At the sitting of 18 November 2002 the President of Parliament announced that he had received a request for waiver of the immunity of Mr Mogens N.J. Camre, forwarded by the Danish Minister for European Affairs on 30 October 2002 at the request of the Danish Ministry of Justice, and that he had referred it to the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market pursuant to Rule 6(2) of the Rules of Procedure.
The committee appointed Neil MacCormick rapporteur at its meeting of 3 December 2002.
At its meeting of 25 March 2003 it heard Mr Mogens N.J. Camre pursuant to Rule 6a(3) and held an exchange of views on the reasons for and against the waiver of immunity.
It considered the draft report at its meeting of 17 June 2003 and adopted the proposal for a decision unanimously.
The following were present for the vote: Willi Rothley, acting chairman; Ioannis Koukiadis , vice-chairman; Neil MacCormick, rapporteur; Ulla Maija Aaltonen, Paolo Bartolozzi, Bert Doorn, Francesco Fiori (for Janelly Fourtou, pursuant to Rule 153(2)), Evelyne Gebhardt, Fiorella Ghilardotti, Malcolm Harbour, Kurt Lechner, Manuel Medina Ortega, Stefano Zappalà and François Zimeray.
The report was tabled on 19 June 2003.
PROPOSAL FOR A EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT DECISION
on the request for waiver of the immunity of Mr Mogens N.J. Camre (2002/2249(IMM))
The European Parliament,
- having received a request for waiver of the immunity of Mr Mogens N.J. Camre, forwarded by the Danish Minister for European Affairs on 30 October 2002 and announced in plenary sitting on 18 November 2002,
- having regard to Articles 9 and 10 of the Protocol on the Privileges and Immunities of the European Communities of 8 April 1965, and to Article 4(2) of the Act concerning the Election of Representatives to the European Parliament by direct universal suffrage of 20 September 1976,
- having regard to the judgments of the Court of Justice of the European Communities of 12 May 1964 and 10 July 1986(1),
- having regard to Section 57 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Denmark,
- having regard to Rules 6 and 6a of its Rules of Procedure,
- having regard to the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market (A5-0243/2003),
1. Decides not to waive the immunity of Mr Mogens N.J. Camre;
2. Instructs its President immediately to forward this decision and the report of its committee to the Danish Minister for European Affairs for transmission to the appropriate authority.
See Case 101/63 Wagner v Fohrmann and Krier  ECR 399 and Case 149/85 Wybot v Faure  ECR 2403.
1. At the sitting of 18 November 2002, the President of the European Parliament announced that he had received a request for waiver of the parliamentary immunity of Mr Mogens N.J. Camre from the appropriate Danish authorities.
The request, which originated with the Danish Public Prosecutor, relates to the parliamentary immunity of Mr Camre on the ground that he is to be prosecuted for the offence of making statements constituting derisory and humiliating treatment of a group of people, namely Muslims, contrary to the first paragraph of section 226 b of the Danish Criminal Code, and having the nature of a propaganda activity contrary to the second paragraph of that provision.
The Public Prosecutor states that - according to complaints laid by the Racial Discrimination Documentation and Advisory Centre, the Danish Civil Rights Association and several private individuals - Mr Camre made a speech containing the following passage at the national conference of Dansk Folkeparti (Danish People’s Party) held on 15-16 September 2001 in Idrættens Hus, Vejle (Denmark):
“All the countries of the West are infiltrated by Muslims – and some of them speak nicely to us while they are waiting to become sufficiently numerous to get rid of us as they have done in Sudan, Indonesia, Nigeria and the Balkans.”
“There is a direct link between the despicable rapist, the man who circumcises his daughter and forces his wife to wear a headscarf, and the person who out of religious fanaticism flies a passenger plane into the World Trade Center. What they have in common is hatred of other people – a hatred founded on a sick ideology.”
The conference was attended by some 500 delegates and the press. A draft of the speech containing the words “All the countries of the West are infiltrated by Muslims – and some of them speak nicely to us while they are waiting to become sufficiently numerous to kill us.” was distributed to the press before the conference took place and the final text was published on the party's website. The speech was widely reported in the press.
