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
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.
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
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.
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, 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.
Just minutes ago, 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?”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Oslo/Almaty: On 5 February 2013, the former Prime Minister of Tajikistan, Abdulmalik Abdullodzhonov, was arrested at Borispol
International Airport in Kiev, Ukraine. Abdullodzhonov, who has been residing in the USA for the past 14 years, had arrived
to Ukraine on private business and was detained due to his having been included on the Interpol wanted list by Tajik authorities.
If extradited, Abdullodzhonov is at great risk of being subjected to ill-treatment and torture.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee, of behalf of the Norwegian NGO Forum for Human Rights, has submitted the annual recommendations
to the Government of Norway on human rights 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.
- “Civic observation is a powerful instrument for citizens’ control over electoral processes and deserves the attention and
the support of the European institutions. We wish the best success for the newly established “European Platform for Democratic
Elections” said Werner Schulz, Member of the European Parliament, during the presentation of the EPDE at the European Parliament
on Wednesday January 30th.
Rapporten Democracy and human rights at stake in Hungary som Den norske Helsingforskomité publiserer i dag viser hvordan Viktor
Orbáns regjering sentraliserer makten og setter domstolenes uavhengighet og medienes frihet under press. - Ungarn ble inntil
nylig sett på som et av de mest vellykkede nye demokratiene i Sentra-Europa, men på kort tid har utviklingen gått i motsatt
retning i en grad som de færreste trodde var mulig, sier generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland i en uttalelse i forbindelse med
The International Partnership Group, coordinated by ARTICLE 19, along with Amnesty International, Norwegian Helsinki Committee
and several Azerbaijani and international NGOs urges the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to make a
strong call for Azerbaijan to improve its deteriorating human rights record. On Wednesday 23 January, the vote on two crucial
resolutions on Azerbaijan will be an opportunity for the Assembly to show its genuine commitment to its human rights principles.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was distressed to learn of serious, anonymous threats made against the Central Asia Program
Director of Human Rights Center Memorial, Vitaliy Ponomarev, on 12 January 2012 and urges Russian and Uzbekistani authorities
to open an investigation.
In a statement today the Civic Society Platform, which includes the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, condemned the December 19
raid on the premises of the Human Rights House in Voronezh by Russian police. The statement calls on the international community
to speak out against this and other cases of harassment against civil society in Russia.
On 19 December 2010, two years ago today, thousands of peaceful citizens gathered in central Minsk, protesting the oppression
and the stolen presidential elections. The protests were organised on the day of the last presidential elections officially
won by Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko has been in power since 1994.
Tblisi,10 November 2012: Grave crimes were committed during the war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008. The NHC documented
war crimes and crimes against humanity during and after the cessation of hostilities. In the years since, the NHC has investigated
in Georgia and Russia, trying to assess whether domestic investigations are on-going and effective.
The Moscow City Court today decided to exclude the Russian Justice Initiative from the list of international organisations
allowed to function in Russia. – The court decision sets an alarming precedence, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of
the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. It means that one of the biggest international human rights organisations in Russia is prohibited
from doing its important work. It opens up for more similar cases against other international organisations.
NHC together with partner organisations Civil Society Institute and The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) call
upon Armenian authorities to eliminate violations in the administration of justice and ensure the establishment of an independent
judiciary and the rule of law. These steps are fundamental to the further democratic development of Armenia, and should be
a prerequisite for any further engagement with the EU.
On 12th December 2012, Norwegian Helsinki Committee was among twelve civil society organisations supporting or conducting
citizens’ election observation in the states of the Eastern Partnership, the Russian Federation, Norway and the European Union
who launched the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) in Warsaw.
Bosnisk -serbiske Zadravko Tolimir ble 12.12.2012 dømt til livsvarig fengsel og funnet skyldig i blant annet folkemord ved
Srebrenica og i tvungen befolkningsforflytning fra Srebernica og Zepa i FNs krigsforbryterdomstol for det tidligere Jugoslavia
i Haag (ICTY).
In a letter signed by six human rights organizations, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, José Manuel Barroso,
President of the European Commission and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, are called upon to raise the
issue of Chinese poet, human rights defender and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo at the Nobel Peace Award Ceremony on 10 December
2012. The signatory organizations include PEN International, Front Line Defenders, Protection International, OMCT, International
Partnership for Human Rights, and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
The office of our partner in Belarus, prominent NGO 'Viasna', led by the imprisoned human rights defender Ales Bialiatski,
was confiscated on 26 November. The move was the last fulfilment of the illegal conviction of Bialiatski just over one year
ago. NHC has protested this last blow against Viasna through the network Civil Society Platform.
Tuesday 20.11 Sonja Biserko, founder and President of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, presented her book
"Yugoslavia’s Implosion" at The Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s seminar "Serbia - stuck in the past or proving EU worthy of
a peace prize?"
The seminar also featured Neil Campbell, head of EU policy development at the Open Society European Policy Institute in Brussels,
and Aage Borchgrevink, Norwegian author and senior advisor at the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Sonja Biserko thanked the
Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the publisher of the book, for being one of most important supporters of the HCHRS for two decades.
Oslo, 21.11: En ny lov trer i dag i kraft i Russland som krever at organisasjoner som mottar støtte fra utlandet må registrere
seg som utenlandske agenter. En rekke russiske organisasjoner har protestert mot loven, fordi den skaper et bilde av dem som
spioner eller agenter for fremmede stater. Den norske Helsingforskomiteen protesterer mot loven, som både mistenkeliggjør
menneskerettsorganisasjoner og begrenser handlefriheten deres.
After the May 2012 elections, former key allies of Slobodan Milosevic became Serbia’s Prime Minister and President. Their
declared goal is now EU membership. Is this goal credibly pursued by the new government? Does the process towards EU membership
warrant the Noble Peace Price to the European Union? Tuesday 20.11 we launch the book “Yugoslavia’s Implosion: The Fatal Attraction
of Serbian Nationalism” by Sonja Biserko, where she traces the roots of Serbia’s situation today.
Den norske Helsingforskomité tar avstand fra en ny ukrainsk lov som vil gjøre det forbudt å «propagandere for homoseksualitet»
og som i praksis vil kunne brukes til å stoppe all positiv omtale av homofili.
- We are concerned with the reports that a conference aiming at discussing freedom of the internet allows restrictions on
contributions from civil society – input that would contribute to a more open and relevant discussion, says Bjørn Engesland,
Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. - One would think that the authorities had learned from the discussions
that surrounded the Eurovision Song Contest that such restrictions and violations do not pass unnoticed, and do not reflect
positively on the country’s image.
The UN CEDAW committee is “seriously concerned about attitudes and policies reinforcing discriminatory traditional norms,
harmful practices and patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes […] in all spheres of life” in Turkmenistan.
