The Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights takes active part in the proceedings of working groups, mainly in criminal matters, of the Council of Europe (CoE), the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), as well as other regional fora.
COUNCIL OF EUROPE
The Council of Europe is an international, intergovernmental organisation, now consisting of 47 member states, and is based in Strasbourg, France. It was founded in 1949 and its objectives are:
▪ to protect human rights, pluralist democracy and the rule of law;
▪ to promote awareness and encourage the development of Europe's cultural identity and diversity;
▪ to find common solutions to the challenges facing European society;
▪ to consolidate democratic stability in Europe by backing political, legislative and constitutional reform.
The main bodies of the Council of Europe are the Committee of Ministers, the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of Europe and the General Secretary.
The proceedings of the Council of Europe result in European Conventions and agreements, based on which member states may harmonise and amend their legislation (for more information about the Council of Europe, see www.coe.int).
I. Council of Europe and Legal Cooperation
The Council of Europe addresses all matters relating to justice and works towards the cooperation of its member states in the efficiency of criminal and civil justice and the reform of family and nationality law.
Greece, as a member state of the Council of Europe, is represented by the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights and participates in Council of Europe's groups/committees addressing matters for which the Ministry is responsible.
The main groups/committees are:
European Committee on Legal Cooperation (CDCJ)
It has been operating since 1963 and is responsible for many areas of the legal activities of the Council of Europe. The objectives of CDCJ are to accomplish legal cooperation in the fields of public and private law, so that member states can comply with European standards. Its tasks include organisation and supervision of the work of its committees; the adoption of draft conventions, agreements, protocols or recommendations; the monitoring, the functioning and implementation of international instruments within its field of competence and assistance to states; the preparation, jointly with the European Committee on Crime Problems, of Council of Europe Conferences of Ministers of Justice; the adoption, for the Committee of Ministers, of opinions on legal matters within its competence; co-operation with other Council of Europe bodies, in particular with the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC), the Multidisciplinary Group on Corruption (GMC) and the Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE).
Committee of Experts in Family Law (CJ-FA)
The Committee of Experts in Family Law (CJ-FA), under the leadership of the European Committee on Legal Cooperation (CDCJ), heads the intergovernmental activities of the Council of Europe in matters of legal protection of the family, especially children. Its objective is to strengthen the legal protection of children and create an area with common legal criteria in the field of family law in Europe.
Consultative Committee of the Convention for the protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data (T-PD)
The Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (CETS No.108) was signed by Greece in 1983 and was ratified by Law 2068/92. In 2001 Greece signed the Additional Protocol to the upper Convention (CETS No.181), which has not yet been ratified.
European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC)
Its objectives are to promote the implementation and harmonization of national policies as well as the development of policies common to member states with regard to criminal law, criminal procedure, crime prevention and the treatment of offenders; periodically review crime policy in Europe by means of conferences; promote criminological research to support crime policy; promote international cooperation in the penological field, in particular by furthering the implementation of the European Prison Rules and by encouraging meetings of specialists in this matter; examine the functioning and implementation of Council of Europe conventions and agreements in the penal field with a view to adapting them and improving their practical applications where necessary; to follow developments in European cooperation in the penal field in order to promote coordination etc.
Council of Europe's Committee of Experts on the Operation of European Conventions in the Penal Field (PC-OC)
In the context of this Committee, which has been operating since 1981, meetings are held between experts from all member states with a view to look for ways to improve international cooperation in penal matters and implement the Council of Europe conventions in this field.
European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice (CEPEJ)
The aim of the CEPEJ is the improvement of the efficiency and functioning of justice in the member States, and the development of the implementation of the instruments adopted by the Council of Europe to this end. Specifically, in the context of CEPEJ, National Correspondents are determined, responsible for answering questionnaires and providing information for the evaluation of European Judicial Systems, the Working Group on Execution (CEPEJ-GT-EXE), the CEPEJ Network of Pilot Courts and the Network of National Correspondents for the Evaluation of European Judicial Systems in the context of its Working Group on the evaluation of justice.
Council of Europe's Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA)
GRETA is responsible for monitoring implementation of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings by the Parties. GRETA must regularly publish reports evaluating the measures taken by the Parties for the implementation of the Convention and those Parties which do not fully respect the measures contained in the Convention will be required to step up their action.
Consultative Council of European Prosecutors (CCPE)
The objective of the CCPE is to define the scope of the right to an independent and impartial court, as established in Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, strengthen the rule of law and effectively protect human rights in democratic States.
CCJE contributes to the implementation of the global action plan for judges in Europe (adopted by the Committee of Ministers to strengthen the role of judges in member states), plays a consultative role in matters relating to the independence, impartiality and competence of judges and may also provide practical assistance to states in order for them to comply with criteria set for judges.
Group of Specialists on Child-Friendly Justice (CJ-S-CH)
The objective of the Group of specialists is to produce comprehensive Guidelines on child-friendly justice, which will assist member states in ensuring that children have favourable access to justice.
