ACCESS’ opinion piece on the decriminalisation of domestic violence in Russia


Published in openDemocracy, 27 January 2017

Russia has decriminalised domestic violence. This means one step towards “traditional values” and two steps back from international human rights standards.

Read the commentary by ACCESS on the harmful effects of ultraconservative political positioning in Russia, the dismissal and ignorance of domestic violence affecting millions of Russians, and the urgent need to adopt specialised legislation and to ratify the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence.

>> The victims of Russia’s ultra-conservatism are the Russian people themselves

International Round Table in Kiev on “The issues of human rights protection of internally displaced persons, and interests of citizens or state on the temporarily occupied territories and in the area of Anti-Terrorist Operation”

27 October 2016, Kyiv, Ukraine – Costas Paraskeva, ACCESS expert on the ECHR,  gave a presentation a presentation on the restitution of property of Internally Displaced Persons at the International Round Table in Kiev on “The issues of human rights protection of internally displaced persons, and interests of citizens or state on the temporarily occupied territories and in the area of Anti-Terrorist Operation”.

Costas has co-authored the study on Enhancing The National Legal Framework In Ukraine For Protecting The Human Rights Of Internally Displaced Persons.

Publication of the baseline analysis “Enhancing the National Legal Framework in Ukraine for Protecting the Human Rights of IDPs”

©Cover photo: Anastasia Vlasova

The baseline analysis “Enhancing the National Legal Framework in Ukraine for Protecting the Human Rights of IDPs” was prepared in the framework of the Council of Europe Project “Strengthening the Human Rights Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in Ukraine”.  The paper was produced as a comprehensive analysis of 21 themes on internal displacement covering relevant international, Council of Europe and Ukrainian standards.

This study was prepared by the Council of Europe international and national experts, including Ms Erin Mooney, an international expert on internal displacement, who led and coordinated the research team; Mr Yevgen Gerasymenko, Ms Olga Morkova, and Mr Sergiy Zayets, Ukrainian legal experts who drafted the analysis of national legislation; while the analysis of Council of Europe standards was drafted by Barbara McCallin as well as researchers and experts from the Advocacy Centre on Council of Europe Standards (ACCESS): Filip Chraska, Evgenia Giakoumopoulou and Costas Paraskevas.

Find out more and download the study in English or Ukrainian here.

Seminar on the European Social Charter and the Collective Complaints Procedure

25 November 2016: Belgrade, Serbia

On 25 November, ACCESS took part in a seminar on the European Social Charter and the Collective Complaints Procedure, delivering a presentation on the role of civil society organizations and the many innovative features of the Collective Complaints Procedure. 

Some of the questions addressed by Antonina Vykhrest, Co-Director of ACCESS during the presentation and in a subsequent exchange with Serbian civil society organizations included: 

  • Which INGOs can submit collective complaints to the European Social Charter?
  • Which countries have ratified the collective complaints protocol?
  • What advantages are there to the collective complaints procedure for NGOs and States?
  • What are the examples of successful national impact achieved as a result of the decision of the European Committee on Social Rights?


The European Social Charter adopted by the Council of Europe in 1961, is the social and economic rights instrument in Europe, sometimes referred to as the Social Constitution of Europe. It is a democratic mechanism towards sustainable social and economic development in the Council of Europe member States. A complement to the European Convention on Human Rights, it covers a wide range of rights such as the right to education, health, housing and non-discrimination, with a particular focus on the rights of vulnerable persons such as migrants, persons with disabilities, Roma, children and the elderly. 

European civil society has a critical role to play in promoting the Charter’s implementation. The Collective Complaints Procedure of the Charter presents an especially important and useful tool for NGOs working with vulnerable populations or social rights more broadly.

The event was organized by the Council of Europe Department of the European Social Charter in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Veteran and Social Affairs of Serbia. It was attended by representatives of Serbian institutions working on social rights, including representatives of national civil society.

Other speeches and interventions included that of François Vandamme, member of the European Committee for Social Rights; Riccardo Priore, CoE Department of the European Social Charter Department; Ivan Sekulović, General Manager, Social Inclusion and Poverty Reduction Unit, Government of Serbia; Peter Verhaeghe, Policy and Advocacy Officer, Caritas Europa; Pim Fischer, Lawyer and Representative of Defence for Children International (DCI).

