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“The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned about the fate of Saparmamed Nepeskuliev, an independent journalist and activist who is still unaccounted for following his arrest near the seaport town of Turkmenbashi (formerly Krasnovodsk) in Turkmenistan on 7 July 2015”, said Ivar Dale, Senior advisor in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC). “On the international level, the Turkmen government has made promises to improve the human rights situation in the country. Yet, time and again, we see evidence of the opposite happening. Nepeskuliev’s arrest is yet another grave example of this. He must be released immediately.”
Together with six other international human rights organisations, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee today sent a letter to the Prosecutor General of Kazakhstan, Askhat Daulbaev. The letter concerns a recent case of intimidation, pressure and obstruction of the work of lawyer Snezhanna Kim in Kostanay, Kazakhstan.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the harsh sentences against the Azerbaijani human rights defenders Leila and Arif Yunus. If the verdicts are not nullified immediately, then it is time to impose targeted sanctions against Azerbaijan´s main human rights perpetrators.
Seniorrådgiver i Den norske Helsingforskomité Aage Borchgrevink var i mai i år på en omfattende reportasjereise i Øst-Ukraina. Skildringene hans fra reisen ble publisert i Dagbladet og Klassekampen. Nedenfor finner du lenker til artiklene i fulltekst, og til Dagbladets nettutgave. For å lese artiklene på nett trenger du Dagbladet+ abonnement.
I et brev til Utenriksminister Børge Brende ber Helsingforskomiteen norske myndigheter gjøre rede for hva den har gjort for seks usbekiske asylsøkere, som etter endelig avslag på sin asylsøknad ble returnert til hjemlandet. Det ble senere kjent at alle seks var blitt dømt til lange fengselsstraffer og høyst sannsynlig torturert. UNE har senere stanset tvangsreturer til Usbekistan.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee publishes a new report today, focusing on how universities can play a positive role in peacebuilding processes in the Western Balkans.
Last night, on 23 June, the Summer 2015 session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) adopted the new monitoring report on Azerbaijan, The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan, Resolution 2062 (2015). From a relatively weak draft presented by the co-rapporteurs from Spain and Poland, the report was significantly improved by the adoption of several important amendments during the session. Most significantly, the report now includes a demand for the release of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, mentioning several of them by name.
Thousands of demonstrators gathered yesterday in Armenias capital Yerevan to protest against state regulators decision to raise electricity prices by 16 %. This morning the Armenian police forcefully dispersed the demonstrations, leaving 18 persons injured.
A new list of political prisoners in Russia has just been published by Memorial Human Rights Centre. The list now comprises 50 names, as compared to the 46 which were included in the list published in October last year. 10 people have been released, but 14 have been arrested. None of the political prisoners were acquitted, amnestied or pardoned during this time.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee supports a letter sent to the President of the European Council Mr. Donal Tusk, sent from the Sports for Rights campaign and supported by members of the European Parliament, urging Mr. Tusk to postpone his planned visit to Azerbaijan this week, and to call for the immediate and unconditional release of the country´s jailed journalists and human reights defenders.
Today is the official opening of the European Games in Baku. To mark the opening ceremony, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, together with other organisations in the Human Rights House Oslo, is demanding the unconditional release of the country´s jailed journalists, human rights defenders and activists.
The outcome of the 7 June 2015 Parliamentary Elections in Turkey sends a strong signal that the people of the country do not favour strengthening the power of President Recep Tayyip Erdogen’s office at the expense of accountability and checks and balances, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
The NHC supports a letter sent yesterday to the Council of Europe and the OSCE urging them not to support proposed constitutional amendments that would strengthen the incumbent president's position in Armenia.
The office of the Joint Mobile Group in Grozny, Chechnya, was earlier today on 3 June attacked by a group of masked men.
Human Rights House Foundation, Den norske Helsingforskomitè og Norsk PEN inviterer til lukket norgespremiere på Erling Borgens
dokumentar om menneskerettighetsforkjemperen Ales Bialiatski:
Hviterussland: Europas siste diktatur
Regi: Erling Borgen
Produsert for DR2/NRK av Borgen & Heinemann. (2015)
Tid: Onsdag 10. juni kl 17.00-18.30
Sted: Cinemateket, Tancred
A new list of political prisoners in Azerbaijan has just been published. The list now comprises of 80 names, as compared to the 98 which were included in the list published in August last year. Although this means that there have been some very welcome releases, the Government of Azerbaijan continues its policy of imprisoning what they consider opponents. The last few weeks, prominent human rights defenders Rasul Jafarov and Intigam Aliyev were convicted to many years' prison. In 2014, Political Prisoners in Azerbaijan received the Sakharov Freedom Award from NHC.
The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), of which NHC is a foundig member, has issued a statement today strongly protesting severe harrassment and intimidation of election observers from the Russian election observer organisation GOLOS.
On 26 April 2015 presidential elections were held in Kazakhstan. Incumbent Nursultan Nazarbayev, in office since 1991, expectedly won the race with an official 97.7 % of the vote, in an election characterized by lack of genuine choice.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is among numerous NGOs who demand the release of imprisoned human rights defenders, journalists and activists all considered political prisoners in Azerbaijan. The call comes after the human rights defender Rasul Jafarov and human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev were sentenced to 6,5 and 7,5 years respectively in Baku. The charges against them were trumped up and politically motivated, their trials deeply flawed.
Young, prominent and dedicated human rights defender Rasul Jafarov, was convicted to six and a half years in prison in a Baku, Azerbaijan court today. -It is hardly news anymore that human rights defenders are handed long prison sentences in Azerbaijan, where punishing the dissent on bogus charges has become commonplace for the government in past years, Secretary General Bjørn Engesland says.
The EU leaders should prominently address human rights issues with Kyrgyzstan’s President Almazbek Atambayev, who is in Brussels for meetings on 26-27 March, and insist that he use his powers to ensure compliance with the country’s international human rights obligations.
On 24 March, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) sent a letter to the President and the Government of Turkey, calling for support to the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey (HRFT).
18 March the Norwegian Helsinki Committee sent a letter to the Latvian Prime Minister Mrs. Laimdota Straujuma, expressing our concern that the Latvian organisation Association Antiglobālisti attempt to use legal loopholes to prevent EuroPride from taking place in Riga in 2015. The loophole is of an administrative nature.
Policy Paper 1/2015:
Den norske Helsingforskomité presenterer i dag et Policy Paper som argumenterer for at Norge bør etablere en global Magnitskij-mekanisme.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee today publishes a new report on the right to public protest in Kazakhstan, an essential part of the country’s obligation to ensure Freedom of Assembly and Association.
Fritt ords pressepris for Øst-Europa:
Stiftelsen Fritt Ords og ZEIT-Stiftungs pressepriser til Russland og Øst-Europa for 2015 går til seks modige journalister og medier fra Russland, Ukraina og Georgia som ikke lar seg skremme av sensur og represalier. To av årets prisvinnere er nominert av Den norske Helsingforskomité.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was shocked and saddened to learn of the assassination of Tajik opposition leader Umarali Kuvatov, who was shot at close range by an unknown person outside his home in Istanbul, Turkey, on the evening of 5 March. Kuvatov was in the presence of his wife and children when he was killed by a gunshot to the head.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee visited Tajikistan last week to gain an impression of the climate in which the 1 March parliamentary elections were carried out. With 54 out of 63 seats in parliament, the ruling party has cemented the parliament's role as merely a rubber stamp body for the president. The authorities have targeted especially the Islamic Revival Party during the last year. The state-owned propaganda machinery has attacked and discredited the party and its members, linking it to extremism and terrorism among other things. Furthermore several of the party's candidates have been disqualified on questionable grounds and its campaigning material has been blocked.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is saddened and shocked by the news of the murder of Russia’s prominent opposition politician
Boris Nemtsov, shot dead the in the heart of Moscow in the late evening of 27 February.
– The murder of Boris Nemtsov must be independently and transparently investigated and the people responsible be brought to justice, whether they pulled the trigger or ordered the killing, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. – We express our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Boris Nemtsov.
Statement issued by International Partnership for Human Rights, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and Kazakhstan International
Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law, 27 February 2015.
The Almaty City Court yesterday upheld the closure of the outspoken ADAM bol magazine over an article about the conflict in Ukraine. We condemn this decision as another serious blow to freedom of expression and media pluralism in Kazakhstan.
Together with 46 other international organisations, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has signed a letter sent yesterday to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Yury Ya. Chaika, where we appeal to take all necessary measures to free environmental defender Evgeny G. Vitishko (born July 3, 1973) immediately and unconditionally; to initiate legal proceedings regarding the wrongful conviction of Evgeny Vitishko; hold those responsible for his conviction legally accountable; and clarify the withdrawal by the Office of Prosecutor General of the request to vacate the decision of the Tuapse city court of Krasnodar Krai from December 12, 2013 to revoke the suspended sentence and transfer Evgeny Vitishko to a penal settlement colony. We also ask you to investigate the facts of the violation of water and forest laws in Bzhid township (Tuapse District, Krasnodar Krai).