Council of Europe's Consultative Council of European Judges (CCJE)
The Consultative Council of European Judges was established by the Committee of Ministers to strengthen the role of judges in Europe, as the judiciary is seen as the cornerstone of the rule of law, one of the basic principles of the Council of Europe. This Council is an advisory body on issues related to the independence, impartiality and competence of judges and is the first body within an international organisation composed exclusively of judges and in this respect it is unique in Europe.
Ad Hoc Committee on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (CAHVIO)
Its objective is to evaluate the effective operation of measures preventing and combating violence against women, at national and international level; to formulate proposals on the revision of such measures or the adoption of new ones; to develop a method to assist member states in adopting policies for the combating of violence; evaluate the results of the index-based monitoring mechanism. Finally, to conduct research on the possible roles of men in the context of domestic violence (not as offenders, but as victims etc.) and process a guide plan for preventing and combating violence against women.
II. Council of Europe and Combating Corruption and Trans-border Crime
i) GRECO (Group of States Against Corruption) has been established in the context of the Council of Europe's operations. It is mainly based on the principles of mutual evaluation in matters of corruption and ensures proper implementation by states of the two international conventions adopted by the Committee of Ministers, i.e. the Criminal Law Convention on Corruption and the Civil Law Convention on Corruption.
GRECO adopted the Addendum to the Second Round Compliance Report on Greece at its 46th Plenary Meeting (Strasbourg, 22-26 March 2010). The Addendum has been made public in
In the course of the 47th Plenary Meeting of GRECO (Strasbourg, 7-11 June 2010), the Third Round Evaluation Report on Greece was adopted, with the recommendations of GRECO. See the texts on:
ii) Combating cybercrime: The Council of Europe has recently adopted the Convention on cybercrime with the purpose of addressing this dangerous form of crime, opened for signature on 23 November 2001 in Budapest. Greece has signed the convention but has not ratified it yet.
iii) Combating racism and xenophobia. The spread of the phenomenon of acts of racist and xenophobic nature on the internet has been criminalized in many states. However, much remains to be done in order to coordinate the approaches to the matter and effectively deal with the problem at global level. These elements are comprised in the additional Protocol to the Convention on cybercrime, opened for signature on 28 January 2003. Greece has signed this protocol but has not ratifiedit yet.
III. Council of Europe and Terrorism
The Multidisciplinary Group on International Action Against Terrorism (GMT) held its first meeting in December 2001 and decided to establish two more working groups (GMT-Rev and GMT-Rap/Suivi) to assist it, so that the Council of Europe may have bodies to combat terrorism. In 2003 this group was replaced by the Committee of Experts on Terrorism (CODEXTER), an intergovernmental committee whose main objective is to coordinate the activities of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe for the prevention of terrorism at national and international level.
The UN is an international organisation, officially founded on 24 October 1945, and consists of 189 sovereign states. Its objective is to preserve international peace and security, develop friendly relations among nations and promote social progress, better living standards and human rights. Its member states are bound by the principles of the United Nations Charter, an international convention comprising the rights and obligations of the members of international community. Its bodies are: the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council, the International Court of Justice and the Secretariat (also see www.un.org). The UN also comprises programmes and funds, such as UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund), UNDP (United Nations Development Programme), UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), and organisations specializing in various fields, such as health, agriculture, meteorology etc.
The Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights takes active part in the following Committees in the context of the UN:
I. UN and corruption
It is becoming increasingly tangible that dealing with corruption forms an integral part of the effort to achieve a more effective, just and adequate governance. An increasing number of states realize that bribery obstructs growth and ask the UN to assist them in obtaining the tools that would combat such practices. The causes of corruption are many and varied and the measures of prevention, enforcement and prosecution implemented in some countries cannot be applied in others.
The UN has developed a Global Programme against Corruption, in the context of the Centre for the International Crime Prevention (CICP) of the UN Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, in association with the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI). The objective of the programme is to assist member states in their efforts to build a uniform way of addressing and preventing corruption by increasing the risks and costs of abuse of power for personal gain.
At international level, the Global Programme against Corruption promotes global transparency and responsibility through the establishment of a control mechanism, the provisions comprised in the UN Convention on Corruption of 31 October 2003 and the adoption of cohesive strategies by the international community, in order to combat corruption through common experiences and information. Greece has ratified this convention by Law 3666/08 (Government Gazette A 105/10 June 2008). (Also see http://www.unodc.org/odccp/corruption/index.html?ref=menuside).
The main UN commissions/groups established and operating in the field of combating corruption, in which the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights is represented, are:
▪ Commission for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice: The Commission addresses matters of crime prevention, criminal justice and criminal law reform. It is a subsidiary body of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
▪ Intergovernmental working group for the establishment of a mechanism for the review of the implementation of the UN Convention against corruption: The Conference of the State Parties entrusted the working group to design a mechanism for the review of the implementation of the Convention.
▪ Conference of State Parties to the UN Convention against Corruption.
▪ Intergovernmental working group on asset recovery.