Parlamentsvalget 28. oktober forsterker dessverre inntrykket av at Ukraina er i fred med å forlate Oransjerevolusjonens løfter
om mer demokrati. Fengsling av opposisjonspolitikere og og andre former for maktmisbruk er i ferd med å bli et alvorlig hinder
på veien til ukrainsk integrering i Europa, sier Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, assisterende generalsekretær.
On 15 October, the well-known Uzbek human rights activist Mutabar Tajibayeva participated in a joint NHC/NOAS seminar on Uzbekistan
in Oslo. More than 30 guests from immigration authorities, ministries and other interested attended the seminar and the following
movie screening aimed at shedding some light on the human rights situation behind the closed gates of Uzbekistan.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was disappointed to learn of the 7 ½ year prison sentence given to Kazakhstan opposition
leader Vladimir Kozlov on 8 October 2012. Kozlov is the head of the main opposition party in Kazakhstan, Alga (Forward).
– The Norwegian Helsinki Committee remains deeply concerned about the current human rights situation in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan,
which begs improvement on every aspect of fundamental human rights, says Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee,
Bjørn Engesland. Both states are counted amongst the most repressive not only in the Central Asian region, but also in the
world as a whole. Torture, political use of the judiciary and repression of media and civil society is widespread.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns today’s decision by the Serbian Authorities to ban Belgrade Pride 2012. This is
the third time that the parade has been banned. The parade, belonging to an international movement of peaceful celebrations
of diversity, is an important way to attract attention to the rights of equality before the law for all persons defining themselves
as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans and Intersex persons (LGBTI). Banning the parade indicates that Serbian Authorities are
not prepared to secure the rights to freedom of assembly and expression for one of Europe’s most vulnerable minorities.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is represented also at this years' OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw.
In our interventions at the meeting we will focus on the importance of independent judiciary drawing upon the examples of
the Sergey Magnitsky case in Russia and the case against several oppositionals in Western Kazakhstan, and also drawing attention
to governments' obligation to facilitate human rights eduaction, including by refraining from hindering participation by visa
Den hviterussiske politiske fangen, den anerkjente menneskerettighetsaktivisten og Nobelpriskandidaten fylles femti år i dag.
Over hele Europa blir hans fødselsdag markert, og Den norske Helsingforskomité slutter seg til en uke av gratulasjoner til
Ales. Ales Bialiatski, leder av den kjente menneskerettighetsorganisasjonen Viasna i Hviterussland ble i november i fjor tid
dømt til fire og et halvt års fengsel for skatteunndragelse samt til inndragning av eiendom.
Norge bør ratifisere den valgfrie protokollen til FNs torturkonvensjon og opprette et nasjonalt tilsynsorgan for tortur i
Norge, skriver Helsingforskomiteen sammen med Amnesty International i et høringssvar. -Tilsynet bør utføres av en ny nasjonal institusjon for menneskerettigheter som etableres som en sterk og uavhengig kommisjon
for menneskerettigheter, slik Helsingforskomiteen tidligere har gått inn for, sier Generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland.
In cooperation with local activists, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has submitted an alternative report to the Committee
on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s (CEDAW) 53 Session on 11 October, where Turkmenistan will be heard in
Foreningen GOLOS tildeles Andrej Sakharovs Frihetspris 2012 for sin fremragende innsats for å fremme demokratiske verdier
gjennom frie og rettferdige valg i Russland, sier generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland i Den norske Helsingforskomité i en pressemelding
Fortsett innsatsen for menneskerettigheter og demokrati på Vest-Balkan
(21/01-2011) Helsingforskomiteen peker på at fortsatt støtte til demokrati og menneskerettigheter trengs på Vest-Balkan. Rettsoppgjør
etter grove overgrep og styrking av sivilsamfunn med sterke og kritiske organisasjoner bør prioriteres, ikke minst i Kosovo
og Bosnia og Hercegovina, skriver komiteen i et brev til Utenriksdepartementet som innspill til arbeidet med en ny stortingsmelding
om norsk vestbalkanpolitikk.Stortingsmeldingen er ventet våren 2011.
I 35 år har Den norske Helsingforskomité arbeidet for demokrati og menneskerettigheter. Kampen er ennå ikke vunnet, men pågår
i dag. I denne kampen kan du bidra: Den norske Helsingforskomité trenger din støtte i kampen for menneskerettigheter i Europa!
På vegne av en rekke representanter for norsk sivilsamfunn, alle medlemmer i NGO-forum for menneskerettigheter, har Den norske
Helsingforskomité oversendt et brev til Statsminister Jens Stoltenberg, hvor organisasjoene tar opp en bekymringsverdig utvikling
når det gjelder åpenhet og deltakelse for frivillige organisasjoner i spørsmål som har med Norges internasjonale menneskerettighetsforpliktelser
Oppdatering 2. september 2012: Svar på brevet fra utenriksminister Jonas Gahr Støre kan leses nedenfor.
I et brev til Utenriksminister Jonas Gahr Støre, uttrykker Helsingforskomiteen sammen men en rekke norske organisasjoner bekymring
for prosessen rundt reetableringen av Nasjonal Institusjon for menneskerettigheter i Norge.
We are currently seeking a highly qualified person to be the regional coordinator of the (EU-funded) program “Coalition for
trust” in the South Caucasus. The aim of the program is to contribute to building knowledge and trust between people in a
region marked by conflict and human rights violations. Activities include education and training, network building, advocacy
- Five years on, there is broad consensus that the human rights dialogues established with the Central Asian governments and
other measures taken to implement the Strategy’s human rights objectives have not been as effective as desired. The overall
human rights situation in Central Asia has not improved in any substantial way and, in some respects, human rights protection
has even deteriorated in the countries of the region. NHC is among the signatories of an appeal to the European Union in occation
of the five year anniversary of the EU Central Asia strategy.
Helsingforskomiteens Enver Djuliman deltok i panel på Litteraturhuset i Oslo under den årlige markeringen av folkemordet i
Srebrenica den 11. juni. - Folkemordet i Srebrenica er ikke bare bosniakisk, det tilhører like mye serberne og kroatene, og
bevisstheten om og anerkjennelsen av de historiske realitetene er viktig for alle, sa Djuliman i sin innledning på seminaret.
A dedicated human rights defender and our good friend Boris Zvoskov, head of the Legal Initiative human rights association,
has died, after a prolonged disease. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has known and cooperated closely with Boris for over
ten years. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
In a letter addressed to Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre today, NHC express concern with recent developments in the Russian
Federation related to the on-going crackdown against opposition leaders and human rights activists, as well as the adoption
of restrictive legislation on public rallies. - President Putin pledged to inspire “greater participation of citizens in
public affairs” and to have “more consultations with different sectors of society about legal reforms” on the day of his inauguration,
Secretary Bjørn Engelsnad says. Recent developments stand in sharp contrast to these words.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee congratulates the organizers of Pride Parade “Equal – before the law” in Split this Saturday.