HRHW film festival:
- Western democracies should impose targeted sanctions against the Azerbaijani elite. Statements of concerns from European leaders are only benefitting the Aliyev regime said Vugar Gojayev, human rights defender in exile and NHC project coordinator in the discussion after the screening of Amazing Azerbaijan at the Human Rights Human Wrongs film festival on Saturday.
The ceasefire agreement, which entered into force as of Sunday 15 February, is good news for the civilian population in the Donbass region”, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General. – However, it is already marred by violations and important questions remain unresolved. There are also serious flaws with the agreement. – The loser after nearly a year of hostilities is the civilian population in Eastern Ukraine who have seen their houses, economy, infrastructure and key public institutions shot to pieces. The human rights situation was far from perfect before the armed conflict, but there is no doubt that it has become much worse in the rebel-controlled areas.
The government of Azerbaijan claims it supports religious tolerance but in reality seriously restricts freedom of religion or belief. It uses a tolerance facade and denials of reality to camouflage serious human rights violations.
The Memorial lawyer Murad Magomedov was attacked yesterday, February 4, and beaten by five men outside the Dagestan Supreme Court building in Makhachkala, Dagestan. He sustained severe head injuries and is in critical condition in hospital, unable to explain the details of what happened to him. Murad Magomadov had been defending villagers of the Vremennyi village in Dagestan who were lost everything during a so-called counter terrorism operation autumn 2014.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) Freedom of Belief Initiative outlines in this report, covering the period from July 2013 to June 2014, that Turkey needs to take comprehensive steps in order to bring legislation and practice in line with international human rights law.
Angrepet 7. januar 2015 mot redaksjonen til det satiriske magasinet Charlie Hebdo, som resulterte i 12 drepte og like mange sårede, reiser på nytt debatter om effektiv beskyttelse mot terrorhandlinger og hvordan vi kan verne ytringsfriheten når kontroversielle ytringer blir møtt med vold og drap. – Angrepet på de ansatte i Charlie Hebdo var et angrep på ytringsfriheten. Det var karikaturtegninger, satire og religions- og samfunnskritikk som var magasinets varemerke. Alt tyder på at angrepet var en hevn for karikaturer med satirisk brodd mot islam, sier Bjørn Engesland, generalsekretær i Den norske Helsingforskomité.
Freedom of religion or belief is under threat together with other fundamental rights in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, according to a fresh NHC and Forum 18 report launched in Russian and English today.
Repression in Azerbaijan must stop:
On Friday 5 December, another prominent civil society figure was arrested in Azerbaijan as a Baku court authorized investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova's pre-trial detention for two months on bogus charges of "inciting suicide". This shows that there is no end to the assault on independent voices by the government of this oil rich country and provides further proof of its disregard for founding values of the Council of Europe and its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Civil Solidarity Platform calls for the supsension of Azerbaijan for the Council of Europe in a statement Saturday 6 December.
NHC joins a number of civil society organisations from the OSCE region in protesting the recent initiative of Tajikistan’s government to regulate and restrict access of NGOs to financial assistance from foreign and international sources.
To år etter at den såkalte «loven om utenlandske agenter» trådte i kraft, er Den norske Helsingforskomité en av organisasjonene som har levert et åpent brev til Russlands president Vladimir Putin. I brevet, som ble overlevert av Amnesty International Moskva, krever vi at loven blir opphevet. Det er hele 148 organisasjoner fra 32 land som har skrevet under på dette kravet.
Annual roundtable event on the right to freedom of religion or belief was organised by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Freedom of Belief Initiative in Istanbul. This year’s roundtable discussion focused on the general trends and issues related to religious freedom in Turkey, based on the Monitoring Report on the Right to Freedom of Religion or Belief – July 2013-June 2014. The second part of the discussion centred on the intersection between the right to freedom of religion or belief and the right to education.
Sakharov Freedom Award 2014:
The Sakharov Freedom Award 2014 ceremony was a tribute to the brave political prisoners in Azerbaijan. Relatives of the laureates received the award in an emotional ceremony at Hotel Bristol on 13 November.
Sakharov Freedom Award Seminar 2014:
Yesterday's Sakharov Freedom Award seminar 2014 at the House of Literature in Oslo discussed what intergovernmental organizations like the Council of Europe, states like Norway, businesses like Statoil, and human rights organizations can do with the ongoing crackdown on civil society in Azerbaijan and the imprisonment of human rights activists, journalists, political activists on political grounds.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee(NHC), The Norwegian LGBT Organization (LLH) and Amnesty International Norway expressed concern for the situation for LGBTI persons in Macedonia in a letter sent to Nikola Gruevski, Prime Minister of Macedonia, 6 November 2014.
Together with the Rafto Foundation, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee is hosting the seminar "Protecting freedom of expression and privacy on the internet: What should be the response of the human rights community to the new wave of internet control in Russia and in other countries?"
Civil society organisation OPORA and Committee of Voters of Ukraine have concluded that the early parliamentary elections in Ukraine did not violate international standards and Ukrainian law in any serious way. Although a large number of violations were registered both during the election campaign and on election day, they did not influence the result of the elections.
In Ukraine, the early elections to Verkhavna Rada (Parliament) is underway, and by 15.00 o'clock no serious incidents have been reported. In occupied Crimea and in large parts of Eastern Luhansk and Donetsk, it is not possible to organise elections, and some 4.5 million out of a total of 35 million voters are unable to cast their ballot today. Norwegian Helsinki Committee is in Kyiv to observe the elections.
Side event OFF:
Together with the London based organisation Fair Trials International, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee organized a breakfast seminar tuesday at the Hotel Bristol as a side event to the Oslo Freedom Forum, discussing how INTERPOL is being abused by dictatorships.
The Arctic and Barents Regions: Cooperation, Human Rights, and Security Challenges. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is co-organizing the Nordic Forum for Security Policy 2014 together with the Finnish Committee for European Security (STETE), the Swedish OSCE-network (OSSE-nätverket and the University of Tromsø. The Forum wil take place in Tromsø, at the University of Tromsø from 12-14 November. You can register as a participant below.
Early parliamentary elections in Ukraine:
The very important early parliamentary elections in Ukraine on 26 October will be monitored by thousands of domestic observers. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is in Kiev on behalf of the European Platform for Democratic Elections to support domestic observers OPORA and Committee of Voters Ukraine at an international press center in Kyiv.
On 15 October 2014, a bill which proposes criminal and administrative liability for «formation of a positive attitude to non-traditional forms of sexual relations» passed its first reading in the Kyrgyz Parliament. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is concerned about the consequences that this bill may have for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans persons (LGBT) in the Kyrgyz Republic, if adopted.
INTERPOL is the world's largest policing organisation, but it is being abused by countries around the world to persecute refugees, journalists & peaceful political demonstrators.
Markering 7. oktober:
Tirsdag 7. oktober er en symboltung dag i Russland. Det er åtte år siden den kritiske gravejournalisten Anna Politkovskaya ble drept og det er også bursdagen til president Vladimir Putin. I den forbindelse kommer Amnesty, LLH og Helsingforskomiteen til å holde en solidaritetsmarkering foran Stortinget kl 12-13, og foran den russiske ambassaden 13.30-14. Du er velkommen!
Anna Politkovskaya Seminar 2014:
Welcome to the Anna Politkovskaya Seminar 2014: The anatomy of media propaganda in Russia.
Venue: House of literature, Amalie Skram, Wergelandsveien 29
Time: Wednesday 15 October 2014, 14:00-16:15
Snacks, coffee and tea will be served
Sakharov frihetspris 2014:
Helsingforskomiteen gir Andrej Sakharovs Frihetspris 2014 til politiske fanger i Aserbajdsjan. De utviser mot og stor innsats i å fremme verdighet, demokratiske verdier og menneskerettigheter. Aserbajdsjan er et europeisk land som utvikler seg stadig mer i retning av et diktatur. Prisen tildeles dem alle. Det er et trist faktum at det er alt for mange av dem til at vi kan nevne hver og én.
Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2014:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is very pleased to learn that the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2014 has been awarded to the renowned Azerbaijani independent election observer and human rights defender Anar Mammadli.
Gårsdagens fullsatte debattmøte på Litteraturhuset i regi av Norsk PEN og Den norske Helsingforskomité viste et sterk engasjement rundt tildelingen av Ibsenprisen 2014 til Peter Handke. Innleggene og paneldebatten kan ses i sin helhet under.
Moscow City Court:
A decision by the Moscow City Court published on 8 September 2014 concludes that the Association Golos, an election watchdog, and its former executive director Lilia Shibanova, have not violated the law on “foreign agents”. Golos had refused to register as a “foreign agent”, which is required by the law for organizations that receive foreign funding and engage in loosely defined political activities. – This is an important decision and indeed good news for Golos, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Lower courts found Golos in breach of the law because of receiving our Sakharov Freedom Award in 2012. The Moscow City Court, however, said that since Golos did not receive the 10 000 US Dollar prize money, it was not obliged to register. The ruling is a serious defeat for the Ministry of Justice.
Gisseldramaet i Beslan, Nord-Ossetia 1.-3. september 2004 i barneskole nummer 1 kostet minst 385 menneskeliv, ifølge russiske myndigheter. Blant de drepte var 334 gisler, og 186 av dem var barn. – Dessverre er Beslan symptomatisk for russiske myndigheters holdning til menneskeliv, sier Bjørn Engesland, generalsekretær.
