Strong FIDH expectations at the OSCE in Warsaw

FIDH delegation is present at the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting (HDIM) at the OSCE in Warsaw, 23 September - 2 October 2014. The team includes its two Vice-Presidents, Ales Bialiatski from Belarus and Tolekan Ismailova from Kyrgyzstan, the Deputy Secretary General Artak Kirakosyan from Armenia and ten member organisations from various countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The program also includes the activities run by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (joint FIDH-OMCT programme).

Advocacy meetings

Ales Bialiatski, released from a penal colony in Belarus only three months ago and the FIDH delegation has met the Swiss Chairmanship of the OSCE, several national delegations a as well as the new director of ODIHR, Michael Georg Link and his staff on political and human rights issues. They received joint FIDH/member organisations reports on Russia, Belarus, Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and discussed the most pressing problems in the region.

Oral intervention of the Observatory in HDIM plenary session

On 23 September afternoon, FIDH made an oral intervention in HDIM plenary on behalf of the Observatory (FIDH-OMCT joint programme), to deplore continued obstacles to human rights defenders’ activities in many countries of the OSCE area, where freedom of association and assembly remain curtailed, and where human rights activists are often arbitrarily detained, judicially harassed, threatened and intimidated.

Particular concern was expressed on the situation in Azerbaijan, Belarus, Hungary, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkey and Uzbekistan.

The Observatory welcomed the recent adoption of the OSCE/ODIHR Guidelines on human rights defenders, and called for the appointment of an OSCE Special Representative on HRDs, who should be in charge of monitoring the implementation of these commitments.

The full text of the Observatory contribution is available here.


23 September: "Assessing Human Rights Protection in Eastern European Disputed Entities: Abkhazia, Crimea, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, Transnistria"

On Tuesday 23 September, FIDH held a side event on "Assessing Human Rights Protection in Eastern European Disputed Entities: Abkhazia, Crimea, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia, Transnistria", with the participation of FIDH Vice-President Tolekan Ismailova, FIDH Secretary General Artak Kirakosyan, as well as partners from Crimea and Transnistria.

“The problem of human rights violations in disputed entities is so acute that we regret it is not discussed by all OSCE states at the HDIM plenary” - characterised the event Tolekan Ismailova. Indeed, the problem demands attention as in the disputed entities of Eastern Europe, 3.3 million people live in isolation. The potentially explosive contexts in which these territories exist has violated people’s right to life and security. Their disputed status has resulted in serious restrictions on freedom of movement, which in turn generates a wide range of other human rights challenges, such as securing an adequate standard of living (especially for IDPs), and accessing rights to health and education.

“The main thing we discuss here is impunity. Impunity creates further violence and makes any sustainable peace process impossible. The international community fails to address the legal vacuum which was created in these territories covering almost 50 000 km, and qualifies impunity and violence there as consequences of frozen conflicts. But impunity cannot be tolerated as a frozen problem.”,
stated Sacha Koulaeva, Head of Eastern Europe and Central Asia Desk at FIDH.

In the repressive context that characterises these entities, the very basic right of inhabitants to justice is often denied. National mechanisms are unavailable because de jure authorities have little if any leverage over de facto authorities. An absence of the rule of law and high levels of corruption render local laws and courts in the disputed entities largely ineffective. As those actors directly involved in the disputes have either no real authority to improve the situation or prefer to maintain the status quo, the international community must do more to protect human rights in these disputed entities.

Olga Skrypnyk, from the Center of Civil Education "Almenda" in Crimea noted that “After Crimea was annexed, the human rights situation has decreased dramatically. Within few months the civil society of Crimea was swept away, together with notions of freedom of expression, of association and of assembly. They simply do not exist in Crimea any longer.”

At this event, the FIDH presented its new report on ’Assessing Human Rights Protection in Eastern European Disputed Entities’, which will be officially published next week. Nicolae Buceatchi from Human Rights Fund, Transnistria, stated: "The report FIDH presents today is the final document of a unique seminar organised last April with human rights defenders from all 5 disputed entities of the region. It summarises our thoughts, analyses and most importantly our reality, and now gives us the opportunity to present it here, at the OSCE level".

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24 September: "Time for genuine implementation of the OSCE/ODIHR Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders!”

On Wednesday 24 September, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT joint programme) held a side-event entitled "Time for genuine implementation of the OSCE/IDIHR Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders!”. The OSCE/ODIHR Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders were launched under the Swiss Chairmanship of the OSCE in Bern, in June 2014. This instrument provides a solid corpus of recommendations based on existing international and regional law, standards and practices. They also call on all the OSCE Participating States to establish human rights defenders’ protection mechanisms both on their territories and in third countries, through their diplomatic representations.

Panelists included FIDH Vice-Presidents Ales Bialiatski (Belarus) and Tolekan Ismailova (Kyrgyzstan), as well as Inessa Sakhno (ADC “Memorial”, Russia), Olga Skrypnyk (“Almenda”, Ukraine), and Dinara Yunusova (daughter of detained human rights defender Leyla Yunus, Azerbaijan). For more information, see here.

Participants in the event outlined the persisting obstacles to their activities in their respective countries, and discussed ways to ensure genuine implementation and monitoring of the Guidelines throughout the OSCE region.

Dinara Yunus makes a moving statement about the conditions of detention of her parents, and calls for an intervention of the OSCE.

Thank you for giving me this opportunity to be here today and to speak out about my parents. My name is Dinara Yunus, I am the daughter of Leyla and Arif Yunus, who are prominent human rights defenders, peacemakers, and, in fact, historians by profession (read more (...))

Olga Skrypnyk urges the OSCE to create a mechanism to address the issue of human rights defenders in disputed zones such as Crimea and Eastern Ukraine

Inessa Sakhno recalls the forced liquidation of ADC Memorial in Russia and calls on the OSCE to struggle against the multiplication of “foreign agent” laws throughout the region

The current Swiss Presidency of the OSCE and the upcoming Serbian Presidency (speaking) commit to continue promoting the protection of human rights defenders in the course of their mandates.

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24 September: “Pervasive violations of political, economic and social rights in Belarus”

The same evening, the side-event on “Pervasive violations of political, economic and social rights in Belarus” was organised jointly by FIDH and its member organisation in Belarus.

In Belarus, freedom of association and assembly is systematically violated, whilst other political and civil rights, as well as workers’ rights are widely denied, stated FIDH and Viasna.

At this side-event, Ales Bialiatski, the recently released Vice-President of FIDH and President of HRC Viasna, gave an overview of the current situation in Belarus.

Valentsin Stefanovic presented the problem of arbitrary preventive detention, used on a large scale in Belarus, as outlined in the new FIDH-HRC ’Viasna’ joint report ’Arbitrary Preventive Detention of Activists in Belarus’, which was made public during this side event.

While President Lukashenko aims to create the image of Belarus as a ’last remaining socialist paradise’, forced labour is widespread in various sectors and various forms, as evidenced in the FIDH-HRC ’Viasna’ report ’Forced labour and pervasive violations of workers’ rights in Belarus’, presented during the event.

The death penalty is still practised in Belarus in violation of both international and national human rights standards. Two weeks before the 12th World Day Against the Death Penalty, Andrei Paluda assessed the legal short-comings of this practicecalled for its abolition in behalf of both organisations and of the campaign Human Rights Defenders Against the Death Penalty which he represents.

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