Statement on the execution of Kiryl Kazachok in Belarus

Spokesperson of the Secretary General 9 March 2018 Strasbourg

“The Council of Europe deeply regrets that a further execution has reportedly taken place in Belarus. We call on the Belarusian authorities to stop executing people and to join all of the other countries in Europe in rejecting capital punishment. Death is not justice.“

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Meeting of Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland with Italian Justice Minister Orlando

Secretary General 20 February 2018 Strasbourg

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and Minister of Justice of Italy Andrea Orlando had an exchange of views today at the Palais de l’Europe to discuss current developments and issues of common interest. The Secretary General and the Minister underlined the excellent co-operation between Italy...

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Turkey: Secretary General Jagland meets Turkish leadership in Ankara on 15-16 February

Spokesperson of the Secretary General 13 February 2018 Strasbourg

Speech to the candidate judges and prosecutors of the Justice Academy

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Ceremony to mark International Day of Holocaust Commemoration

Secretary General 25 January 2018 Strasbourg

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen led tributes to the memory of Holocaust victims, at a ceremony outside the main Council of Europe building in Strasbourg. Other participants who made addresses and laid wreaths in front of the commemorative stone...

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Secretary General meets the new French parliamentary delegation

Secretary General 22 January 2018 Strasbourg

The Secretary General and members of the French delegation today discussed key issues for the Council of Europe in a difficult political and budgetary context. “The Council of Europe must remain a unifying force for a tangible and powerful ideal; the protection of human rights,” said Nicole...

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Secretary General to PACE: member states have equal obligations and equal rights

Secretary General 22 January 2018 Strasbourg

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has called on the Organisation’s member states to recommit themselves to fulfill their obligations and cooperate in good faith with the Council’s statutory bodies. He said “equal obligations – equal rights” was the only concept that would keep...

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Statement of the Spokesperson of the Secretary General on new death verdicts in Belarus

Spokesperson of the Secretary General 22 January 2018 Strasbourg

"Two new death verdicts handed on 20 January to by the Minsk City Court are a very disturbing development. We reiterate our call on the Belarusian authorities to introduce a moratorium on capital punishment as the first step to its abolition. We call on the authorities not to proceed to the...

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Statement by the Secretary General on the situation around Memorial Human Rights Centre

Secretary General 17 January 2018 Strasbourg

“The arson attack this night on the Ingushetia office of Memorial, a leading Russian rights group, is very alarming. I call on the federal and regional authorities to investigate it thoroughly and in full transparency. Human rights NGOs have an important role to play in the civil society in all...

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FIFA and the Council of Europe to promote human rights

Secretary General 10 January 2018 Strasbourg

FIFA President Gianni Infantino and Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland met in Strasbourg today to discuss how to better promote human rights in sport. The meeting followed an exchange of views between the FIFA President at the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers....

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Secretary General Jagland urges Bucharest to rethink reform of the judiciary

Secretary General 22 December 2017 Strasbourg

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland has today sent a letter to the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis, urging the authorities to seek the expertise of the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission (European Commission for Democracy through Law) regarding the legislative reforms on the judiciary...

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Secretary General Jagland on the passing of Arseny Roginsky, President of International Memorial

Secretary General 18 December 2017 Strasbourg

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland expressed his condolences today in the following statement:“I am deeply saddened by the passing of Arseny Roginsky, one of the founders and the President of the International Memorial, one of the best known and most respected human...

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Secretary General in Madrid to commemorate 40th anniversary of Spain's accession

Secretary General 23 November 2017 Madrid

Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland is in Madrid today to speak at the opening of an event in the Spanish Parliament to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Spain´s accession to the Council of Europe, on 24 November 1977. The Secretary General said that “over the last 40 years Spain has developed a...

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Secretary General Jagland attends Social Summit for Fair Jobs and Growth

Secretary General 17 November 2017 Strasbourg

Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland is attending a major European Summit to promote fair jobs and growth. The Social Summit is taking place on Friday 17 November in Gothenburg, Sweden, and is jointly organised by the European Commission and the Swedish government. The summit was...

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Council of Europe partners with leading technology companies to promote respect for human rights

Council of Europe 8 November 2017 Strasbourg

The Council of Europe will strengthen its co-operation with the private sector in order to promote an open and safe internet, where human rights, democracy, and the rule of law are respected. Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland signed the agreement – in the form of an exchange...

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Press conference with Council of Europe Secretary General Jagland and CHP Leader Kılıçdaroğlu

Spokesperson of the Secretary General 7 November 2017 Strasbourg

Strasbourg, Wednesday 8 November, 14.30, in front of the Secretary General’s office

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PEN International joins Council of Europe platform to protect journalists

Council of Europe 6 November 2017 Strasbourg

The Executive Director of PEN International, Carles Torner, today signed the agreement to join the Platform to promote the protection of journalism and safety of journalists with the Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland. The platform allows trusted media freedom organisations to...

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European Conference of Judges "Judicial Integrity and Corruption"

Consultative Council of European Judges 6 November 2017 Strasbourg

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland will open the European Conference of Judges: "Judicial Integrity and Corruption", to be held at the Council of Europe on 7 November 2017. This conference, organised by the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE) will allow to...

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Secretary General Jagland on official visit to Denmark

Spokesperson of the Secretary General 2 November 2017 Strasbourg

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, made an official visit to Denmark on 3 November where he met the Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Anders Samuelsen, the Minister for Justice Søren Pape Poulsen and the Minister for Equal...

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French President Emmanuel Macron visits the Council of Europe

Secretary General 31 October 2017 Strasbourg

President Emmanuel Macron has reaffirmed France’s support for the Council of Europe and its institutions during a visit to the organisation’s headquarters in Strasbourg, where he met the Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland before making a speech at the European Court of Human Rights. During a...

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Secretary General appalled by attack against Russian journalist

Secretary General 23 October 2017 Strasbourg

Secretary General Jagland is appalled by the violent attack against Tatiana Felgenhauer, Deputy Editor of Ekho Moskvy, which took place on the premises of the well-known Russian radio station. The Secretary General wishes to express his support to Ms Fegenhauer, who is now hospitalised, and to...

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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.