Despite fear of violent incidents, 600 persons managed to walk through the city and make the parade a celebration of human
rights and equality; the very nature of pride parades.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee participated in a picket in front of the Ukrainian Embassy in Oslo Monday, passing on a statement
to Counsellor Vitalii Pantus. The statement comes as a reaction to the recent violent attacks on a peaceful demonstration
organized by Ukrainian LGBTI organizations, where several activists were victims of violence. – We are concerned with the
development in many European countries. It seems to be a trend of violent intolerance that is unacceptable in countries that
are aspiring at rapprochement to Europe, hosting European Championships in Football, Olympic Games or applying for EU membership,
says Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.
In a letter sent today to the Federal Minister of Justice in Austria Dr. Beatrix Karl, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, together
with Human Rights Watch, Civil Rights Defenders, Austrian Helsinki Association, European Center for Constitutional and Human
Rights, and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), urges the Austrian government to request the extradition of
Lecha Bogatyrov from the Russian Federation. Lecha Bogatyrov is the man who allegedly fired the fatal shots that killed the
Chechen exile Umar Israilov on the streets of Vienna in January 2009. Three men were convicted 1 June 2011 by the Vienna Landesgericht
to long prison sentences for the killing of Israilov, but the current current impunity for Mr. Israilov’s alleged killer should
be treated as a political issue by the Austrian government.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee expresses full support for the Split Pride Parade “Equal before the Law”, which despite political
pressure and threats of violence will be organized on Saturday 9 June.
On 22 and 23 May, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court organized a seminar
in Almaty, Kazakhstan with participants from civil society in all five Central Asian republics.
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. In addition to our regular program, we
are glad to announce that additional grants have been allocated for smaller projects in Kazakhstan. These grants may be up
to 9,999 USD, and are intended to support projects in more outlying regions of the country. The deadline and other requirements
are the same.
The report “A Chronicle of Violence: The events in the south of Kyrgyzstan in June 2010 (Osh Region)”, published today, gives
a detailed chronology of the events in the Osh Province in the period 29 April to 15 June 2010, as well as an analysis of
available information and statistics related to the violence in the south of Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. The 200-page report
was prepared by Memorial Human Rights Center (Russia), the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (Norway) and Freedom House (USA).
On 16 April 2012, the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly Vanadzor, a partner organization of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, was
subject to harassment by a large crowd on the eve of a movie screening. Police authorities did not protect the human rights
defenders, and damage was made to the premises of the organization. Now, several international and regional organisations
have sent a letter to the Armenian authorities, urging proper investigation of the events and protection of human rights defenders
The International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (the IPGA), has launched its website www.AzerbaijanFreeXpression.org ahead
of this week’s Eurovision Song Competition in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee, present in Baku this week,
is a member of the coalition.
The campaign "Don't play with the dictator" has expressed disappointment with the decision by the International Ice-hockey
Federation IIHF confirming at its general assembly in Helsinki that the Republic of Belarus will host the 2014 IIHF World
As a Norwegian partner, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased with the implementation of the Oslo Freedom Forum 2012,
which took place 7 - 9 May. The 2012 Forum has been the best so far, and the NHC is proud to be associated with both the conference
and with its participants.
- Rettsaken er viktig fordi den gir landene i regionen en mulighet til å ta innover seg hvilke forbrytelser som faktisk ble
begått. Det er nødvendig for å bidra til en mer normalisert og tolerant samfunnsutvikling og til bedre relasjoner mellom landene
på Vest-Balkan. Dette viser at oppgjøret med krigsforbrytelser ikke er et kapittel som er lukket med utleveringen av de siste
ettersøkte fra Serbia til Haag, sier Helsingforskomiteens Balkanrådgver Ole Benny Lilleås.
- The most basic European value that Serbia needs is respect for the rule of law and legal procedure, said Sonja Biserko at
the seminar “Serbia at another crossroad” hosted by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, just four days before elections in Serbia.
Parliamentary elections on Sunday 6 May was the country’s first elections since the disputed 2008 Presidential elections that
led to strong protests and eight persons being killed by security forces. – There were a few improvements from previous elections,
but abuse of administrative resources and pressure on voters remained a serious problem, says Lene Wetteland, Advisor who
observed Sunday’s election. – Authorities had promised that elections would be conducted according to international standards.
But if you are told that your job depends on supporting the President’s party, you stop believing in such promises, she continues.
- Den nye regjeringen vil ha mange store utfordringer. Serbia har forpliktet seg til omfattende reformer på viktige områder
som diskrimineringsvern, frie medier og oppgjør med fortiden, men har så langt ikke demonstrert evne til å sørge for en reell
implementering av disse, sier Ole B. Lilleås, seniorrådgiver i Den norske Helsingforskomité som observerte søndagens valg
– The Tymoshenko and similar cases is part of a widespread and deep rooted problem in Ukraine, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary
General. Even though Ukrainian officials portray the cases as anti-corruption, they clearly form part of a pattern of selective
justice and political influence over the judiciary. It is important that Norway and other European governments and institutions
step up pressure to end these practices. Beginning in May 2010, a number of criminal cases were opened against former Prime
Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. On 11 October 2011 a court found her guilty of abuse of power, and sentenced her to seven years
Sunday 6 May citizens of Serbia will vote in presidential, parliamentary, regional and local elections. Even though it is
wider support for the need for European integration now than in 2008, it is obvious that the candidates struggle to prevent
that this ambition alienates voters.
A Just Russia party candidate in the 4 March 2012 mayor elections in Astrakhan, Oleg Shein, ended his 40 days hunger strike
on 24 April after receiving access to webcam videos from polling stations in Astrakhan. Shein and his supporters had filed
a law suit claiming that massive fraud had taken place during the elections. – The Central Election Commission should give
full access to videos in order to help investigation of all substantiated cases of fraud, says Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy
Presidential elections of 19 February 2008 and the subsequent unrest of 1 March, where 10 people lost their lives, and more
than hundred were arrested or injured. In the campaign leading up to the elections, President Sargsyan has on several occasions
stated the importance of free and fair elections. - It is of utmost importance that these promises are followed up by action,
says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Norwegian Helsinki Committee's Lene Wetteland
is in Armenia during the elections.
Den norske Helsingforskomité avholdt sitt årsmøte for styre og rådsmedlemmer den 26. april. Årsmøtet ga i årets uttalelse
bred støtte til det aktuelle forslaget om å innlemme menneskerettighetene i Grunnloven.
