Council of Europe to Take Part in Peace Process

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–RFE/RL)–Council of Europe Monitoring Commission Chairman Moto Amaral (Portugal) presented an initiative to set up a subcommission to deal with conflicts within Europe–said Armen Rustamian–a member of the commission–in an interview with Radio Liberty. The list of conflicts this commission will deal with includes the Karabakh conflict.

Foreign Relations Commission Chairman of the National Assembly Hovhannes Hovhannissian–said that the Council of Europe has made an important political decision and will start to participate in the settlement of the Karabakh conflict–within the framework of the Commission on Political Issues. A member of this commission will be appointed rapporteur on the Nagorno Karabakh issue.

Ilham Aliyev made the suggestion at the Council of Europe to include the Karabakh issue in the set of conflicts the commission will try to resolve–and his suggestion was seconded by about 50 deputies. Council of Europe Issues Monitoring Report

Six months after a country becomes a member of the Council of Europe–the Parliamentary Assembly of the pan-European body launches a monitoring effort to assess the compliance of the new member state with standards imposed by the inter-governmental body. For Armenia and Azerbaijan the monitoring task has been given to Irina Belahorskaya of Slovakia–who visited Armenia two weeks ago on a monitoring mission.

This week the monitoring group held a meeting in Strasbourg during which Belahorskaya presented her report. According to an Armenian member of the Parliamentary Assembly of CE–Armen Rustamian the report indicated that Armenia abides by the standards and implemen’s the decisions of the European body. At the same time that the report voices confidence in the willingness of politicians and the government in Armenia to fulfill membership requiremen’s–Bilahorskaya has voiced certain reservations. In the first instance is Armenia’s reluctance to abolish the death penalty. A number of political forces according to the report want to maintain the death penalty in connection with the October 27–1999terrorist attack on the Armenian parliament. The trial of the perpetrators is underway–and many believe that if the death penalty is abolished now–the terrorists will not receive their due punishment for a cold-blooded massacre of government leaders.

The monitoring report also registers that Armenia is tardy in meeting certain deadlines. However–in this respect also–delays are linked to other issues–such as proposed constitutional changes. Belahorskaya proposed to extend the deadline for Armenia to meet some requiremen’s.

The monitoring report on Azerbaijan completed by another rapperteur is much harsher in its criticism of failures and delays in meeting set requiremen’s. This criticism first of all pertains to democratic standards–for example a lack of understanding that the existence of opposition political forces is a normal phenomenon. The report also criticizes the war rhetoric in Azerbaijan indicating that the country has developed intolerance towards its neighbors.

Council of Europe Press Service reported that Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–signed the following texts on Thursday–in the presence of Council of Europe Secretary General Walter Schwimmer:

1. The European Convention on the Transfer of Proceedings in Criminal Matters [ETS 073]. Under this Convention–any Contracting State may request another Contracting State to take proceedings against a suspected person in its stead and then waive proceedings itself.

2. The Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on Extradition [ETS 086]. This text adds some provisions designed to strengthen the protection of individuals and of mankind as a whole. War crimes and crimes against humanity are accordingly excluded from the category of non-extraditable political offenses. The Protocol also specifies certain cases in which extradition may be refused.

3. The Second Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on extradition [ETS 098] The purpose of this Protocol is to facilitate the application of the Convention. It adds fiscal offenses to those giving rise to extradition under the Convention. It also contains provisions on judgmen’s in absentia and amnesty.

4. The European Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism [ETS 090] This Convention is designed to permit the extradition of persons committing particularly serious offenses–such as the hijacking of aircraft–kidnapping and taking of hostages–the use of bombs–grenades–rockets–letter or parcel bombs-where this endangers people-together with any serious act of violence against the life–physical integrity or liberty of people.

It is expressly provided that nothing in the Convention shall be interpreted as imposing an obligation upon a State to extradite a person who might then be prosecuted or punished solely on account of his race–religion–nationality or political opinion. The Convention can be applied only between member states of the Council of Europe.

5. The Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters [ETS 099] The primary purpose of the Protocol is to extend the Convention’s application to cases of fiscal offenses. The Protocol which may be accepted in part–supplemen’s the provisions of the Convention on other points–for example the service of certain documen’s and the exchange of information on judicial records.

6. The European Convention on Compensation of Victims of Violent Crimes [ETS 116]. Under this Convention–States must provide either in their legislation–or in their administrative arrangemen’s–a scheme to compensate–from public funds–victims of intentional and violent offenses who have suffered bodily injury or death. The Convention–which fixes the minimum requiremen’s for such schemes–lists items for which compensation must be paid.

The Convention is based upon the principle that social justice requires a State to compensate not only its own nationals but also victims of other nationalities in its territory–including migrant workers–tourists–students–etc.

The Convention allows upper and lower limits to be fixed for the payment of compensation. Finally–it stipulates that compensation may be withheld for instance where the victim belongs to a criminal gang–or an organization which commits acts of violence–or is a known criminal.

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