Council of Europe defines “Political Prisoner”

Very quietly and without much fanfare, on Thursday the Council of Europe (PACE) eventually committed itself to a legal definition of who can be classified as a “political prisoner”.

Needless to say it will have some ramifications for all CoE member states as well as the ECfHR, be those ramification great or small.

It necessarily has ramifications on Ukraine with Ms Tymoshenko’s appeal soon to be heard regarding her imprisonment over “misuse of office”.

The parameters set to define a political prisoner are thus:

“A person deprived of his or her personal liberty is to be regarded as a ‘political prisoner’:

a. 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, freedom of assembly and association;

b. if the detention has been imposed for purely political reasons without connection to any offence;

c. 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;

d. if, for political motives, he or she is detained in a discriminatory manner as compared to other persons; or,

e. if the detention is the result of proceedings which were clearly unfair and this appears to be connected with political motives of the authorities.”

The full statement from the Council of Europe is here.