12:59 04.10.2012

PACE calls on CoE member states to revise cases of political prisoners according to five criteria

2 min read

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has called on all Council of Europe member states to reassess cases of any alleged political prisoners by applying five criteria it has approved recently.

PACE stated that it has reaffirmed its support for the general criteria put forward by independent experts in 2001 to define the notion of political prisoners.

"[PACE] called on all Council of Europe member states to reassess the cases of any alleged political prisoners by applying these criteria and release or retry any such prisoners as appropriate," reads the statement.

"A person deprived of his or her personal liberty is to be regarded as a 'political prisoner' if the detention has been imposed in violation of one of the fundamental guarantees set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and its Protocols (ECHR), in particular freedom of thought, conscience and religion, freedom of expression and information, and freedom of assembly and association," reads the first criterion.

According to the second criterion, a person can be regarded as a political prisoner if the detention has been imposed for purely political reasons without connection to any offence.

A person can also be considered a political prisoner if, for political motives, the length of the detention or its conditions are clearly out of proportion to the offence the person has been found guilty of or is suspected of.

The fourth criterion reads that if, for political motives, a person is detained in a discriminatory manner as compared to other persons, he or she can be regarded as a political prisoner.

According to PACE, a person is a political prisoner if the detention is the result of proceedings that were clearly unfair and appear to be connected to the political motives of the authorities.

"The Assembly added that those deprived of their personal liberty for terrorist crimes shall not be considered political prisoners if they have been prosecuted and sentenced for such crimes according to national legislation and the European Convention on Human Rights," reads the document.

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