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Christoph Straesser (Germany)

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Jean Claude Mignon, President of the Assembly

"The next item of business this afternoon is the debate on the report entitled "The definition of political prisoner", Document 13011, presented by Mr. Straesser.

"May I remind colleagues that speaking time in the debates today is limited to three minutes.

"I now call Mr Strässer, the rapporteur."

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Christoph Strässer (Germany)

"Thank you Mister president.

"Ladies and gentlemen, dear colleagues,

"It is three years since the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights has given me this remit to look into the subject of political prisoners. The Committee has assumed two things: first, that such prisoners exist, and secondly, that the Council of Europe should take action.

"In 2001 and 2002 a committee of experts agreed upon a definition which has subsequently been used in four resolutions and recommendations adopted between 2001 and 2005 on Azerbaijan and Armenia by this assembly.

"There was no ambiguity over the definition of a political prisoner.

"Any questioning undermines the work of the Assembly over the previous 10 years. It is, therefore, not enough to talk only about the term itself. The debate should rather be about the direction the Council of Europe wishes to go.

"I oppose the view advocated by some that the Parliamentary Assembly should refrain from talking about the matter on the grounds that it is more properly within the remit of the European Court of Human Rights.

"If this position were adopted members might as well go home."

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