On occasion of the UN International Day of the Disappeared, which is on August 30, 2014, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee together with the Prove They Are Alive! campaign launch a video clip and press release to put the spotlight on the issue of enforced disappearances in Turkmenistan.
The brutal attack on the journalist Ilgar Nasibov, in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan, is an outrage, and Azerbaijan’s authorities should ensure a prompt, effective and impartial investigation, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights House Foundation, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, People in Need, Human Rights Watch, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, International Media Support, ARTICLE 19 and Reporters without borders said today.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is concerned after learning that the State Committee for National Security (GKNB) of Kyrgyzstan has sued an independent journalist based in Osh, Shokhrukh Saipov, following an article he published with the Ferghana News Agency in May 2014.
Policy Paper 6/2014:
The NHC presents our sixth policy paper of 2014. The so-called Foreign Agents Law has already hit hundreds of non-governmental organizations unwilling to register, and its chilling effect is no longer a prediction but a reality. The paper argues that the Foreign Agents Law has dire consequences for Russian civil society, violates human rights and should be repealed.
Azerbaijan's independent civil society has for a long time been engaged in a major effort to go through the lists of possible political prisoners in the country, to identify those that meet the criteria adopted by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. The list, containing as many as 98 names, was compiled under the leadership of Leyla Yunus and Rasul Jafarov. Both Leylas and Rasuls own names have been added to the list the last few weeks.
Update 12 August: The lawyer Intigam Aliyev was arrested Friday 8 August, and was the fourth human rights activist who in a short time have been detained in Azerbaijan. This means that in the two last weeks, four of the most prominent human rights defenders in Azerbaijan have been sent to prison, all under investigation for serious crimes and risking many years behind bars if convicted. The four have all been outspoken critics of the regime of President Ilham Aliyev, and by the move Azerbaijan once again shows a blatant contempt towards the European Convention on Human Rights. Despite this, Azerbaijan currently holds the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Council of Ministers.
On 2 August 2014 the prominent human rights defender Rasul Jafarov was arrested in Baku. Together with the Civic Solidarity Platform, a coalition of 60 human rights NGOs of the OSCE region, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee calls upon the authorities of Azerbaijan to release the human rights defender Rasul Jafarov and stop putting pressure on the civil society of the country. Read the statement in full below.
2. juli 2014. Amnesty Norge har med støtte fra Den norske Helsingforskomité og en rekke andre organisasjoner i Norge sendt et brev til statssekretær Bård Glad Pedersen der vi ber om at også de økonomiske, sosiale og kulturelle rettighetene vektlegges gjennom Stortingsmeldingen om menneskerettigheter i utenrikspolitikken.
On 17 June 2014, the Human Rights Committee of the Kyrgyz Parliament Zhogorku Kenesh approved a draft law that, if passed, will make the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transsexual (LGBT) people and activists more difficult.
As the world marks the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has received the tragic news of the death of Abdurasul Khudoynazarov, a 58-year old human rights activist from Uzbekistan.
Together with the other members and partners of the Human Rights House Network, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has sent
a letter to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, where we urge the Ukrainian authorities to refer situation on the internationally
recognised territory of Ukraine to the International Criminal Court (ICC) until the state becomes a member of the ICC by acceding
to the Rome Statute.
In the letter we also call upon the Ukrainian government to support the work of human rights NGOs, journalists, bloggers and other media, and aknowledge the important and legitimate role of human rights defenders in the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law as an essential component of ensuring their protection. In this important periode for the country, we also urge the Ukrainan government to ensure that the reform process in the country, as well as all dialogue about the future of the country, is inclusive and transparent, giving space to civil society.
Read the letter below.
- Dette er en gledens dag. At vår gode venn og kollega Ales Bialiatski endelig er løslatt fra fengsel gjør oss enormt glade, sier Bjørn Engesland i en kommentar til dagens nyhet fra Minsk. - Vi har vært bekymret for Ales' situasjon i fengselet, og tatt opp hans sak med både norske myndigheter og i internasjonale fora ved gjentatte anledninger. Vi er lettet over at Ales nå endelig kan gjenforenes med sin kone og barn i Minsk, fortsetter Engesland.
Policy Paper 5/2014:
The NHC presents our fifth policy paper of 2014. The policy paper shows how a Russian sponsored initiative at the UN Human Rights Council has been targeting core tenets of international human rights. The proponents of the initiative have camouflaged it as laying out new ways of promoting human rights. Traditional values of humankind are a tool to strengthen and underpin human rights at the local level, they claim. In reality, the initiative threatens to destroy consensus among the states of the world on how they should honor their human rights obligations.
Under to åpne seminarer under Europride 2014 inviterer LLH, Amnesty og Helsingforskomiteen 22. Juni ti av Øst-Europas mest fremtredende lhbt-aktivister til å fortelle om livet under antihomolovene – og om hvordan lhbt-personer blir trukket inn i en ny kald krig mellom Øst og Vest.
Over the last months, Armenian human rights activists have been increasingly subject to pressure and intimidation, and in many cases media is used actively to spread intolerance towards activists and the vulnerable groups they protect, in particular topics of LGBTI and gender. The NHC has responded to this development by joining local partners in an alternative report to the UPR on Armenia and an open statement addressing these issues.
In our report to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee recommends that the government of Kyrgyzstan investigates and brings to justice perpetrators of violence against civilians among government forces during the June 2010 events in the south of the country, and in the period following the violence. The Human Rights Council will review the situation for human rights in Kyrgyzstan at their 21st session set to January 2015. Read NHC report in full below.
European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), a network of NGOs observing elections in Europe, has been united to observe the crucial Presidential elections in Ukraine that took place 25 may. 200 trained civil society observers monitored the elections in 10 regions of Ukraine in cooperation with local observers from Opora and Committee of Voters Ukraine. Norwegian Helsinki Committee, a co-founder of EPDE, joined the mission and assisted in the coordination of the effort. Today, the mission statement was published at a press conference in Kiev.
The President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Sir Suma Chakrabati, visited Kazakhstan during the week of 9 June. During his visit to Almaty, the President and several of his colleagues from the EBRD met with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s Regional Representative in Central Asia, Ivar Dale, to discuss recent developments in the sphere of human rights.
NHC joins campaign:
A vision of a Europe with out political prisoners gathered activists and policy makers on 2 June in Berlin for a conference organised by European Stability Initiative (ESI). Senior European policy makers, parliamentarians, and human rights activists gathered to discuss what different institutions – the Council of Europe, the European Union and international human rights organisations – must do to realise the vision of a Europe without political prisoners in the near future. NHC was a supporter of the conference and secretary General Bjørn Engesland a speaker.
In an open letter to Armenia's President Serzh Sargsyan sent today, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee highlights recommendations from the recent report on civic activism in Armenia and offers to discuss them in a meeting with the President in Yerevan later in June. The report examines developments within the Armenian civil society since the disputed presidential elections in 2008, and points to several issues that need to be addressed in order to counter the lack of trust in the Armenian society today.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the verdict against the renowned independent election observer Anar Mammadli, who in a Baku court yesterday was sentenced to five and-a-half years in prison for tax evasion, illegal business activities, and using their office to falsify election results.
NHC is currently in Ukraine observing the election together with our network European Platform for Democratic Elections. In most of the country it is reported that voters turn out in unpresedented high numbers and that lines are forming in many polling stations. In a large majority of the country, the polling takes place in a calm atmosphere and elections seem to go well by 14:00. In two regions, Donetsk and Lugansk, the polling has been cancelled for security reasons or the fact that some areas are under de facto control of armed pro-Russian rebels
- Gruveulykken i Soma 13. mai, som har tatt over 300 menneskeliv, må etterforskes. Det må være en genuin og åpen etterforskning som får tillit i befolkningen. Gruveeierne og de som hadde ansvar for gruvedriften kan ikke gå fri for sitt ansvar, sa Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, assisterende generalsekretær på en markering for ofrene for ulykken foran Stortinget 20. mai 2014 arrangert av den norske Occupy Gezi Plattformen. Photo: Emrah Gurel.
NHC valgobservatører i Ukraina:
Helsingforskomiteens Berit Lindeman og Lene Wetteland vil observere søndagens presidentvalg i Ukraina. Våre observatører vil
samarbeide tett med nettverket European Platform for Democatic Elections og lokale organisasjoner som tilsammen sender ut
4000 observatører til stemmelokaler søndag.
Til tross for uroligheter, opprør og russiske separatister kan det bli det mest demokratiske valget i landet på lenge. Valgadministrasjonene virker i hovedsak godt forberedte, og ingen av kandidatene har hatt åpenbare og urettmessige fordeler under valgkampen, i motsetning til under de fleste tidligere valg.
International Day against Homophobia:
17th of May is not only a celebration of the Norwegian national day; it is also the International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO). While blue-copies of the Russian legislation banning so-called propaganda of non-traditional relations is on the rise all over Eastern Europe, while LGBTI persons are beaten and killed, public events are banned, peaceful activists are arrested and homo- and transphobia flourish; IDAHO is a reminder that the international community bears responsibility for securing the human rights of sexual and gender minorities all over.