II. UN - Commission for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice
In the context of the Centre for the International Crime Prevention (CICP), internationally recognised principles have been developed in areas such as judicial independence, victim protection, alternatives to prison, treatment of prisoners, use of police force, mutual legal aid and extradition.
The principles for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice relate to international cooperation, treatment of offenders, judicial and legal enforcement, children justice, victim protection, death penalty, tortures and other acts of infringement of human rights and dignity etc.
In this context, member states submit data, comprised in a report of the UN Secretary General and submitted for further discussion to the Commission for Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, which meets at least twice a year. (Also see http://www.uncijn/org/Standards/Compendium/ compendium.html).
III. UN and Narcotic Drugs
The Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) is the central policy-making body in the context of the UN system on narcotic drugs. It analyses the global situation of narcotics and develops proposals to strengthen international control of the narcotics system and deal with the problem in a worldwide manner.
The Commission heads the International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP). It is a commission of the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and functions as the central policy-making and coordination body of UN operations against drugs. Specifically, it assists the Council in supervising the implementation of international Conventions and agreements against drugs. (Also see: http://www.unodc.org/unodc/en/drug-prevention-and-treatment/index.html).
IV. UN and Terrorism
The UN has adopted a series of Conventions and Protocols on terrorism. The Terrorism Prevention Branch (TPB), part of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), cooperates with the UN Centre for the International Crime Prevention, researches terrorist trends and assists the states to upgrade their potential in order to investigate and deter terrorist acts.
IV. Other UN commissions and bodies
Moreover, the Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights cooperates, through the competent agencies of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with UN commissions/bodies such as the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Commission on Human Rights etc. both to formulate the Greek positions and to prepare and negotiate international instruments and conventions in the context of the organisation.
ORGANISATION FOR ECONOMIC COOPERATION AND DEVELOPMENT (OECD)
OECD consists of 32 member states and is a unique forum for discussing, developing and improving economic and social policies. In the context of OECD, member states share experiences, look for solutions to common problems and work together to coordinate domestic and international policies, in order to assist both members and non-members in dealing with an increasingly globalised planet. Their exchanges may also lead to official agreements. (Also see http://www.oecd.org/home/).
OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions
The working group supervises and monitors the implementation of the OECD Convention on combating bribery of foreign public officials in international business transactions. Greece ratified this Convention by Law 2656/1998.
The Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights monitors the development of the discussions in the context of the OECD special intergovernmental body on money laundering, the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF).
FATF is an international financial task force on money laundering and consists of 34 members. Since 2001 its duties also include the fight against terrorism financing.
FATF develops and promotes policies, at national and international level, to deal with money laundering. Being a policy-maker, its primary objective is to activate the political will necessary to bring national policies and relevant regulatory reform closer. (Also see www.fatf-gafi.org).
SOUTHEAST EUROPEAN COOPERATION
SOUTHEAST EUROPEAN COOPERATIVE INITIATIVE (SECI)
The Southeast European Cooperative Initiative (SECI) was undertaken in a pioneer conference in Geneva in 1996, with the objective to deal with the crisis caused in the area by the collapse of the former communist regimes, especially in Yugoslavia. It now consists of 14 member states and aims at facilitating cooperation, in particular by developing specific action for promoting development and cohesion in the broader area.
Task Force on human trafficking in the context of SECI
The task force addresses matters of human trafficking and migrant smuggling.
Anti-Drugs Trafficking Task Force in the context of cooperation of the SECI Centre
The task force reviews drug trafficking in southeast European countries and combats drug dealing.
The Southeast European Prosecutors Advisory Group (SEEPAG)
The objective of the group is to strengthen cooperation among southeast European prosecutors for combating transnational organised crime.
Working Group for processing a draft Convention of the Southeast European Law Enforcement Centre (SELEC)
One of the main issues of concern for the Ministry of Justice is the protection of personal data.
ORGANISATION FOR SECURITY AND COOPERATION IN EUROPE (OSCE)
The OSCE, now consisting of 56 countries, may be deprived of legal personality, but is always inspired by the principles of the Helsinki Final Act and constitutes a political dialogue forum on issues relating to three dimensions of international security: (i) the politico-military dimension, (ii) the economic and environmental dimension, and (iii) the human dimension. Since the Helsinki Final Act, Greece consistently fulfills the obligations stemming from contractual instruments elaborated in the context of CSCE/OCSE, while it takes active part in its activities, either autonomously or as member of the European Union. The main OSCE body is the Chairmanship, which is held for one year and exercised by the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Greece chaired the organisation in 2009. The Ministry of Justice, Transparency and Human Rights takes active part in the formulation of Greek positions on matters of democratization, strengthening of the rule of law and protection of human rights in the context of the organisation.
COOPERATION WITH INTERNATIONAL NGOs
This cooperation comprises the provision of information and data relating to requests and actions by such organisations, as well as responses to relevant questionnaires in matters of competence of the Ministry of Justice. Such NGOs include, but are not limited to, Amnesty International.