Members of the Council of Europe is required to develop common rules on a number of issues related to human rights, for example, blocking or filtering Internet content, about “mass surveillance” or respect for the rights of journalists, concludes the Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland in the annual report “State of democracy, human rights and the rule of law: the imperative for European security.” The document was published on Wednesday.
Questions to “one country”
In most countries of the Council of Europe the rights of citizens to freedom of Assembly are respected, although not everywhere it is perceived as “an integral part of pluralistic democracy”, even in countries with a long history of democratic rule. The main problem Jagland sees that the notification procedure for public assemblies often in reality is replaced by the permissive that allows the authorities to arbitrarily refuse carrying out of actions which are considered to be “promoting homosexuality.”
No complaints from Jagland and to the implementation of the freedom of Association in most countries of the continent, although in recent years a number of States and began to apply “more restrictive approach” in monitoring activities of public organizations.
“The law of one country gives reason for sweeping depriving NGOs of registration, their dissolution, or the recognition of “junk” on the grounds inadmissible. NPOs face barriers in their activities, the obligations imposed on them by financial reporting and constraints on foreign funding”, — stated in the report. Also “in one country” is too broad a legal definition of “political activity” restricts the participation of NGOs in the political process”, said Jagland. In the part dedicated to the freedom of speech, States that “the new restrictions on foreign investment in the media were imposed in one member country”.
The law on “undesirable organizations” was signed by President Vladimir Putin in may 2015, and the law on “foreign agents” has been in place since 2012. In the first reading supported already submitted to the Duma in February of this year, a bill clarifying the concept of “political activity”, which was nevertheless criticized by human rights defenders. From 1 January 2016 in Russia came into force a law banning foreign citizens and legal entities from owning more than 20 percent stake in national media.
State Duma Deputy Robert Schlegel has noticed that does not consider that under the “one country” should certainly understand Russia. “If this is Russia, why didn’t you say that,” says the legislator.
As regards freedom of Assembly, special response from the Council of Europe not required — Jagland offers be limited to bilateral work with the countries-members, for example, on the question of the use of force to disperse public gatherings only in the most exceptional cases.
However, due to limitations in the sphere of activities of NGOs, it offers up to the end of 2016 to develop the General recommendations of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe on regulation of foreign funding of public organizations.
General rules for surveillance and blocking
Other recommendations relate to the creation of General standards of state intervention in the freedom of the Internet. “The biggest concern in connection with the implementation of freedom of speech on the Internet is causing the blocking, filtering and removal of Internet content that does not have legal grounds or are used arbitrarily,” reads the report. Most member countries of the Council of Europe do not have legislation that would regulate these issues. By the end of 2016, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe should be represented by a draft European standard regulation network, said Jagland.
Such standards should be developed by the same deadline and to the practice of “mass surveillance”, which is applied by the intelligence services of the member countries of the Council of Europe. Until the end of the year, experts of the organization needs to codify international standards and practices such surveillance, paying special attention to the protection of personal information and freedom of expression.
As stated by state Duma Deputy Robert Schlegel, the recommendations of the report Jagland — binding, this means that prepared with its submission of the initiative will be considered by the Committee of Ministers. Russia currently continues to work in the format of Committee (in contrast to the parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe), and if the discussion of common standards for NGOs and supervision of the Internet space will be conducted through it, then Moscow will take part in this work.