Det norske Stortinget vedtok 13. mai 2014 et eget kapittel om menneskerettigheter i Norges grunnlov. – Dette er et langt skritt i riktig retning, sier Bjørn Engesland, generalsekretær. Vi setter særlig pris på at kapitlet starter med å forplikte statens myndigheter til å «respektere og sikre menneskerettighetene slik de er nedfelt i denne grunnlov og i for Norge bindende traktater om menneskerettigheter» (§ 92). Styrkingen av barnets rettigheter er også meget positivt (§ 104).
Pussy Riot visits NHC event:
Don’t forget about the political prisoners in Russia, it can prevent them from being killed! This was the message from Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, the two Pussy Riot/Zona Prava members that participated at the packed Norwegian Helsinki Committee seminar Safeguarding international institutions against authoritarian abuse on 13 May.
The crisis in Ukraine develops by the day, and the need for sound and objective information is huge. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee recommends the regular updates provided by the Civic Solidarity Platform, a network of human rights organizations who cooperate to gather information with a special attention to the human rights situation. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is a founding member of the Platform and among the NGOs to assist in the efforts in Ukraine. The information provided in the updates is always based on findings by human rights experts on the ground, and our local members of the Platform are key providers of information.
NHC annual meeting:
NHC annual meeting, on 29 April 2014, has adopted our 2013 Annual Report. The report is an account of our wide range of activities during last year, a truly busy and exciting year for the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Among many other issues you can read about our observation of the parliamentary elections in Norway in September, of campaigns in Russia as well as several of the projects and activities the NHC has been engaged in the recent year.
Årsmøteuttalelse DnH årsmøte 2014:
Den norske Helsingforskomité gjennomførte i går årsmøte for våre styre- og rådsmedlemmer på Litteraturhuset i Oslo. I årets uttalelse ber årsmøtet den norske regjeringen om å støtte demokratisering og reformer i Ukraina samt bidra til økt press mot Russlands undergraving av landets myndigheter. Årsmøtet ble ledet av styreleder i Den norske Helsingforskomité Ragnhild Astrup Tschudi.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the detention of prominent Azerbaijani human rights defender Leyla Yunus and raises the alarm she may be facing arrest and criminal charges. Late last night we learned that Leyla Yunus and her husband, historian Arif Yunus were detained at the airport as they were leaving for a conference abroad. They were refused exit from the country, their luggage and home were searched. Leyla Yunus has been interrogated through the night at the general prosecutors’ office in Baku; Arif has been taken to a hospital for medical treatment.
28. april 2014 skal Norge for andre gang høres i FNs menneskerettighetsråd om gjennomføringen av menneskerettighetene i Norge. Sist gang i 2009 fikk Norge flere kritiske merknader, og denne gangen er det Utenriksminister Børge Brende som eksamineres om menneskerettighetene i Norge. I samarbeid med FN-sambandet har vi liveoverføring fra Geneve og panel med kommentarer i FN-sambandets lokaler i Storgata 33. klokken 8:30. Photo: Jean-Marc Ferré, UN.
Policy Paper 4/2014:
The NHC presents our fourth policy paper of 2014. The policy paper discusses the failure to investigate the crimes of the Russian-Georgian war of August 2008, and highlights the importance of a continued involvement in the Georgia war crimes situation by the International Criminal Court.
Det må regjeringen svare for i FN i mai 2014. I likhet med alle andre stater i verden vil Norge bli gjenstand for en Universell Periodisk Undersøkelse (UPR) i FNs Menneskerettighetsråd. Det er fire år siden Norges den første gangen. Selve undersøkelsen tar en halv dag hvor alle verdens stater kan stille spørsmål eller kritisere Norge. – Forberedelsene er allerede godt i gang, og etter mai 2014 vil arbeidet med å følge opp anbefalingene om bedret praksis starte. Frivillige organisasjoner har en viktig rolle å spille hele veien, sier Ole B Lilleås i Den norske Helsingforskomité.
I en anmeldelse som Den norske Helsingforekomité leverer idag til Siri Frigaard, lederen av Det nasjonale statsadvokatembetet for bekjempelse av organisert og annen alvorlig kriminalitet, navngis russiske tjenestemenn mistenkt for tortur og drap av advokaten og varsleren Sergei Magnitsky: Oleg Silchenko, Dmitry Markov og Oleg Kuznetsov. Silchenko var ansvarlig tjenestemann ved det russiske innenriksdepartementet for arrestasjonen og varetektsfengslingen av Magnitsky. De to siste var overordnete tjenestemenn ved Matrosskaya Tishina varetektsfengsel der Magnitsky døde som følge av mishandling med gummikøller.
Utenriksdepartementet har igangsatt et arbeid med en Stortingsmelding om norsk menneskerettighetspolitikk og invitert til innspill og forslag fra sivilsamfunnet. Den norske Helsingforskomité setter pris på at en slik melding skal lages og har nå gitt våre innspill til Utenriksdepartementet.
Sammen men Amnesty International Norge har Den norske Helsingforskomité skrevet et brev til Statsminister og partileder i Høyre Erna Solberg der vi argumenterer for at Høyre bør støtte et forslag om å vedta et nytt kapittel i den norske Grunnloven som inneholder både sivile, politiske, økonomiske, sosiale og kulturelle menneskerettigheter. Les hele brevet under.
Policy Paper 3/2014:
The NHC presents our third policy paper of 2014. The policy paper discusses religious minorities' rights in Turkey, and urges the Turkish government to recognize the Alevi cem houses as places of worship. The Alevi are Turkey's largest religious minority, and the cemevi are their houses of worship.
On 9 April, the Parliament of Kazakhstan has the second hearing on a reform package of four laws related to criminal proceedings in Kazakhstan. – The reform is long awaited since there are several problematic issues with the current legislation, but unfortunately the suggested amendments, if implemented, will result in a more restrictive legislation package rather than an improvement, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the International Legal Initiative in Kazakhstan warn.
On the same day as the Prime Minister and his cabinet unexpectedly stepped down in Astana, yet another independent newspaper was ordered to close in Almaty. The newspaper Assandi Times has been covering cases also critical to the government since 2002, but was closed after a 1 April 2014 court decision following a trial that none of the staff of the newspaper were informed of.
Policy Paper 2/2014:
Ahead of the upcoming parliamentary election in Hungary, the NHC presents our second policy paper. On 6 April 2014 the population will cast their ballots and chose their representatives in the Parliament. Serious issues remain, however, about the state of Hungarian democracy. There is little fear of fraud during elections, but in the media the governing Fidesz party is more visible than opposition parties and the independence of the judiciary is weakened. You can read and download the policy paper below.
Is-hockey VM i Hviterussland:
Fredag 9. mai 2014 starter de første kampene i ishockey-VM i Minsk i Hviterussland. Hviterussland, Europas siste diktatur, har blitt styrt med jernhånd av President Aleksander Lukasjenko de siste tjue år. I den forbindelse har Den norske Helsingforskomité, i samarbeid med Human Rights House Foundation, Norsk PEN og Amnesty International Norge laget en håndbok for journalister som skal dekke Ishockey-VM i Hviterussland, enten planen er å reise til Hviterussland, eller jobben skal gjøres med base i Norge.
This week, the Kyrgyz Parliament Zhogorku Kenesh started initial discussions on a new draft law on “amendments to some legislative acts of the Kyrgyz Republic”, introduced by two parliamentarians. – The title of the draft law can be a cause for confusion, but the intent is quite clear, says Lene Wetteland, Central Asia advisor in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. – The draft law follows the Russian example of a ban on propaganda of so-called non-traditional sexual relations, making it prohibited to talk “openly or covertly” about any topic that in one way or another touch upon LGBTI issues in a positive or neutral way.
Bosnia and Herzegovina:
A regional conference for universities adopted the Sarajevo Declaration on the Role of Higher Education and Civil Society in Education for Peace on 20 March 2014. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee organized the regional conference “The role of universities in peacebuilding” in Sarajevo on 20 March together with our local partners as part of our project Build Bridges, not Walls.
Ukraine, Russia crisis:
NHC is proud to present our new publication format, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee's policy paper. Our first policy paper is a Q&A on the Ukraine, Russia crisis, where we want to point to some of the main legal and human rights issues in the current situation. You can read and download the policy paper below.
In connection with the upcoming meeting between Abdulaziz Kamilov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the European Parliament, the NHC is one of the signatories on an open letter initiated by the International Human Rights Association adressed to the chairman of the European Parliament Mr. Elmar Brook, where we challenge him to adress the serious and systematic human rights violations that are happening every day in Uzbekistan. Read the letter below.
Fritt ords pressepris:
Stiftelsen Fritt Ords og ZEIT-Stiftungs pressepriser for Russland og Øst-Europa i 2014 går til journalister og medier fra Russland, Ukraina, Hviterussland, Aserbajdsjan og Armenia. Tre av årets prisvinnere er nominert av Den norske Helsingforskomité. Vi gratulerer! På bildet er den ukrainske journalisten Mustafa Nayyem, en av årets prisvinnere nominert av Den norske Helsingforskomité.