Authorities should take steps to initiate an open and inclusive process of revising the Bakiyev-era Religion Law, says Bjørn
Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. – The 2009 Religion Law fails to comply with the Constitution
and with international human rights standards. It severely restricts religious freedoms, including imposing registration requirements
that in effect ban registration of new religious communities other than the Orthodox Church and the Spiritual Board of Moslems.
Norsk PEN, Human Rights House Foundation og Den norske Helsingforskomité har i dag sendt brev til Utenriksdepartementet med
forslag til en ny strategi for Hviterussland. Forslagene er utarbeidet i rammen av vår kampanje "Aksjon Hviterussland" som
har som mål å øke norsk og internasjonalt engasjement for den menneskerettslige krisen i Hviterussland. Norge gjør mye riktig
i forholdet til Hviterussland, men det har lenge vært begrenset diplomatisk kontakt mellom landene. Norge støtter EUs sanksjonsregime
og gir økende økonomisk støtte til det hviterussiske sivile samfunn. Men vi etterlyser ytterligere tiltak og kreativitet for
å legge press på det hviterussiske regimet.
Together with several international human rights organisations, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee strongly condemns the brutal
attack on the Azerbaijani journalist Idrak Abbasov and four other journalists on 18 April 2012. In a letter adressed to President
Ilham Aliyev the NHC demands that the Azerbaijani authorities launch an immediate, independent and transparent investigation
into these brutal attacks. Read the letter in full below.
-Norge kan gjøre en forskjell i den postsovjetiske regionen, sier generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland. Nylig deltok Engesland i et møte sammen med andre menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner og ga innspill til utenriksminister Jonas
Gahr Støre for strategier for Russland, Hviterussland og Kasakhstan.
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), a global network of more than 2500 organizations including the
Norwegian Helsinki Committee, urges Kazakhstan to accede to the ICC Rome Statute. - Central Asia is significantly underrepresented
at the Court; only Tajikistan is a state party, said William R. Pace, Convenor of the CICC in a letter addressed to H.E. President
Nursultan Nazarbayev. - When Kazakhstan joins the international justice system established by the Rome Statute and represented
by the ICC, it will give the region a greater voice in the global fight to end impunity, and it will be an important step
forward nationally toward greater commitment to justice and accountability, he highlighted.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee has written a letter to the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs concerning the reform of the
European Court of Human Rights. The letter is part of a joint NGO action, led by Amnesty International and other leading European
human rights organizations, to campaign for safeguarding the integrity and the authority of the Court in these negotiations
and to ensure that it remains effectively accessible to individuals claiming to be victims of violations of their Convention
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development must maintain demands that Turkmenistan and Belarus meet set benchmarks before
any investment in the restrictive countries. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee today participated in a meeting at the European
Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, discussing the Bank’s calibrated approach towards Belarus and Turkmenistan.
The two authoritarian countries are the only cases in which the EBRD has initiated such an approach that allows for closer
monitoring of the progress or regress towards set benchmarks on political and economic reform, and more rapid response to
Today marks the launch of a new report by the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (IPGA), Running Scared: Azerbaijan’s
Silenced Voices. The report highlights the climate of fear and pervasive self-censorship in Azerbaijan, with few brave journalists,
bloggers and activists remaining. In the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku in May, the IPGA calls on the international
community to engage the Azerbaijani authorities on these issues now. The NHC is a member of the IGPA network, and you can
download the report below.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (IPGA) condemns the blackmail and continued
harassment of one of the few independent investigative journalists working in Azerbaijan, Khadija Ismayilova. The most recent
episode in the harassment campaign involves a one minute film of an intimate nature being posted on the internet on Wednesday
March 14). A week earlier Ismayilova said she had received a letter including intimate photographs and a threat, stating "Whore,
behave. Or you will be defamed”. Ismayilova has refused to give in to the blackmail attempts.
- Presidentvalget i Russland 4. mars var ikke fritt og rettferdig, sier generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland i Den norske Helsingforskomité.
Den norske Helsingforskomité (DNH) har fulgt valgprosessen gjennom vårt samarbeid med GOLOS, den mest erfarne uavhengige valgobservatørgruppen
i landet. To representanter fra DNH var dessuten til stede i Moskva valghelgen.
Norwegian PEN, Human Rights House Foundation and Norwegian Helsinki Committee invite you to the conference "Action on Belarus!"
in Litteraturhuset in Oslo on 22 March. We are proud to present prominent speakers from Belarus, Norway and European institutions,
including the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland and State Secretary of Foreign Affairs Torgeir
Larsen. The questions we aim to answer are: Is the pursued policy efficient? Is Norway’s policy towards Belarus clear enough?
How can we offer more support to freedom-longing Belarusians? And is the Belarusian people ready for a change?
Today marks the seventh anniversary of the murder of Monitor editor-in-chief Elmar Huseynov, who was fatally gunned down in
his apartment building in a well-organised attack in 2005. Since Elmar Huseynov’s murder, there have been dozens of violent
attacks against journalists in Azerbaijan, including the murder of prominent journalist and writer Rafig Tagi in November
2011. None of these attacks have been seriously investigated or prosecuted, resulting in a climate of impunity for those who
wish to use violence to silence critical voices. Elmar Huseynov's widow has complained the apparent inactivity of the Azerbaijani
Government to the European Court of Human Rights.
Three days ahead of the 4 March 2012 Presidential elections in Russia there is little doubt about the outcome. Despite increasing
public protests against prime minister Vladimir Putin, all indications suggest that he will declare victory, probably after
the first ballot. This will happen in an environment where free and fair elections are not possible. The Norwegian Helsinki
Committee (NHC) will be present in Moscow during the elections.
In late January and beginning of February, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee conducted a fact-finding mission to Hungary. Due
to recent concerns on threats to democratic rule in Hungary, expressed both by Hungarian and international observers, the
NHC wanted to get a better understanding of current legal and political developments in the country. This report presents
the findings from the mission, and contains the Norwegian Helsinki Committee's recommendations to the Government of Hungary,
the European Union and to the Norwegian Government.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is disappointed to learn that authorities in Kyrgyzstan have moved to block access to a highly
respected news agency covering the Central Asian region, Ferghana.ru. The decision is not only in breach of the country’s international obligations with respect to media freedoms, but stands in
contrast to the positive level of openness which has characterized Kyrgyzstan in recent years.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was delighted to learn Friday that prominent Kazakhstani human rights defender Evgeniy Zhovtis
was finally released from prison in Ust-Kamenogorsk. Having been amnestied after serving 2,5 years in prison following a highly
politicized trial in 2009, Zhovtis can now rejoin his family, friends and colleagues in Almaty.
