool on electronic evidence

Secretary General 16 November 2016 Strasbourg

“The 15th anniversary of the Budapest Convention on Cybercrime is a turning point, in that the Convention is now reaching out into the ‘clouds’,” said the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, at the opening of the 2016 Octopus conference. Data, and therefore electronic...

Read More

Turkey: Secretary General in Ankara today

Secretary General 10 November 2016 Strasbourg

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has arrived for a series of meetings in Ankara today. He is scheduled to meet President Erdoğan, Prime Minister Yıldırım, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu, Minister for European Affairs Çelik and representatives of opposition parties He will also have a meeting with...

Read More

Secretary General Jagland concerned about the situation of Ildar Dadin

Secretary General 4 November 2016 Strasbourg

Thorbjørn Jagland yesterday expressed his concern about allegations of ill-treatment of human rights activist Ildar Dadin in a telephone call to Alexander Konovalov, Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation. The Secretary General underlined the importance of the joint work carried out by the...

Read More

Turkey: Secretary General Jagland concerned about state of emergency measures and freedom of expression

Secretary General 31 October 2016 Strasbourg

Council of Europe of Secretary General Jagland has commented on recent developments in Turkey in a statement released on Monday: "It is highly questionable if the raid against Cumhuriyet can be justified as a proportionate measure, even under the state of emergency. I am also concerned about the...

Read More

Secretary General on official visit to Monaco

Secretary General 27 October 2016 Monaco

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland will have an Audience with Prince Albert II of Monaco and meet the followings officials: - Mr Philippe Narmino, Director of Judicial Services - Mr Serge Telle, Minister of State - Mr Christophe Steiner, Chairman of the National...

Read More

Statement by the Spokesperson of the Secretary General on the arrest of co-mayors of Diyarbakır

Spokesperson of the Secretary General 26 October 2016 Strasbourg

It is a matter of particular concern to the Council of Europe when democratically-elected representatives are deprived of their liberty. We will ask the authorities in our member state Turkey to provide us with the necessary explanations.

Read More

Secretary General meets Hungarian Justice Minister László Trócsányi

Secretary General 25 October 2016 Strasbourg

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland on Tuesday met the Hungarian Justice Minister, László Trócsányi. Minsiter Trócsányi reported that new legislation had been adopted to provide an effective remedy to victims of prison ovecrowding in line with a pilot judgment (Varga and others) by the European...

Read More

Thorbjørn Jagland: “Congress' thematics are in line with the Council of Europe's priorities”

Congress of Local and Regional Authorities Session 20 October 2016 Strasbourg

“It is very important for the Council of Europe to work with the Congress which represents the grassroots level closest to the people of our member countries”, said Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland in his address to the 31st Session of the Congress on 19 October 2016. He...

Read More

New call for effective national torture watchdogs

Secretary General 13 October 2016 Strasbourg

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe has been joined by prominent human rights activists and experts in a call to ensure that national anti-torture bodies function effectively and meet international ambitions. 10 years ago the United Nations Optional Protocol to the Convention against...

Read More

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.