Søndag 16. mars skal befolkningen på Krim i Ukraina avholde folkeavstemning om sin fremtidige status. – En overveldende rekke fakta tilsier at folkeavstemningen på Krim ikke er legitim, både av formelle, juridiske årsaker, men også når vi legger den faktiske situasjonen på Krim til grunn, sier Bjørn Engesland, generalsekretær i Den norske Helsingforskomité.
- Turkey is not a theocratic or confessional state. It is a secular state with significant human rights commitments in the sphere of freedom of religion or belief. However, Turkey is struggling with protecting the right to freedom of religion or belief fully for all, to comply with the principle of state neutrality and to ensure pluralism, Mine Yildrim, Head of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Freedom of Belief Initiative in Turkey, said at a seminar on religion and state in Turkey arranged by the Norwegian Helsinki arranged on 12 March 2014.
Krisen i Ukraina:
Den norske Helsingforskomité følger med forferdelse den dramatiske utviklingen i Ukraina. Det er grunn til å frykte en fullskala militær konflikt på Krimhalvøya, med de konsekvensene det vil ha for liv, sikkerhet og grunnleggende menneskerettigheter der, i Ukraina og i hele regionen.
I dag spiller Den norske Helsingforskomité sine synspunkter på menneskerettighetsutvalgets innstilling til Stortingets kontroll- og konstitusjonskomité. - Stortinget har en historisk sjanse til å styrke menneskerettighetenes stilling i norsk lovgivning. I forrige periode ble det fremmet forslag om et eget kapittel med de sentrale menneskerettighetene i Grunnloven. Nå må det sittende Stortinget kjenne sin besøkelsestid og vedta denne viktige reformen, sier Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, assisterende generalsekretær i Den norske Helsingforskomité. Les vårt innspill og se møtet live ved å klikke på linken under.
- The judgments by a Moscow court of eight Bolotnaya protesters to prison terms from two and half to four years must be seen in the context of Kremlin efforts to stifle opposition, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. - The judgments send a chilling message to ordinary Russians that they should refrain from taking part in protests against President Vladimir Putin and his rule. If not they may face serious consequences. The judgments target Russian civic activism and basic freedoms.
Helgens utvikling har vært svært dramatisk. Lørdag tok de opposisjonelle kreftene kontrollen over alle de sentrale statlige institusjonene, men president Janukovitsj og han nærmeste medarbeidere forlot hovedstaden Kiev. Innen i morgen skal Oleksander Turtsjunov, som det ukrainske parlamentet i går utnevnte til interim president, presentere en ny regjering. Vi håper Turtsjunov vil skape et grunnlag for forsoning.
President Viktor Janukovitsj sitter med nøkkelen og ansvaret for å få slutt på volden og å få til en politisk prosess, sier generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland om den svært dramatiske situasjonen. I tillegg til den omfattende volden i Kiev, har protester og uro også spredt seg til en rekke andre byer.
NGO forum for human rights:
Norwegian Helsinki Committee, of behalf of the Norwegian NGO Forum for Human Rights, has submitted recommendations to the Government of Norway on human rights in 2014 at United Nations. The recommendations are particularly directed towards Norway's efforts before the UN Human Rights Council, but are relevant also to other UN bodies. Some of the issues will be discussed today when NGO forum for human rights meet with Foreign Minister Børge Brende on Norway's future human rights strategy.
The NHC is deeply concerned about today’s verdict concerning the environmental activist Evgeny Vitishko, who in a Krasnodar court has been sentenced to three years in penal colony. Photo: Oleg Kozirov
Open letter to Czech President:
Together with 27 other human rights organisations, the NHC sent a letter to the Czech President Miloš Zeman, criticizing his decision to invite the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov to an official state visit to Prague on 20-22 February. Islam Karimov is the leader of one of the most repressive governments in the world, and should not be rewarded with the prestige and recognition associated with an official state visit. Though the Czech President initially responded to the letter by calling the human rights groups uninformed and hypocritical, on 13 February it was known that Karimov had decided to "postpone" his visit, a decision welcomed by international human rights activists and victims of human rights abuse in Uzbekistan. Read the letter below.
- Demonstrasjonene i Ukraina er oppstått fordi ukrainere er inderlig lei av korrupsjon, maktmisbruk og brudd på menneskerettighetene. Landet har behov for store reformer, til dette trengs stor støtte til ukrainsk sivilsamfunn. Den norske Helsingforskomité samarbeider med lokale, ukrainske organisasjoner for å skape en ny framtid i Ukraina.
New NHC report:
The NHC has monitored developments in Armenia closely since the disputed presidential election in 2008. This fresh report provides an analysis of trends within civic activism since the unrest that resulted in 10 deaths on 1 March 2008 until the recent demonstrations against the Russia-led customs union. – The authorities’ reactions to civic engagement in Armenia over the last weeks is definitely a reason for concern, says Armenia advisor in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Lene Wetteland. – Though Armenia has received praise for legal reforms and some positive developments in the EU rapprochement process, these recent actions should serve as a warning that these steps can easily be retracted, Wetteland says.
During the Winter session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) today, an overwhelming majority voted for the adoption of the report "Refusing impunity for the killers of Sergei Magnitsky"
The Government of Ukraine chose to meet demands for democracy with hastily adopted laws effectively taking away from people fundamental rights and freedoms. The last few days have been dominated by serious violence with clashes between police and protesters in Kiev, the city famous for its peaceful protests. This morning, we got the sad news that two demonstrators have been killed, we fear more as tension is on the rise. – European leaders should engage in what happens in Kiev and intensify efforts to support the protesters’ demand for human rights, Secretary General Bjørn Engesland says. President Yanukovich clearly has demonstrated that Ukraine’s hard earned freedom and democratic development is of no importance to him. To avoid further bloodshed it is time to consider which sanctions could be efficient to force President Yanukovich and the Government of Ukraine to turn back, repeal undemocratic laws and to make sincere efforts to bring parties together for talks.
OL i Sotsji:
På gårsdagens informasjonsmøte for norske journalister som skal reise til OL i Sotsji var oppfordringen klar: Dra ut av OL-byen, lag saker om det virkelige Russland, og møt menneskene som vet hva som virkelig foregår i regionen.
In September, Armenia’s President Sargsyan decided to sign initial agreements with the Russian-led Customs Union on the eve of when he was expected to sign documents on an Association Agreement and a Deep and Comprehensive Trade Agreement with the EU.
On 16 December 2013 Anar Mammadli, chairman of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre, Baku (EMDS) and board member of the network European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) was arrested and given a three months pre-trial detention at the Nasimin District Court in Baku.
Brev til Bård Glad Pedersen:
I anledning statssekretær Bård Glad Pedersens besøk i Russland 14. og 15. desember har Den norske Helsingforskomité spilt inn synspunkter på det vi mener er de mest sentrale menneskerettslige utfordringene i Russland. Les hele brevet til statssekretæren under.
Søndag avviklar Turkmenistan det som i mange andre land kallast parlamentsval, i Norge Stortingsval. Det vil seie – det blir kalla parlamentsval i Turkmenistan óg, det er stemmelokale med alt riktig tilbehør over heile landet og det kjem eit resultat etter ei oppteljing av stemmesedlar, men det er ikkje eit val.
Den norske Helsingforskomité var med å arrangere gårsdagens støttemarkering for Ukraina foran Stortinget.
NGO meeting in Kiev:
On 5 December Foreign Minister Børge Brende met representatives from OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference in Kiev in connection with the now ongoing OSCE Ministerial Council.
Civic Solidarity Platform:
Ivar Dale, NHC Central Asia representative, has participated at the OSCE Parallel Civil Society conference in Kiev in connection with the now ongoing OSCE Ministerial Council. During the meeting, the Civic Solidarity Platform developed a policy document containing civil society analysis and recommendations on alarming human dimension issues across the OSCE region and on human dimensions issues in Ukraine, in light of the country’s OSCE Chairmanship. It also includes recommendations for increasing the efficiency of the OSCE human dimension process. -The Platform provides an excellent opportunity for non-governmental organizations to meet and develop common strategies to fight the serious human rights violations that unfortunately remain all over the OSCE region. The Outcome Document should be studied closely by government representatives who wish to contribute to democratic development, Ivar Dale comments.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee follows with great concern the dramatic developments in the streets of Kiev where at least 350 000 protesters gathered this weekend demanding the resignation of President Yanukovich.
After a run-up marked by flagrant violations of political pluralism and freedom of information, President Ilham Aliyev’s reelection by an overwhelming majority on 10 October 2013, in a poll that the OSCE considered “seriously flawed”, has been followed by new crackdown on the media. The daily newspaper Azadliq, one of the few remaining opposition news outlets, is now in danger of succumbing to efforts to throttle it financially. NHC joins other human rights defenders in voicing concern at the situation.
Nei da. Vi er ikke utenlandske agenter på ordentlig. Men vi kaller oss det i dag 21. november, for å gjøre deg oppmerksom på at sivilsamfunnet i Russland er i alvorlig fare.
