Autumn meeting of PACE in Strasbourg – Senate of the States General

From 10 to 14 October 2022, five Senators participated in the fourth sub-session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg. The delegation consisted of Rhea Omen Roegten (CDA, Deputy Head of Delegation), Caspar van den Berg (VVD), Tiny Kox (SP, President of PACE), Margreet de Boer (GroenLinks) and Bob van Pareren (Nanninga Group). In addition to discussions on the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia, the Council adopted several reports and addressed the Assembly by the President of the Ukrainian, Irish and Swiss Federation and the Prime Minister of Albania. Also in a special ceremony, the 2022 Václav Havel Prize for Human Rights was handed over by PACE President Cox to imprisoned Russian opposition leader Vladimir Kara-Murza. And his wife, Yevgenia Kara-Murza, received the award. (Read more below the photo)

Russian aggression against Ukraine

At the opening of the PACE fall session on October 10, PACE President Tiny Kox (SP) referred to the Russian attacks in Kyiv that occurred earlier that day. “Attacks on residential areas and civilian infrastructure are atrocities that deliberately target non-military targets and aim to terrorize innocent people who cannot be ignored and cannot be justified,” Cox said.

On Thursday, October 13, President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the Assembly. “The strength of dialogue will isolate Russia and lead to effective measures for international peace and justice,” President Zelensky said. This was followed by a debate on the political consequences of the aggression of the Russian Federation on Ukraine, in which the Council strongly condemned Russia’s annexation of Ukrainian regions and described the so-called referendums in these regions as an affront to international law, null and void, legal action.or political consequences.

The decision was unanimously passed to do everything necessary to hold the Russian Federation and its leaders accountable for human rights violations, including expediting the creation of a special court to try the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

On October 11, the Equality and Non-Discrimination Committee unanimously adopted a statement condemning the suppression and denial of the rights of Iranian women and girls, and calling on the Iranian government to end the violence. During the previous hearing on the Istanbul Agreement, Tiny Kox made a plea for resistance fake newsThis Convention, which is an important tool for preventing violence against women. Cox praised the courage of Iranian women and men in speaking out against persecution.

On October 11, the Assembly discussed the importance of the Western Balkan countries and whether the Council of Europe could play a catalytic role in the process of Western Balkan accession to the European Union. Marguerite de Boer (GroenLinks) stressed the importance of the international community’s involvement in the Western Balkans. She also stressed the need for inclusive and transparent negotiations on constitutional reforms in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “To provide perspective for the country and its people, the international community must support the fulfillment of democratic and human rights standards, rather than thwart progressive reforms,” ​​de Boer said.

Islamophobia or racism against Muslims

During the October 11 debate on combating Islamophobia or racism against Muslims in Europe, Bob Van Barren (Nanenga Group) spoke on behalf of the European Conservative Group about the absence of Islamophobic causes in the report. “Journalists are looking for a solution to the problems of rules and sanctions. The report does not answer the question of how Islamophobia emerged, and the main point, which is prevention, is missing,” Van Bareren said. Marguerite de Boer pointed out that discrimination against Muslims, or so-called Muslims, is often not seen as a form of racism, and in fact is. “Often this takes the form of hatred of Muslims, deliberate humiliation and disqualification of men and women who are seen as Muslims,” de Boer said.

Fulfillment of Hungary’s obligations

The discussion on 12 October discussed Hungary’s fulfillment of its membership obligations in the Council of Europe. Ria Oomen-Ruijten (CDA) noted that the rapporteurs argue that Hungary is moving away from the principles and values ​​of the Council of Europe, that it is denying the content and effects of the European Convention on Human Rights and that it is moving away from the European Union. “A community of values ​​where the rule of law and respect for freedoms are the unifying assets, requires special attention to fundamental rights and freedoms in Hungary where gay and refugee rights are under pressure, among other things,” said Omen Roigten. .

In the October 12 debate on safe third countries for asylum seekers and measures to manage illegal immigration, de Boer noted that it is not just a definition of security, but also what can be considered a country of origin or a third country. …can we really force an asylum seeker to return to a safe third country, where he has never lived before, as is the norm in many member states,” de Boer asked.

The public discussion about an imminent ban has centered on the Pride Around Ban events in Belgrade, where the municipality cannot guarantee the safety of participants and protesters, not the trend in member states. According to Bob Van Barren, this individual position was not the subject of discussion in the Assembly. “Fortunately, there are a lot of member states where pride events can be held in complete safety and where people of all backgrounds celebrate pride events together,” he said.

Discrimination against women in sports

A report on women in sport was also discussed. The course mentions a number of issues women face in sport, including violence and discrimination. Marguerite de Boer agrees with “Sexual violence against girls and women in sport is a serious problem” and draws necessary attention to the specific problems that transgender and intersex people face in sport.

On October 14, the recommendation was discussed about the extent to which states should avoid distinguishing between those who have been vaccinated and those who have not been vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated for medical or other reasons. Marguerite de Boer emphasized in her contribution that this discussion is not about vaccination per se or about whether vaccination can or should be used as a condition, for example for travel or entry into a public place. “It is about discriminating on the basis of different types of vaccines. People who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 with a vaccine approved by the European Medicines Agency or listed by the World Health Organization should be treated equally.”

The Commission on Equality and Non-Discrimination adopted Marguerite de Boer’s report on marital families. Caspar van den Berg (VVD) attended a seminar on political prisoners in Belarus. “Political prisoners in Belarus are making huge sacrifices in their struggle for freedom and they should know that their situation is a top priority for us,” he said. PACE President Tiny Kox and Bob van Pareren attended the October 10 opening of the SHAME photo exhibition of abused people in their youth. The delegation was also received by Tania Gungeri, Permanent Representative of the Netherlands to the Council of Europe.

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