- Putin will not survive the next presidential term. He will off course win the upcoming elections, he is in reality the only
candidate, but he will be replaced within two years. The Russian political elites will ensure this, together with the protesters
in the streets. This was one of the conclusions of Nicolay Petrov, who participated at The Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s
seminar Presidential Elections in Russia – a New Spring?, at the House of Literature in Oslo on 15 February.
Det olje- og gassrike Kasakhstan har lenge vore kjend som det best utvikla landet i Sentral-Asia, utan etnisk eller anna uro
og med stabil økonomisk utvikling. President Nasarbajev har styrt landet sidan 1989, og med referanse til stabilitet og økonomisk
framgang har både innbyggjarane og det internasjonale samfunnet stort sett latt Nasarbajev styre utan innblanding. Men så
gjekk ei gruppe oljearbeidarar i det vestlege Kasakhstan i mai 2011 i streik for å få den løna og arbeidsforholda dei meinte
dei hadde krav på etter lova. I sju månader var det ingen som brydde seg særskild om dei streikande, før dei skrekkelege nyhenda
kom den 16.desember 2011: minst 17 menneske var drepne og fleire skadde i opptøyar mellom streikande og politistyrkar i den
vesle byen Zhanaozen i ørkenen. Korleis kunne ein grunnleggjande arbeidskonflikt om lovregulert løn og arbeidsforhold gå så
The credibility of the upcoming Presidential Elections in Russia, already marred by the claims of widespread violations in
Parliamentary polls in December last year, is waning after Central Elections Commission’s refusal to register the liberal
opposition leader, Grigory Yavlinsky for the Presidential race. At the same time, renewed pressure against the respected election
monitor organization and NHC partner Golos is disquieting, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is disappointed to learn of raids and arrests of opposition politicians and journalists in
Almaty, Kazakhstan on 23 January 2012. The arrests are connected to the ongoing investigation of the events in Zhanozen on
16 December 2011.- Authorities seem intent on cracking down on remaining opposition rather than to carry out a transparent
investigation to establish responsibility for the many deaths during these tragic events, says Secretary General of the Norwegian
Helsinki Committee Bjørn Engesland.
On January 24, the cassation appeal against the verdict of the Pershamaiski District Court of Minsk, of Ales Bialiatski, Head
of the Human Rights Centre “Viasna” in Belarus, Vice-president of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and
one of the founders of the Belarusian Human Rights House in exile, left the sentence against Ales Bialiatski in force: 4.5
years imprisonment in a higher security colony and confiscation of properties. The latter disregards the fact that all the
taxes and penalties imposed on Ales Bialiatski have been fully paid by the time of the appeal hearing. The same day, "Viasna"
had to vacates their offices through almost twelve years.
Member organisations of the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (IPGA) are deeply concerned by the continued politically
motivated imprisonment of persons in Azerbaijan for exercising their right to freedom of expression. The IPGA calls on the
Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to take immediate action to ensure the release of these persons and
to hold Azerbaijan accountable for its obligations as a Member State.
Associate Professor of Law Mr. Jeffrey Khan has recently submitted a report to President Medvedev’s Human Rights Council analyzing
the second verdict against the imprisoned former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky.
The report The Impunity Syndrome in the Caucasus: The Situation of the Georgian-Russian conflict of August 2008, is a follow-up
of the report Unable or Unwilling? Georgia’s faulty investigation of crimes committed during the Russo-Georgian war of August
2008, which the NHC published earlier this year. The new report investigates the current situation and the latest developments
in the conflict, and it concludes that since Russian and Georgian investigations in relation to the August 2008 war have proven
ineffective, the Prosecutor of the ICC should at the very least require proof of progress in domestic investigations within
a defined timespan. Download the report below.
At least 14 people have been killed and 86 people wounded in clashes between police and demonstrators in the Mangistau region
in Western Kazakhstan. The unrest follows seven months of conflicts between striking oil workers and authorities, and reportedly
started in Zhanozen on 16 December, when people attacked a stage set up for the Independence Day event. – It is of paramount
importance that investigations into the clashes and the resulting deaths are conducted in an independent and transparent way,
said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General. – Efforts to find peaceful solutions to this conflict should be initiated, and these
efforts should be guided by fundamental human rights principles such as freedom of association and speech.
Demokrati- og menneskerettighetsforkjemperen Vaclav Havel døde søndag. – Med Vaclav Havels bortgang har Europa mistet en av
sine virkelig store demokratiske ledestjerner, en forkjemper for humanisme, menneskerettigheter og demokrati i Europa, sier
Bjørn Engesland, generalsekretær i Den norske Helsingforskomité.
On 19 December last year we witnessed thousands of peaceful citizens gathering in central Minsk, protesting the oppression
and the stolen presidential elections. That night all hope of progress was shattered as we saw police forces batter the protesters
and arresting them by the hundreds. Presidential candidates, opposition leaders, civil society leaders and unorganized citizens
were all herded into vans and brought to prison. Thousands fled, running away from soldiers and police beating indiscriminately.
Belarusian citizens keep running still a year later.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) is concerned with recently adopted legislation on religious organizations; coming into
force on 25 October 2011. – The legislation is very restrictive, violating international human rights on numerous points.
Prohibiting unregistered religious activities and establishing censorship of religious literature is clearly in breach of
human rights provisions on freedom of religion or belief. In addition, so far authorities have failed to present instructions
on how to abide by the law, says Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee held a regional meeting in Sarajevo about the program Build Bridges not Walls that has been
initiated at the universities in Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the role of the universities in peacebuilding with all interested parties in the program,
including university professors, student union representatives and NGOs.
- Russiske myndigheter må akseptere fredelige demonstrasjoner mot måten Duma-valget ble gjennomført på, sier Bjørn Engesland,
generalsekretær i Den norske Helsingforskomité. - Norge og EU-land må ta avstand fra arrestasjonene og oppfordre russiske
myndigheter til å etterforske brudd på valglovgivningen og respektere ytrings- og forsamlingsfriheten, fortsetter Engesland.
The tendency in the result of the voting yesterday nevertheless shows that the Russian population is getting wary of the tightfisted
rule of the Medvedev/Putin tandem, says Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Bjørn Engesland. -Independent
national observers all over the country have registered countless violations in the election legislation, including pressure
against voters to vote for the ruling party United Russia.
Russian authorities undermining trust in elections by impeding monitoring. In the run-up to Russian Duma elections taking
place on Sunday 4 December, the country’s most experienced election monitoring group is being under scrutiny by prosecutors
and pro-government media. –The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is concerned that these are deliberate attempts at hindering Golos
important work, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary-General. “By limiting monitoring of the elections, authorities are also undermining
trust in elections being conducted in compliance with international standards of freeness and fairness.”