On 7 May, the Kyrgyzstani NGO Bir Duino ("One World") presented the results of their analysis of the problems of early marriages and early pregnancy in Kyrgyzstan at a press conference in Bishkek. Photo: Kloop.kg
Tajikistan Presidential Elections:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was present in Tajikistan this week to tap the atmosphere surrounding the 6 November presidential elections, where the incumbent Emomali Rakhmon as of Thursday morning took 83,9 % of the votes. The landslide win came as no surprise, with the run-up to Election Day following a familiar formula long established in Tajikistan as well as in many of its neighboring states. -Pre-determined election results are no proof of stability. We consider that it merely reflects the lack of political pluralism in Tajikistan, said Ivar Dale, Norwegian Helsinki Committee Regional Representative in Central Asia.
A new book edited by Russian-French journalist Elena Servettaz, arguing for Europe to enact a Magnitsky law similar to the US Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was launched in the UK on 5 November. -The book presents powerful arguments that Europe should deny visa and freeze assets of those who killed Sergei Magnitsky and other human rights violators, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General.
Letter to PM David Cameron:
Together with a coalition of 70 free speech, media freedom and human rights organisations worldwide, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has sent a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, where we express our concerns that the way the United Kingdom government’s response to the revelations of mass surveillance of digital communications is eroding fundamental human rights in the country. The government’s response has been to condemn, rather than celebrate investigative journalism, which plays a crucial role in a healthy democratic society. Rather than using national security as an argument to hinder journalists in their work, the Governemnet should honour the UK’s international obligations to defend and protect the right to freedom of expression and media freedom, and to end the UK government’s pressure on the Guardian and those who assist them. The letter was initiated by Article 19, United Kingdom. Read the letter below.
The European Platform for Democratic Elections protests against the intimidation of its member organization, the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS) in Baku. We are worried that the investigations led by the Prosecutor general’s office, have political motives, a reaction to the critical statements made by EMDS after the recent Presidential elections in Azerbaijan. - As a member of the European Platform for Democratic Elections, we join the protests and we are very worried to see that another efficient election monitoring NGO is targeted by the authorities, says Secretary General Bjørn Engesland. Last April, Russian partner Golos was convicted for failing to comply with NGO-legislation and failing to register as 'foreign agents'.
-We can report only minor irregularities here in the Batumi area, and for what we have witnessed, the elections process this time is a big step forward for Georgia compared to what we have seen in previous elections. NHCs Aage Borchgrevink is in Georgia together with colleagues to observe the presidential elections in Akhalkalaki, Akhaltsike and Batumi. Even though we are aware of irregularities, compared to previous years, people are not put under pressure, they are more open and they went to vote in a calm manner, Borchgrevink says.
Den norske Helsingforskomité har skrevet brev til Statsminister Erna Solberg der vi peker på noen menneskerettslige utfordringer
som vi ber regjeringen prioritere. - Det er behov for et sterkt politisk fokus på gjennomføringen og overvåkingen av internasjonale
menneskerettigheter; både i utenrikspolitikken og i Norge, sier generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland.
Les brevet i sin helhet under.
Foto: Heiko Junge/NTB scanpix/SMK
Together with a group of human rights NGOs from several European countries, the NHC sent a letter yesterday to the ministers
of foreign affairs of EU member states urging the EU to extend and expand its targeted economic sanctions against Belarusian
companies providing support to the authoritarian regime of Alexander Lukashenka by exporting to and through the EU.
- I am extremely concerned that the political prisoners, who have languished in prison for almost three years under terrible circumstances, slowly are being forgotten by Europe. Effective sanctions are the best tool we have at hand, they should be strengthened, not weakened, until the prisoners are released and Lukashenka truly improves his record of human rights in Belarus, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary general of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
In a surprising statement after last week's elections in Azerbaijan, delegations from the European Parliament and the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly concluded that they had observed "free, fair and transparent electoral process". They did this despite the widespread and reliable reports of fraud, pressure against voters and other manipulations. - We find it quite astonishing that European parliamentary delegation members, who should defend the voters' right to democratic elections, instead choose to look away from the facts of the presidential elections in Azerbaijan, secretary general Bjørn Engesland says. Together with the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) we have made a statement criticizing the delegations.
22. august arrangerte Helsingforskomiteen seminaret 108 døgn i Lukasjenkos fangehull på Litteraturhuset i Oslo. Det ble en følelsesladet rapport fra Europas siste diktatur. Under kan du se introduksjonene til våre hovedgjester Anatoly Lebedko og Andrei Kim.
On 30 September 2013, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan presented a democratization package to address some of the fundamental issues in the country, including freedom of religion or belief issues. - While the package includes positive elements, it falls short of introducing a principled approach to freedom of religion or belief, said Mine Yildirim, head of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Freedom of Belief Initiative in Turkey.
The new NHC report Kazakhstan: Cunning democracy, analyzes the current situation for democracy in the country, and summarizes some of our current concerns with regards to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom of religion or belief. The report is co-written with Freedom House.
Amnesty Norge, LLH og Helsingforskomiteen markerte i går Putins fødselsdag med kake og spesielt inviterte gjester på Egertorget
In a joint call issued today on the eve of the Presidential election, 22 human right organisations and press freedom campaigners warn that the failure of the government of Azerbaijan to respect human rights, including freedom of expression, undermines the democratic legitimacy of the government. - Azerbaijan should take immediate action to ensure fundamental rights are protected ahead of the election, including by releasing journalists, political activists and human rights defenders, to ensure the election is free and fair, NHCs Secretary General Bjørn Engesland says.
In July 2012, Tajikistani authorities used disproportional force in a special operation in the mountainous Pamir region of Tajikistan, bordering Afghanistan. Officially, the authorities were aiming to arrest criminals linked to militant forces in Afghanistan. Effectively, communications lines were cut off for a long period of time, a large number of civilians suffered in terms of property damage and injuries, and more than 22 people died. One year later, the authorities have failed to provide adequate information on the details around what happened and which legal acts are being taken to punish those involved.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee congratulates the Belarussian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski with the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize. - Ales Bialiatski has devoted his life to the fight for human rights, democracy and freedom for all citizens of Belarus. As our good friend and collegaue we have seen how his work has made a tremendous impact on so many people lives. I can hardly imagine a more well-deserved prize, says Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.
7. oktober tennes OL-ilden i Moskva og Putin fyller 61 år. Men ikke alle er velkomne til å feire begivenhetene. Det vil Amnesty, LLH og Helsingforskomiteen gjøre noe med. Derfor inviterer vi til bursdagsfest på Egertorget mandag 7. oktober kl. 15-16. Det er Putins bursdag, men vi inviterer gjestene.
– Snowden’s avsløringer i The Guardian og The Washington Post må føre til at det vedtas sterkere internasjonale regler for å hindre overvåkning av personer uten begrunnet rettskjennelse og uten at de er mistenkt for lovbrudd, sier Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, assisterende generalsekretær. – Helsingforskomiteen har tidligere kritisert at Telia Sonera og Vimpelcom (deleid av Telenor) gir autoritære regimer i post-sovjetiske land som Usbekistan og Hviterussland tilgang til sine systemer. USA og andre demokratiske land må nå sette en standard for å hindre utvikling av et globalt online overvåkingssamfunn. De må ta et oppgjør med en praksis som er i strid med internasjonale menneskerettigheter og egne konstitusjonelle verdier.
From 26 September to 3 October 2013 the Norwegian Helsinki Committee will participate at this years' OSCE Human Dimensions Implementation Meeting (HDIM) in Warsaw. HDIM is an arena where civil society representatives can present views and directly challenge state represenatives. For many of the participants from non-democratic countries this is a rare opportunity. NHC is, as always, very active during the conference.
Members of the Civic Solidarity Platform are deeply concerned about the safety of journalist Sergey Naumov, who was arrested by police in his home town Urgench in Khorazm Province, Uzbekistan on Saturday night, 21 September 2013 and later sentenced to 12 days imprisonment for "hooliganism".
- Supporting and protecting the Belgrade Pride Parade and Pride Week 2013 is an opportunity for Serbian authorities to show its commitment for the human rights for all persons, and in particular, the human rights of those belonging to sexual and gender minorities (LGBTI), Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee says. The Pride Parade march in the streets of Belgrade is scheduled for September 28.
UN Human Rights Council:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and other Civic Solidarity Platform members urge in a letter to Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, Norway to use its influence at the UN Human Rights Council to oppose the “traditional values” agenda. This agenda attempts to undermine the universality of fundamental human rights, and is part of a global trend to qualify human rights protections and restrict the civic space for the expression of dissent.
34 observatører fra 11 land i det tidligere Sovjetunionen har gjennomført valgobservasjon av årets Stortingsvalg. Valgobservatørene har blitt tatt svært godt i mot over hele landet, og har observert et valg der velgerne har stor grad av tillit til valgprosessen. Valget har vært gjennomført på en svært profesjonell måte. Allikevel, det er forbedringspotensial også her.
Valgobservasjon Stortingsvalget 2013:
Internasjonalt valgobservatørkorps setter Stortingsvalget under lupen! Helsingforskomiteen har invitert 33 erfarne observatører fra 11 land som vil observere valget fra Kristiansand i sør til Kirkenes i nord. - Demokratiske valg er ingen selvfølge. Mens Norge er et land hvor velgere flest stoler på at vi har frie og rettferdige valg, spiller valgobservasjon en avgjørende rolle i dokumentasjonen av juks og manipulasjon i svært mange land. Til tross for at norske valg holder en svært høy standard, vet vi av tidligere erfaring at observatørene kan påvise forbedringspunkter også hos oss, sier Generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland.
