Sunday, 10 July 2011


Eurocracies are known to be masters of procrastination and, at times, fickle. Even when they take clear decisions, they always need intense campaigning to force them to do what they say they will do. Last month, a coalition headed by an NGO, Europe Info Access, and including both the IFJ and EFJ sent a letter to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjørn Jagland, copied to a bundle of Eurograndees, reminding them of the commitment made at the Reykjavik Ministerial Conference on 29 May 2009 to review anti-terror laws and asking them to do something.

The Reykjavik decision was crystal clear. The ministers agreed to

[R]eview our national legislation and/or practice on a regular basis to ensure that any impact of anti-terrorism measures on the right to freedom of expression and information is consistent with the Council of Europe standards, with a particular emphasis on the case law of the European Court of Human Rights.

The petition asked the Secretary General to use his powers, including the power vested in him under Article 52 of the European Convention on Human Rights, to request member states to declare whether their internal laws are fully protective of freedom of expression and information.

The reply was quick and short. Having noted our concerns, the Secretary General mentioned in passing the activities of the Steering Committee on the Media and New Communications Services and stressed he was pursuing the Council of Ministers Declaration of 13th January on measures to promote Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, but nothing much about the decision made in Reykjavik.

What to do? Well I can see another letter or petition in the making, pressing the Secretary General to answer the question and use his power under Article 52 to carry out an investigation. Didn’t ping-pong diplomacy die with President Nixon?

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