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The PACE adopts first document defining criterion of political prisoner

PACE adopted the first document defining criterion of political prisoner.

Strasburg. Fuad Gulubayli-APA. Today, discussions on political prisoner concept were held at the PACE autumn plenary session.

The report, prepared by German MP Cristopher Shtrasser on “defining political prisoners” and “Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan” was heard at the plenary session of the Assembly, APA’s correspondent at PACE reports.
The discussed document is not only about Azerbaijan but general classification of political prisoner concept in Europe.

The main differences of opinion were at discussions on explanation of political prisoner criteria on the report and if political prisoner term concerns PACE.

The report reads that political prisoner concept was prepared at the Council of Europe by the experts appointed by General Secretary of the organization in 2001.
Their initial missions were to study conditions of political prisoners in 2 newly admitted countries-Azerbaijan and Armenia.
A criterion defined for the political prisoner concept accepted by independent experts were also ratified by the interested sides, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and the PACE

The classification of the concept of political prisoner is noted at the report and the member states to the Council of Europe are called to ratify the document.

But some parliamentarians noted that the PACE never discussed the criterion of the concept of political prisoner and no document was adopted in this regard. Christoph Strasser noted that no legal document or decision on political prisoner was adopted by the PACE in 2001. He also underlined importance to estimate the issue at the assembly.

Before the discussions, a meeting of the PACE Committee on Human Rights and Legal Affairs was held and the amendments to the report "Defining a political prisoner" was discussed. During the discussions, the committee removed 3-rd point of the document presented by Strasser and an amendment was made that the Assembly recognizes the exclusive competence of the European Court of Human Rights.
However, introduced amendment was not adopted at the Assembly. During the vote, opinion was divided equally and in accordance with the procedure changes had not been made.

Although the subject of this meeting was the concept of political prisoners, members mostly talked about the situation in Azerbaijan and met with indignation that Strasser in recent years has not been able to visit Azerbaijan. MPs who supported Strasser’s report were in favor, to give legal assessment of the PACE on the definition of a political prisoner.
At the same time, many members were against the adoption of the report at the PACE. They noted that the document is flawed and needs to be expanded. Former President of PACE, Turkish MP Mevlut Cavusoglu sharply criticized the work of Strasser. He said that the German deputy almost hasn’t done any new work, but simply copied report of 2001 by experts. According to some MPs, adoption of the report opens the possibility to exert political pressure on the member states. They noted that criminals and terrorists i can benefit from this reports. MPs from Spain, the country faces terrorism problem, expressed concerns for undefined terms in a document. Co-rapporteur on Azerbaijan, Spanish MP Pedro Agramunt also criticized the report, noting that the document can be used to protect terrorists.
None from Azerbaijani delegation have made speech.
At the end of the discussions, the document was adopted with 100 "yes" and 64 "against". This is the first document in the history of the PACE that defines the concept of a political prisoner.

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