The Council of Europe (CoE) has expressed concern about disinformation, discrimination and “widespread threats” to rule of law within Europe.
The CoE pointed out that “we are facing growing risks to democracy” across Europe, it said as it sets to mark its 70 anniversary next year.
“The danger posed to human rights in Europe is at its highest level since World War II. The protection of individuals against arbitrary measures by the State falls within our expertise and is currently our main focus,” the council said in its 2017 report.
Populism, disinformation, discrimination and threats to rule of law “all require our urgent attention,” it pointed out.
The danger posed to human rights in Europe is at its highest level since World War II
There was an effort – both at a European and national level – to improve the execution of judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. For the first time ever, the Committee of Ministers opened infringement proceedings against Azerbaijan for refusing to execute the judgment handed down by the European courts relating to the arrest of Ilgar Mammadov.
In 2014, the European Court of Human Rights found that that Mammadov had been arrested and detained without any evidence to reasonably suspect him of having committed a criminal offence and concluded that the “actual purpose of his detention had been to silence or punish him for criticising the government”. It found that his right to liberty and security, the presumption of innocence had ben breached.
While welcoming the progress made by Azerbaijan in certain areas, the Committee of Ministers expressed “serious concern” especially regarding the situation of civil society, underlining the importance of human right defenders, journalists and political activists. It called on the Azerbaijani government to fulfil its commitments as a member of the CoE – especially with regards to Mammadov.
If the Grand Chamber finds that Azerbaijan has failed to abide by the judgment, it will refer the case back to the Committee of Ministers to consider the measures to be taken.
Media freedom and journalist safety was also the focus of the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media, which is “currently examining issues such as the protection of editorial integrity and media freedom as a condition for democratic elections”.
Read more: Disinformation Watch