The elections process ahead of the 4 December Duma elections in the Russian Federation has not been fair”, said Bjørn Engesland,
Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. “We have serious concerns on obstacles related to nomination of delegates
and registration of parties, as well as lack of equal opportunities to campaign.”
Prominent Azerbaijani journalist and writer, Rafiq Tagi, died in Baku on 23 November from the injuries he sustained during
a brutal knife attack four days earlier. Rafiq’s death on 23 November – the world’s first International Day to End Impunity–
is a chilling reminder of the dangers faced by journalists in Azerbaijan. As the Azerbaijan freedom of expression community
mourns the loss of Rafiq, the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (IPGA) calls for an end to the cycle of impunity
in the country and for an independent, impartial investigation into the circumstances surrounding his death.
Ales Bialiatski, leder av den kjente menneskerettighetsorganisasjonen Viasna i Hviterussland ble kl 09:45 norsk tid dømt til
fire og et halvt års fengsel for skatteunndragelse samt til inndragning av eiendom. Denne dommen er en skam for Europa, og
vi må stå samlet i vår fordømmelse av regimet i Hviterussland, sier Helsingforskomiteens generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland.
- Europeiske ledere, inkludert den norske regjeringen, må kreve umiddelbar løslatelse av Bialiatski.
- Den Europeiske virkeligheten er en flerkulturell virkelighet. Det må alle i Europa forstå og akseptere. Europa er avhengige
av 40-50 millioner flere innvandrere for å opprettholde vår levestandard. Denne realiteten står i skarp kontrast til en virkelighetsoppfatning
som er i ferd med å spre seg særlig blant høyreradikale i Europa, nemlig den at vi står overfor en trussel fra masseinnvandring.
Denne myten må avlives og arbeidet med å få alle til å forstå at vi lever i en flerkulturell virkelighet i Europa må forsterkes,
sa Generalsekretær i Europarådet Thorbjørn Jagland på konferansen Å leve sammen i ulikhet som Den norske Helsingforskomité
arrangerte sammen med NOAS og Amnesty på Litteraturhuset mandag. På konferansen var norske og internasjonale eksperter invitert
for å diskutere hvordan vi skal leve sammen i det flerkulturelle samfunn i det 21. århundre.
Having experienced economic growth, while granting limited freedoms to its population since independence in 1991, Kazakhstan
has recently been shocked by terrorist acts. In Atyrau, Western Kazakhstan, on 31 October four young men placed bombs close
to security service instalments. One of the four, a local resident, died when one of the bombs went off prematurely. In a
further serious development, on Saturday 12 November, a young man killed five law enforcement officers, two bystanders and
himself in a shooting spree in Taraz, Southern Kazakhstan.
In connection with today’s meeting in preparation of the upcoming meeting of the EU-Azerbaijan Subcommittee on Justice, Liberty,
Security and Human Rights and Democracy (Brussels, 24-25 November 2011) the Norwegian Helsinki Committee participates while
presenting a paper outlining some the main challenges of human rights in Azerbaijan. We have in particular emphasized the
deficiencies in the rule of law and the sharp increase in the number of political prisoners in the country. We also present
a list of political prisoners and bring up the lawless situation in the Autonomous republic of Nakhchivan.
En delegasjon av Helsingforskomiteer fra Norge, Albania og Serbia er denne uken i Kosovo for å undersøke forholdene for minoriteter
og deres rettsvern i Kosovo. Situasjonen er politisk sett mer tilspisset enn på lenge på grunn av konflikt om kontroll over
grensestasjoner i det nordlige Kosovo hvor flere personer er drept og veisperringer er satt opp. Delegasjonen skal blant annet
se på hvordan dette påvirker minoritetens stilling og trygghet og å påvirke ansvarlige myndigheter. Programmet omfatter besøk
til serbiske enklaver og bosetninger for Romabefolkningen i tillegg til politiske møter med en rekke parlamentarikere, innenriksministeren,
utenriksdepartementet, sentrale diplomater og internasjonale organisasjoner.
FNs Menneskerettighetskomité har nettopp gått gjennom Norges oppfyllelse av de sivile og politiske menneskerettighetene. På
en rekke punkter kommer komiteen med kritikk av Norge, og utrykker bekymring over at Norge ikke gjør mer for å ivareta sine
forpliktelser. Den norske Helsingforskomité, Advokatforeningens menneskerettighetsutvalg og Juss-Buss fulgte høringen og kom
med mange innspill til komiteen underveis i prosessen.
Flere menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner, deriblant Den norske Helsingforskomité og vår svenske søsterorganisasjon Civil Rights
Defenders, har blitt nektet visum for å kunne være på plass under rettssaken mot Ales Bialiatski, leder for organisasjonen
Viasna. Dette er enda et bevis på at rettssaken mot Bialiatski er politisk motivert.
In Kyrgyzstan, the previous Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev has received approximately 63% of the votes in Presidential
Elections that were found mostly free and fair by the observers. Violations in the electoral process were mainly related to
the voter’s lists, where a significant number of the voters could not find their name and thus could not vote.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee has written a letter concerning a forthcoming lecture by Milorad Dodik, President of Republika
Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Colombia University. The letter points to Colombia University's responsibilities to
challenge Mr Dodik on his denials of genocide in Srebrenica as well as his obstructions of war crimes prosecutions in Bosnia
Norwegian Helsinki Committee is among nine international human rights NGOs signing a protest letter addressed to Belarusian
authorities today protesting further tightening the conditions for civil society activity in Belarus. We believe that the
new amendments constitute a grave threat to civil society in Belarus.
Litteraturhuset, Wergelandsalen, 24. oktober klokken 12.00-16.00.
Mandag 24. oktober - FN-dagen - inviterer papirløskampanjen til en halvdagskonferanse på Litteraturhuset i Oslo. Fokuset er
argumentene for å gi opphold til papirløse – og argumentene for ikke å gjøre det.
Storbritannia har nettopp føyd seg til den lange listen av land som har gitt opphold til større grupper av lengeværende papirløse,
mens Polen har vedtatt en bred regularisering for papirløse i 2012. Med sin harde linje overfor papirløse forblir Norge et
unntaksland. Vi har invitert flere innledere til å fortelle hvorfor Norge bør finne en løsning for de papirløse – og hvorfor
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is concerned about the Serbian National Security Council’s decision to ban all public gatherings
on 2 October 2011. The decision, as intended, effectively led to a ban on Belgrade Pride 2011. We are concerned regarding
the development in this case specifically, and the situation for LGBTI people in Serbia generally. In a letter sent to the
President of Serbia Boris Tadić today, we condemn the ban and call for concrete measures to ensure that Belgrade Pride can
take place in 2012. The NHC has also encouraged the Norwegian Embassy to Serbia and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
to make it clear to Serbian authorities that such a ban is not acceptable. Read the letter below.
