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Ms WOLDSETH (Norway). – I thank the rapporteur, Mr Holovaty, for his report on the functioning of democratic institutions in Europe and the progress of the Assembly’s monitoring procedure. There is no question about the necessity of monitoring different countries. Monitoring is what we do to assist members in reaching democratic standards. It is our responsibility.
Many of the countries that are monitored are so-called new democratic countries and they need advice and guidance. However, we should take into consideration that we perhaps should not look only at the new democratic countries. Even the old ones sometimes need both supervising and monitoring. We seem to think that everything is perfect in western Europe but unfortunately the story is not always so. Prisoners are held without fair trial, immigrants are not treated as they should be, and is the justice system always independent, fair and free of corruption? Does all of western Europe have a truly free press and is there transparent financing of political parties? Those questions should be asked but perhaps are not so simple to answer.
Therefore it is important that the democratic development of countries such as mine are also monitored. The report and recommendations relating to Norway that we find in the addendum to the report should be an important tool for my authorities.
We need efficient monitoring procedures. Council of Europe member states face many challenges: corruption, the lack of a fair trial and of freedom of speech; trafficking in human beings; drugs; and weapons. All of those are important issues to follow closely.
One issue bothers me a bit when it comes to our practical monitoring work. The fact that we nominate one or two rapporteurs for each country, and that the same people seem to remain rapporteurs for that country until they leave the Council of Europe, is not in my opinion the best way of doing the job.
I have recently learned that a former member of the Assembly and rapporteur got a job from the country that that person used to monitor. There may be nothing wrong with that per se, but we still need to raise some critical questions. When a rapporteur has been monitoring a country for three, four or even more years, is he or she still truly independent or is the relationship perhaps getting too close and friendly with the authorities in that country? I do not say that that is always the case but there is a danger there.
Of course I recognise that a rapporteur who has been doing that job for some years has developed useful knowledge and contacts over time but I think that we can find a method of work that takes care of both concerns: that of experience and knowledge and that of objectivity and impartiality.
I therefore suggest that the rapporteur and the chairperson of the Monitoring Committee, Mr Holovaty, should discuss with the committee the issue of greater circulation in the task of monitoring, thus ensuring more mobility and turnover. That would not only better ensure rapporteurs’ objectivity and impartiality, and thus improve our work, but it would also better involve and engage the whole committee. It is a question of our internal working methods. It is important that we address them, and I am sure that together we can find a solution that allows us to strengthen the monitoring procedure even further. That, I believe, is what we all want.
THE PRESIDENT. – Thank you, Ms Woldseth.