In a letter to the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyevin and the Prosecutor General Zakir, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, along with several Human Rights NGOs, express a profound concern regarding the continued harassment and intimidation of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova and the resulting interference in her work. - We urge the President of Azerbaijan to take immediate steps to ensure a prompt, thorough, effective and transparent investigation into the threats made against the journalist Khadija Ismayilova, as well as ensuring the effectiveness of the current investigation into the violation of Ismayilovas right to privacy, Secretary general Bjørn Engesland says.
– The guilty verdicts of lawyer and world known whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky and the man he represented, William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Management Capital, by a Moscow court on 11 July 2013 represents a new low point in Russia’s efforts to distort facts and cover-up the real wrongdoing in the case, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. – The Magnitsky case implicates Russian authorities in a series of human rights violations, including illegal arrest, torture, and failure to provide medical treatment. Now they have added new violations to the list; exposing the legal nihilism and lack of rule of law in the country.
On 29 June, Jennifer Lopez and other artists performed at a birthday concert for President Berdymuhammedov, Turkmenistan's
- Turkmenistan is one of the worst human rights performers in the world, says Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsiniki Committee Bjørn Engesland. Such an appearance in Turkmenistan not only legitimises a corrupt and authoritarian regime, but also reflects badly on any artist's aspirations to draw attention to human rights issues. In an open letter to Ms Lopez, the NHC and several other international NGOs encourage her to donate the fee she received to a charity working to improve the dismal human rights situation in the country.
– The killing of journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev on Tuesday 9 July should be promptly investigated and those responsible should be prosecuted, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. – The attempted murder on Akhmednabiev in January 2013 was ignored by the Prosecutor’s office, in spite of a Dagestan Supreme Court decision that it should be investigated. This culture of impunity for those attacking and even murdering journalists and human rights defenders in North Caucasus must end. If not, authorities will remain complicit in these killings.
Council of Europe:
In a letter to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Pace) The Norwegian Helsinki Committee, together with 23 other international human rights organisations, strongly urges PACE to condemn so-called “homosexual propaganda” bans as incompatible with the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the prohibition of discrimination. The Assembly should vote in favour of today’s resolution and recommendation on tackling discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Read the letter below
Following her detention upon arrival to Tashkent International Airport from Bishkek at 7:20 PM on Monday 24 June, prominent Kyrgyzstani human rights activist Tolekan Ismailova was deported to Almaty, Kazakhstan in the afternoon of 25 June.
The Siberian newspaper Yakutsk Vecherny, and Yelena Kostyuchenko, journalist of Novaya Gazeta, were among the laureates of this year’s Press Freedom Award, issued by Fritt Ord and Zeit Stiftung. – The prize jury has come to an important and appropriate decision, drawing attention to the deteriorating conditions for freedom of speech and the difficult situation for journalists in today’s Russia, said Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.
The Turkish government should respect freedoms and establish independent investigation into police violence against demonstrators. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned about recent reports of police abuse against largely peaceful demonstrators in Istanbul, Ankara and many other Turkish cities.
Den norske Helsingforskomité har sluttet seg til en markering på Youngstorget på onsdag 19. juni kl. 18.00. Markeringen arrangeres
av LIM - nettverket, norsk - tyrkiske fredsaktivister og Norges Fredsråd med støtte fra en rekke andre organisasjoner.
Budskapet er: Respekter ytringsfriheten, ta vare på miljøet og stopp politivolden mot demonstrantene. Nefise Özkal Lorentzen fra LIM og John Peder Egenæs fra Amnesty International Norge er blant appellantene. Sufimusikk og fotoutstilling med bilder fra demonstrasjonene i Tyrkia står også på programmet.
New NHC report:
The report "Women: Turkmenistan’s Second-Class Citizens” gives a unique look into the everyday life of women in Turkmenistan.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the legislation waved through this week by the Russian State Duma; prohibiting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”. The restrictive legislation is part of a wider trend of worsening human rights situation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.
Barentssamarbeidet 20 år:
Mandag 3. juni kommer den russiske statsministeren Dmitry Medvedev til Kirkenes for å bli med på feiringen av 20-årsjubileeet for Barentsssamarbeidet, som omfatter Finland, Norge, Russland og Sverige. Statsminister Jens Stoltenberg skal etter planen ha et separat møte med sin russiske kollega Dmitry Medvedev den 4. juni. – Gitt den forverringen i Russland vi nå er vitne til når det gjelder myndighetenes behandling av menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner og andre deler av det sivile samfunnet, må Stoltenberg prioritere menneskerettighetsspørsmål i samtalene med Medvedev, sier generalsektretær Bjørn Engesland. Utviklingen i Russland er stikk i strid med Barentserklæringen.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce the continuation of our small grants fund for Central Asia. All organizations with project proposals related to human rights, democratization or strengthening of civil society may apply. While we are open to all good proposals, we encourage projects in Kazakhstan related to the outlying regions of the country. In Kyrgyzstan, we are particularly interested in projects addressing the basic human rights of vulnerable groups as well as legal initiatives. In Tajikistan, strengthening of the media and the rights of children is important. However, we are open to original and innovative ideas.
Russian Civic Assistance Committee will soon present a book,- a collection of memories of eyewitnesses of and participants in the Chechen wars. The title of the book, published in Russian, is ‘Stories of one war’ / Каждый молчит о своем: истории одной войны,
Human Rights Council:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has joined a call to the President of the UN Human Rights Council to ensure that records of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) reflect all recommendations presented to the state under review. Recently, Russia managed to remove two recommendations from Georgia from the list of recommendations at the end of the report and to get them added as footnote. This is the last blow against the format of the Working Group reports which regularly, under the attack of countries under Review, get modified and weakened. The statement calls on the President to issue a statement which would clearly define how the Working Group report should be made and what it should contain.
One of Russia’s most respected human rights defenders, Svetlana Gannushkina, is prosecuted for “failure to comply with legal requirements by the Prosecutor” and is to stand trial on 4 June. Gannushkina, the head of the Civic Assistance Committee (CAC), suspended cooperation with the Moscow Prosecutors' office in April 2013 because unreasonable requirements were imposed on her organization. In 2007, Svetlana received the Sakharov Freedom Award from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. She has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize by Erna Solberg, the head of the Conservative Party in Norway.
Den internasjonale domstolen for det tidligere Jugoslavia:
Seks ledere for den Kroatiske utbryterrepublikken i Bosnia-Herzegovina er funnet skyldig i krigsforbrytelser og forbrytelser mot menneskeheten. Dommen ble avsagt i Den internasjonale domstolen for det tidligere Jugoslavia (ICTY) i dag, to årtier etter at bosniske muslimer ble myrdet og deportert fra Bosnia-Herzegovina under den blodige krigen i det tidligere Jugoslavia. – Dommen er svært viktig for å vise ofrene at deres lidelser har blitt sett og erkjent, sier Helsingforskomiteens undervisningsleder Enver Djuliman, selv fra Mostar i Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is present in Kiev during the Kiev Pride 2013. Ahead of the Pride March, Queer Youth Norway and LLH - Norwegian LGBT Association jointly with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee sent a letter to the Ukrainian Embassador to Norway, Yurii Onischenko, expressing concern over the reports that the Pride might be banned by the Kiev City Administration. Read the letter below.
-Norwegian authorities should contribute to Europe enacting Magnitsky type legislation, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. – There is need for new ways of addressing the very serious human rights violations that take place in Russia from the part of European governments and institutions. Magnitsky legislation may prove to be an efficient supplement to regional and international human rights mechanisms. Norway should signal support of the EU enacting Magnitsky type legislation.
Med Jo Benkows bortgang er en markant støttespiller i kampen for demokrati og menneskerettigheter i Europa gått bort.
One year after the bombing of the DIY pub and violent counter demonstrators attacked a Diversity March in Yerevan, Armenia still suffers from widespread intolerance and discrimination of minorities. The legislation does not include hate crime with intent towards gender and sexual minorities, and the government fails to protect the rights of these citizens. Media is more often used as a tool to build up under prejudice and intolerance, and homophobic statements are frequently used by stakeholders to gain popularity.
Today, 13 May 2013, eight years have passed since the horrific massacre of civilians by government forces in the Uzbek town of Andijan. In spite of repeated calls from the international community, Uzbekistan still refuses to carry out an independent investigation.
The journalist Elena Bondar has been granted refugee status from the UNHCR. Bondar had been working as a reporter for Ferghana News Agency, the leading news site covering Central Asia, often writing under a pseudonym. Uzbek authorities opened criminal investigations against her, and she was forced to leave the country. Originally, the UNHCR rejected her application for asylum, but the decision was overturned after Bondar lodged an appeal.
Endemic corruption, arbitrariness and denial of justice are key words that illustrate the justice system of Turkmenistan today. Few citizens dare to address the system for help, knowing that virtually any case is decided through money and good connections. Now, three brave persons that independently of each other have been through the system and back with their complaints to no avail, hope that international resonance to their case can create a positive precedence for others.