Two new laws restricting freedom of religion or belief has passed through the Maijilis (lower house) and the Senate of the
Parliament at great speed (21 and 29 September, respectively), without including consultation with civil society or other
relevant stake holders. – The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) is concerned with the rapid passage as well as the restrictive
nature of the new laws, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the NHC. – The way to prevent violent religious extremism
is not to restrict freedom of religion. There are plenty of examples showing that undue restrictions are counterproductive
in this regard.
On 7 October 2006, the courageous Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was shot and killed at the entrance of her apartment
in Moscow. Since then, neither the murderers nor any possible assassin's paymaster have been convicted. Anna Politkovskaya
was not only a journalist; she fought for the victims of the conflict in North-Caucasus by making their stories known to the
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is actively and well represented at this years' OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
in Warsaw. In our interventions at the meeting we will focus on freedom of religion in Central Asia, rule of law in Azerbaijan,
Belarus and Bosnia and Herzegovina, and freedom of expression in Macedonia, Bosnia and Serbia. We are organising a side-event
on lack of justice after major human rights violations in Russia, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Additionally we organise
a side-event on strikers' rights in Kazakhstan and we are also co-organising a side-event with particular focus on Ales Bialiatski
and the release of political prisoners in Belarus. Below you will find links to the HDIM webpage, all documents from our side-events
and interventions and other relevant links.
The appeal case of Natalya Sokolova, legal representative of a trade union formed by employees of the Karazhanbasmunbay oil
company in the Aktau region of Kazakhstan, is proceeding these days in Aktau, Western Kazakhstan. - The appeal hearing should
lead to immediate release of Mrs Sokolova, says Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.
(25/01-2011) Fredag 21. januar 2011 ble tre demonstranter drept og 55 personer skadet i Tirana. Den norske Helsingforskomité
krever en nøytral etterforskning av dødsfallene og stiller oss bak oppfordringer til de politiske partiene i Albania til ikke
å påvirke etterforskningen.
FNs Menneskerettighetskomité skal ta opp Norge 24. og 25. oktober og vil deretter komme med anbefalinger til hvordan forpliktelsene
etter FNs konvensjon om sivile og politiske rettigheter bedre kan oppfylles. Helsingforskomiteen har sammen med andre norske
frivillige organisasjoner skrevet brev til komiteen. Brevet omhandler blant annet Dublin-returer, rettshjelp, barnets beste
i utlendingsforvaltningen, behandlingen av asylsøkerbarn og systemet for bistand til torturofre. Brevet er en oppfølging av
en større rapport som organisasjonene sendte til FN-komiteen tidligere i år.
The office of the NGO Institute for Peace and Democracy led by prominent human rights defender Leyla Yunus was demolished
totally within an hour starting around 8:30 p.m. local time last night. The building was privately owned by Leyla Yunus and
her husband, the historian Arif Yunus. Bulldozers arrived without warning and within little more than an hour nothing was
left of the building that for years served as the premises for important human rights activity in Azerbaijan, including a
crisis center for women and fight against the extensive violation of property rights.
In an important new General Comment, the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) has provided an up to date and authoritative interpretation
of the freedoms of opinion and expression guaranteed by Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Natalya Sokolova, legal representative of a trade union formed by employees of the Karazhanbasmunbay oil company in the Aktau
region of Kazakhstan, has been sentenced to six years of imprisonment. - The verdict should be revoked, says Secretary General
A closed down TV station, three closed downed independent newspapers, as well as prospects of more restrictive legislation,
cause worry of the situation of media freedom in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. “Regardless of whether the tax
evasion cases raised against the media outlets and their owner are well-founded, Macedonian authorities should avoid silencing
independent media critical of the government”, said Norwegian Helsinki Committee Advisor Ole B. Lilleås. “The amounts demanded
and the conditions of payments seem to be designed to silence critical media.”
Yesterday, August 4, Ales Bialiatski, the head of Human Rights Centre (HRC) Viasna and the Vice- President of International
Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) was arbitrary detained in Minsk. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned with
Ales Bialiatski's detention, and Secretary General Bjørn Engesland says "We will demand the immediate release of our colleague
and good partner Ales Bialiatski by using all appropriate means we have."
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is very disappointed that the human rights activist and laureate of the Sakharov Freedom
Award Evgeniy Zhovtis on 2 August again was rejected in his appeal for early release.
Amnesty International Norge og Den norske Helsingforskomité har i et felles brev bedt norske myndigheter om å etablere en
sterk nasjonal institusjon for menneskerettigheter som er i samsvar med FN-standarder.
The NHC is pleased to announce a contest for project proposals aiming at improving the situation regarding human rights, democratization
or civil society in Central Asia. All organizations in the region with project proposals related to human rights, democratization
or strengthening of civil society may apply. At the same time, we encourage projects targeting political rights in
Kazakhstan, minority rights in Tajikistan, and reconciliation and protection of basic human rights after the Osh events in
Helsingforskomiteen har hatt en aktiv og begivenhetsrik vår. Mens revolusjonsånden har svevet over Nord-Afrika og Midt-Østen
har vi måttet konstatere at mange av de tidligere Sovjetrepublikker fortsetter å stramme grepet, og at det er en bekymringsfull
utvikling også på Vest-Balkan. Den norske Helsingforskomités innsats for menneskerettighetene i mange land har blitt lagt
merke til både i Norge og internasjonalt. I vårt nyhetsbrev har vi valgt noen få av de mange sakene vi har vært engasjert i denne våren. Den norske Helsingforskomité ønsker deg en god sommer!
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Ytterligere to ansatte i Helsingforskomiteen ble i går nektet innreise til Hviterussland. Olga Shamshur og Inna Sangadzhieva
skulle sammen med sin kollega Berit Lindeman møte våre partnerorganisasjoner i Minsk. Berit Lindeman fikk adgang, mens Olga
Shamshur og Inna Sangadzhieva ble nektet innreise.
On Tuesday, a Moscow court ruled to acquit Oleg P. Orlov, Chair of the Memorial Human Rights Society, one of Europe’s most
respected human rights groups. Mr. Orlov was charged with defamation against Chechen President Ramzan A. Kadyrov, in connection
with statements Orlov made at the time Memorial employee and award winning human rights defender Natalya Estemirova was killed
in 2009. - I welcome the ruling in our colleague Oleg Petrovich’s case as a step in the right direction for a judicial system that
historically has lacked willingness to support and protect human rights defenders, says NHC Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.
