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Estonia: Debate Delayed On Commitments To Council of Europe Assembly

Prague, 2 September 1996 (RFE/RL) -- The Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly will almost certainly not debate later this month a controversial report on Estonia's honoring of commitments made when it became a member of the Strasbourg-based organization three years ago.

The decision to put off debate and a vote on the report was made this morning at a Paris meeting of the parliamentary assembly's committee on judicial affairs and human rights. The issue had been inscribed on the assembly's draft agenda.

The full assembly is due to hold its week-long autumn session in Strasbourg starting September 23. The assembly seldom reverses a decision of its committees.

The confidential report, said to be critical of Estonia, was written by German conservative Rudolf Bindig, who last visited the country seven months ago. At least two drafts of his report were found to be "tendentious" by Tunne Kelam, an Estonian member of the committee.

Kelam told the Baltic News Service that the document ignored "positive" developments in Estonia and that its criticism of Estonia's failure to formally abolish the death penalty was unjustified. He also said he could not accept the report's final recommendation that the Council of Europe continue monitoring human rights implementation in Estonia.

Bindig told an RFE/RL correspondent that his work over the past few years as rapporteur on Estonia for the committee had always been "objective and balanced."