With today's opening of the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Stockholm and Helsinki, the Don’t Play with the Dictator! campaign has written a letter to the President of the International Ice Hockey Federation René Fasel, where we urge him and the representatives of the national IIHF member organisations to support the victims of human rights violations by removing the 2014 IIHF World Championship from Belarus at the next meeting of the IIHF General Congress in Stockholm in May 2013. The NHC is a member of the Don't Play with the Dictator! campaign. Read the letter below.
Azerbaijan at the UPR:
In a statement published 29 April, NHC and the International Partnership Group on Azerbaijan urges the member states of the United Nations to hold Azerbaijan accountable during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 30 April 2013 for its failure to protect basic human rights. The International Partnership Group on Azerbaijan, in which NHC is a partner, urge the UN to take Azerbaijan to task for failing to implement the commitments it made after its first review in 2009. Read the full statement below.
Human rights education:
As part of the NHC project on the role of Universities in peacebuilding, a conference was held 19-20 April in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. The aim of the conference was to initiate a dialogue on how universities can contribute to build and promote peace in the region. The University of Tuzla is one of five partner universities from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo, that participates in the project Build Bridges not Walls: the Role of the Universities in Peacebuilding.
Årsmøteuttalelse NHC årsmøte 2013:
Den norske Helsingforskomité har gjennomført årsmøte for våre styre- og rådsmedlemmer. I årets uttalelse ber årsmøtet den norske regjeringen om kraftfullt å ta til motmæle mot de pågående angrepene mot russisk sivilsamfunn, særlig med bakgrunn i dommen mot vår 2012 Sakharovs Frihetsprisvinner Golos. Årsmøtet ble leder av visepresident i vårt råd, Stortingsrepresentant Anne Marit Bjørnflaten.
NHC annual meeting:
NHC annual meeting, on 25 April 2013, has adopted our 2012 Annual Report. The report is an account of our wast activities during last year, one of the most active in our history. Among many other issues you can read about the Norwegian Helsinki Committe 35 years' anniversary, celebrated last year with a jubilee seminar with partners and friends as well as the Sakharov Freedom Award 2012 ceremony, presenteing the award to the Russian Association Golos on 23 October last year.
Today, Golos was convicted for failing to comply with NGO-legislation and failing to register as foreign agents.NHC was a witness during the trial where we refuted claims that Golos has accepted prize money from us. The legislation is itself in violation of international law, and we condemn the court decision as unlawful. Golos must pay a fine of 300 000 roubles, approx. 9 500 USD. Follow updates on our Facebook-page and on Twitter nhc_no.
Sonia Biserko, Chair of the Serbian Helsinki Committee and author of the book “Yugoslavia’s Implosion” published by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, visited Brussels on 19-20 March to launch the book and take part in discussions around the topic of “Serbian nationalism still alive: what impact for EU enlargement?”.
Golos victim of repressive NGO-legislation in Russia:
On April 25, Golos was convicted for failing to comply with NGO-legislation and failing to register as foreign agents. NHC was a witness during the trial where we refuted claims that Golos has accepted prize money from us. The legislation is itself in violation of international law, and we condemn the court decision as unlawful. Golos must pay a fine of 300 000 roubles, approx. 9 500 USD. On 9 April Golos, a renowned human rights NGO conducting election monitoring in Russia, and Golos director Lilia Shibanova, was informed by the Ministry of Justice that a case is initiated against them for being in breach of the 2012 "foreign agents law”. – To initiate legal actions against a human rights organizations for not having registered as a “foreign agent”, is a violation by Russian authorities of international standards, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. The 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders clearly states the rights of human rights defenders to receive funding from abroad.
In a letter sent yesterday to the Turkish Minister of Interior Muammar Güler, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee expresses our
concern about the death treats against the Turkish lawyer Erdal Doğan, who is a legal counsel for the victims in the Zirve/Malatya
trial concerning the killing of three Christians on 18 April 2007 in Malatya, South Eastern Turkey. The letter is a part of
NHC's new initiative in Turkey, the Freedom of Belief Initiative, a human rights project founded to improve the protection
of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief in Turkey. The project is headed by our co-ordinator in
Istanbul, Mine Yildirim. A letter has also been sent to Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of
Human Rights Defenders and Nils Muižnieks,
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was relieved to learn of the decision by Ukrainian authorities to respect international human rights obligations and to reject an extradition request for the former Prime Minister of Tajikistan to his home country.
I et brev til Statminister Jens Stoltenberg i dag ber Helsingforskomiteen ham om å ta opp den pågående russiske myndighetskampanjen mot det sivile samfunn når han møter Statsminister Dimitrij Medvedev i St.Petersburg 5. april. - Stoltenberg bør benytte anledningen til å kritisere den pågående myndighetskamapanjen mot russiske NGO-er direkte med Statsminister Medvedev. Politikken er klart i strid med Russlands internasjonale forpliktelser, og rammer menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner særlig sterkt, sier Helsingforskomiteens generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland i brevet. Ifølge informasjon Helsingforskomiteen har innhentet fra sine russiske partnere er så langt 121 organisasjoner i 29 russiske regioner blitt oppsøkt av myndighetene. Fem organisasjoner som Helsingforskomiteen støtter med midler fra Utenriksdepartementet er hittil blitt gjenstand for inspeksjoner. Les hele brevet under.
Universal Periodic Review Armenia:
Together with the Civil Society Institute (CSI) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) the Norwegian Helsinki Committee have submitted a mid-term assessment (May 2010–December 2012) following recommendations by the United Nations Human Rights Council at Armenia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2010.
The report "Democracy and human rights at stake in Hungary", published by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) on 23 January
2013, describes how Viktor Orbán’s government centralised power after taking office in 2010 by undermining the independence
of courts and putting media freedom under pressure.
The report was met with considerable criticism from Hungarian authorities, claiming that it overlooked important factors, exaggerated problems, was biased against the current government, and neglected its concessions to international criticism and Constitutional Court decisions. In particular, Hungary’s ambassador to Norway, Mr Géza Jeszensky, issued a 4 ½ page critical letter to the NHC outlining his government’s response, while Ferenc Kumin, Deputy State Secretary for International Communication, responded very negatively to the report in his blog.
In this Q&A, the NHC outlines its position on some of the main points raised in these discussions. In addition, some comments are given to the extensive amendments of the Fundamental Law (the Constitution) of 11 March 2013. The amendments caused renewed concerns that the government’s project of centralisation is ongoing despite strong domestic and international criticism.
I et brev til utenriksminsiter Espen Barth Eide i dag ber vi ham offentlig å gi uttrykk for at russiske myndigheter må stoppe den pågående kampanjen mot det sivile samfunn. - Organisasjoner som fremmer menneskerettigheter har rett til å kunne operere fritt, selv om de får økonomisk støtte fra utlandet, sier Helsingforskomiteens generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland. - Vi har også bedt Eide ta initiativ til at europeiske toppledere kritiserer myndighetenes kampanje mot det sivile samfunnet i klare ordelag.
Russia, mass inspections of NGOs:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned about recent developments in Russia related to freedom of association and the rights of human rights defenders to conduct their work, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General. – Large numbers of non-government organizations were today subject to inspections from authorities, including Memorial and other well-known human rights organisations. The inspections are follow-up on recently adopted restrictive legislation that violates freedom of association and aims at obstructing human rights work in the country. European institutions and governments should react strongly.
Serbia and Europe:
Chair of the Helsinki Committee for human rights in Serbia Sonja Biserko will present her book «Yugoslavia’s implosion», as well as views on Serbia with relevance to Serbia’s EU integration, in events in Brussels on 18-20 March 2013. The book, published by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, will be presented to the public on Wednesday 20 March at 13.00. There will also be meetings with the European Parliament Working Group for Western Balkans, representatives of the European Commission, Directorate General of Englargement among others. The visit is organized by the NHC in co-operation with our liason in Brussels, the International Partnership for Human Rights.
I anledning Kosovos Statsminister Hashim Thaçis norgesbesøk som starter i dag, har Helsingforskomiteen satt opp en liste over menneskerettighetsutfordringer som Kosovo står overfor. Thaçis delegasjon består blant annet av Europaminister Vlora Çitaku og vise-utenriksminister Petrit Selimi. Selimi skal være hovedinnleder på dagens NUPI-seminar som har fokus på Kosovos EU-integrering.
On 24 July central Special Forces entered the Gorno-Badakshan region (Pamir) with military personnel and equipment, including helicopters. Allegedly, the aim was to arrest the militants suspect of the murder of the local head of the KNB. However, as the day advanced, reports of civilian casualties emerged, as well as raids and shooting of schools and private homes. There was no organized evacuation of civilians before the actions started, and an information blockade followed.
Voting at the 2013 Presidential elections in Armenia is underway, following a month of low key campaigning. The ruling Republican party’s candidate and incumbent president Serge Sargsyan is expected to win the majority of the votes in an election where the three largest opposition parties in the Parliament did not advance or support any candidate. NHC's Lene Wetteland is observing the elections in Vanadzor.