2. For further and better particulars of the charges made against Mr Camre, reference is made to document PE 324.181.
II.JUSTIFICATION OF THE PROPOSED DECISION
Given that Mr Camre is a Danish Member and committed the alleged criminal acts at and in connection with a conference of his national political party in Denmark, Article 9 of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities does not apply. That absolute immunity applies only to "opinions expressed or votes cast by [Members] in the performance of their duties". Although it is possible to conceive of circumstances in which Article 9 might apply to a Member in his own country (delegation, sitting of Parliament or meeting of one of its committees, group meeting, etc), a conference of a national political party is not such a circumstance, particularly since Parliament has taken the approach of construing the expression "performance of [Members'] duties" narrowly.
Consequently, Article 10(a) of the Protocol must apply. It provides that "[d]uring the sessions of the European Parliament, its members shall enjoy ... in the territory of their own State, the immunities accorded to members of their parliament".
Under section 57 of the Danish Constitution:
No Member of the Folketing can without its consent be prosecuted or subjected to imprisonment of any kind, unless he is caught in flagrante delicto. No Member of the Folketing can without the consent of the Folketing be held accountable outside the Folketing for his statements in the same.
It seems that the second sentence of section 57 protects not only oral statements by Members during debates but also their written contributions in proposals and reports, and so on. There is a firm assumption that the term 'in the Folketing' is not to be construed as a purely geographical criterion but that protection covers parliamentary freedom of speech in connection with the performance of the duties of a Member of the Folketing. Thus it covers statements made by Members in committees and commissions dealing with parliamentary matters as well as statements concerning parliamentary matters made during meetings of parliamentary party groups. Conversely, it appears that section 57 does not cover statements made at political meetings, to the press or on radio or television.
It would appear that the Folketing follows the practice that consent is always granted for criminal prosecution, under the first sentence of section 57 of the Constitution, while it is practically speaking never granted for an application to hold a Member accountable for statements in the House under the second sentence of that same provision.
As far as the European Parliament is concerned, although point (a) of the first paragraph of Article 10 of the Protocol refers to the immunities accorded to members of the relevant national parliament, the European Parliament may create its own principles, thereby creating what may be termed "case law".
Furthermore, whereas members of the national parliament and Members of the European Parliament from the Member State in question enjoy the same immunities, whether to waive the immunity in question depends on the European Parliament. The abovementioned principles or case law should have the effect of establishing a coherent concept of European parliamentary immunity which, in principle, should be independent of the various practices of the national parliaments. Otherwise there would be differences in treatment as between MEPs depending on their nationality. Consequently, whereas regard is had to whether immunity exists under national law, the European Parliament applies its own consistent principles in deciding whether to waive it.
Lastly, Parliament has consistently held that it is a fundamental principle that in all cases in which the acts of which the Member stands accused form part of his or her political activity or are directly related to such activity, immunity will not be waived.
Applying these principles, your rapporteur finds that the allegedly unlawful statements made by Mr Camre were made in the exercise of his freedom of speech as part of his activity as a Member of Parliament. There is no doubt that they concerned a matter of genuine public concern and interest and that prosecution might affect the Member's independence and capacity to speak.
As far as the content of the statements is concerned, your rapporteur notes that it is often stated in the reports that the expression of opinion should not constitute an incitement to hatred, defamation or a violation of fundamental human rights or an attack on the honour or reputation of groups or individuals. Notwithstanding this, it must be said that Parliament has consistently adopted a very liberal attitude to expressions of opinion made in the political arena and it is suggested that there is a tradition of robust political debate in Denmark. Furthermore, although there is no evidence of any fumus persecutionis, there has been some comment in the Danish press to the effect that the prosecution is unusual.
Consequently, without in any way endorsing the content of the statements made by Mr Camre, your rapporteur considers that, in the light of the principles which Parliament has consistently applied in cases of this kind, Mr Camre's case falls within Article 10 of the Protocol on Privileges and Immunities of the European Communities of 8 April 1965.
In view of the foregoing considerations, the Committee on Legal Affairs and the Internal Market, having considered in accordance with Rule 6a of the Rules of Procedure the arguments in favour of adopting or rejecting the request for waiver of immunity, recommends that Parliament:
- decline to waive the immunity of Mr Mogens N.J. Camre.