For more information on the event, the program, and the European Social Charter please see the website of the European Social Charter here.

The Regional Forum “Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons: National and Regional Responses” in Dnipro on 14 and 15 July 2016

On 14 and 15 July 2016, ACCESS’ director, Evgenia Giakoumopoulou was invited to speak at the Regional Forum “Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons: National and Regional Responses” organised by the Council of Europe Project “Strengthening the Human Rights Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in Ukraine” in close cooperation with the Dnipropetrovsk Regional State Administration. 

‘Prominent international experts Ms Erin Mooney, chief editor and co-author of “Enhancing the National Legal Framework in Ukraine for Protecting the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons” (Canada), Ms Evgenia Giakoumopoulou, Executive Director of the Advocacy Centre on Council of Europe Standards (France), Ms Mariam Giorgobiani, Associate Professor at “Sukhishvili” Teaching University (Georgia), Mr Massimo Moratti, Protection Manager with the Danish Rrefugee Council in Serbia shared their experiences and good practices from Council of Europe member states in responding to internal displacement. Along with national experts and key speakers they also made valuable comments and contributions to three working groups devoted to:

  • Applicability of the European Court of Human Rights Case-Law and Council of Europe Standards in Protecting the Rights of IDPs in Ukraine;
  • Recent Developments in Legislation Related to IDPs Rights and Social Payments: Regional Trends;
  • Models of Compensations for Population Affected by Armed Conflict.

>>> Find out more about the event here

Torture prevention – latest issues of the CoE newsletter

As of January 2016, ACCESS is the editor of the European NPM Newsletter, which is published on bi-monthly basis by the Council of Europe.

The European NPM Newsletter is a review of information deemed relevant for National Preventive Mechanisms against torture (NPMs) in the Council of Europe region. Initially the publication of the European NPM Newsletter was part of the “European NPM Project” (2010-2012), which was funded by a joint European Union – Council of Europe Project entitled the “Peer-to-Peer II Project”. The purpose of the Newsletter is to keep the NPMs aware on an on-going basis of developments regarding their community and thus to nurture an active network of European NPMs.

The Newsletter is published in English and Russian.

ACCESS developed a new format, which aims to put forward the thematic discussions and the news from the NPMs, while the letter is otherwise intended to be used as a reference tool, with an increased provision of links. Members and experts of the European NPM Network are asked to choose a theme and to share their opinions and experiences on this topic. We will summarise the responses and the key trends.

Read the latest newsletters:

Strasbourg pride – 11 June 2016

ACCESS’ team stood with their Council of Europe colleagues and friends to march through Strasbourg as we celebrated diversity and equality. A beautiful and colourful event, which proudly sent out the message: “liberté, égalité, visibilité”!

International Conference on migration in Nafplion (Greece), 27-28 May 2016

Migrant camp at Hungarian border, Harms/CC-BY-SA 2.0

“The protection of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants – Lessons learnt from the recent crisis and perspectives for coordinated action of international organisations”
International Conference in Nafplion (Greece), 27-28 May 2016

As the summer begins and new waves of refugees are expected to reach Europe’s shores to seek protection, and while we witness the chaotic implementation of the EU-Turkey deal, this event offered a platform for urgently needed discussions on a solution through international coordination and cooperation. The conference was attended by several high-level representatives of the CoE, including Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland, and Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees Tomáš Boček.

Read the Secretary General’s speech here.

Trainings in Kyiv and Kramatorsk

4-7 June 2016 – ACCESS had the honour and pleasure to participate in 2 seminars in Kyiv and Kramatorsk (Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine) to train lawyers and judges on the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) under the CoE standards and the case-law of the ECtHR. This turned out a truly inspiring and humbling experience, training dedicated legal practitioners, for the most part IDPs themselves, and meeting the CoE’s regional coordinators for the IDPs project, as well as the staff of the OSCE monitoring mission in Ukraine covering the conflict.

Find our more about the Council of Europe trainings for lawyers in Kyiv here.

Find out more about the OSCE seminar here.