Today, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee was present at an award ceremony at the Nobel Institute in Oslo, where the laureates
of the Fritt Ord Prize: Free Press in Russia and the Gerd Bucerius Prize: Free Press of Eastern Europe received their awards.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee had nominated three of the six laureates: The Newspaper Chernovik of Dagestan, Russia, the
journalist Zamin Haji of Yeni Müsavat and Azadliq, Baku, Azerbaijan and The News Portal A1+, Yerevan, Armenia.
Last week, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee hosted a delegation of Azeri, Belarusian, Russian and international human rights
defenders. They took part in seminars arranged by the NHC at the Norwegian parliament Stortinget and the Fritt Ord Foundation.
In their recomendations to the Committee of Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the PACE and Stortinget, they called for a sharpening
of human rights policies towards Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia.
Helsingforskomiteen la tirsdag frem sine hovedsynspunkter på norsk politikk på Vest-Balkan for Utenriks-og forsvarskomiteen
på Stortinget. Høringen ble arrangert i forbindelse med den nylig publiserte Stortingsmeldingen Norsk innsats for stabilitet
og utvikling i Sørøst-Europa. Helt sentralt for Helsingforskomiteen er styrking av demokrati, menneskerettigheter, rettstatsprinsipper
og fremme av forsoning på Vest-Balkan.
- The Norwegian Helsinki Committee would like to extend its sincerest congratulations to Svetlana Alekseevna Gannushkina,
who yesterday became a Knight of the French Legion of Honour,” says Secretary-General Bjørn Engesland.
This week the Ombudsman of Kazakhstan Askar Shakirov and a delegation of two are visiting Norway on invitation by the Norwegian
Helsinki Committee. The Ombudsman will meet with various ombudsman institutions in Norway, the National Institution and the
Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply distraught to learn of yet another violent attack on human rights activist and
employee of Human Rights Center Memorial, Bakhrom Khamroev, in Moscow on Monday June 6th 2011.
The Court in Vienna is to reach a verdict on the murder of the refugee who accused Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov of torture
today, on 1 June 2011. On the eve of the verdict the coalition of human rights groups monitoring the trial wants to emphasize
the importance of this emblematic case and expresses its regret at the absence of cooperation of the Russian Federation with
the Austrian justice.
Helsingforskomiteen har overlevert notat til statssekretær Espen Barth Eide med en rekke anbefalinger for hvilke spørsmål
den norske delegasjonen må reise med Aserbajdsjan 6. - 8 juni samt konkrete forslag til program. Vi har navngitt flere politiske
fanger som bør løslate. Vi har blant annet foreslått at delegasjonen besøker den nylig løslatte redaktøren Eynulla Fattulayev
og oppsøker graven til den myrdede Elmar Huseynov. Notatet er også sendt til Olje-og energiminister Ola Borten Moe og til
Kronprins Haakon. Barth Eide har lovet å strekke seg langt for å få løftet menneskerettigheter på agendaen under besøket i
Eynulla Fattulayev returned to his home last night after spending more than four years in prison in Azerbaijan for writing
articles critical to the regime. The European Court of Human Rights demanded his release more than one year ago, instead,
however, he was convicted of further charges. The NHC is pleased to congratulate Eynulla and welcome him back to freedom.
The case shows that pressure against the authorities works. The pressure must continue.
- Helsingforskomiteen ser fram til at Ratko Mladic overleveres for rettsforfølgelse i Haag. Dette er en viktig dag for internasjonal
strafferett, uttaler generalsekretær i Helsingforskomiteen Bjørn Engesland.
- Stagnasjonen vi nå opplever i Bosnia & Herzegovina er svært bekymringsfull. Forsoningsprosessen har stoppet opp, og de kreftene
som motarbeider forsoning har i større grad fått innflytelse. Det internasjonale samfunnet må bistå Bosnia & Herzegovina i
arbeidet med reformer som kan sikre et velfungerende justisvesen og rettsstat, og dermed hindre en ytterligere negativ utvikling,
sa Presidenten i Bosnia and Herzegovinas domstol Meddzida Kreso på det godt besøkte seminaret som Helsingforskomiteen arrangerte
mandag på Litteraturhuset i Oslo.
(24/09-2010) With the ascension of Dmitry Medvedev to the Russian presidency, a new kind of political rhetoric entered the
Kremlin. Medvedev says he wants to combat legal nihilism, and has pledged reform and modernization. Do the modernization plans
offer possibilities for Russian human rights groups, asked Secretary General Bjørn Engesland in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee
in his introduction at a public seminar organised by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee on 22 September.
I et brev til H.K.H Kronprins Haakon ber Den norske Helsingforskomité om at H.K.H. Kronprinsen velger ikke å delta som planlagt
ved åpningen av den årlige olje- og gassmessen International Caspian Oil & Gas Exhibition & Conference 6.-7.juni 2011 i Baku,
Aserbajdsjan, da deltakelsen vil kunne gi signaler som kan misbrukes av ett av Europas siste og mest autoritære regimer. Raftostiftelsen
og Human Rights House Foundation slutter seg til anmodningen til Kronprinsen.
The NHC is pleased to announce a contest for project proposals aiming at improving the situation regarding human rights, democratization
or civil society in Kazakhstan. Additionally, the NHC also announces vacancy as assistant to Program Manager of the NHC Representative
Office in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
During a meeting with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, in Oslo on May 5 NHC raised the
need for the Human Rights Commissioner to engage actively in the crisis in Belarus. The Human Rights Center Viasna's office
was raided while presenting a report on 19 December and following events just hours before the meeting with Pillay.
An extensive five-day training seminar for Belarusian journalists opens in Vilnius today. We also issue an appeal to the UNESCO
Director-General Irina Bokova to put forward an initiative for the release of imprisoned Azerbaijani editor Eynulla Fattullayev.
Onsdag 13. april 2011 reiste stortingsrepresentant Torbjørn Røe Isaksen (H) spørsmål til justisminister Knut Storberget om
hvilke tiltak norske myndigheter har satt i verk for å sikre at romanifolk/tatere som har lidd overlast på norske barnehjem
faktisk har fått oppreisning. - Helsingforskomiteen mener dette er et viktig spørsmål for den norske politikken i forhold
til romanifolket/taterne. Et hovedproblem er at mange av taterne som havnet på barnehjem mangler dokumentasjon, fordi norske
institusjoner har makulert papirer eller fordi plasseringen ikke var hjemlet i lovlige vedtak, sier assisterende generalsekretær
Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal.
In its 8 April 2011 evaluation of Norway, the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD)
points to issues in a range of policy fields, including limited psycho-social health care for refugees, the need to protect
the Sami population from negative effects of activities by transnational corporations, and to strengthening prevention of
discrimination against Roma and Romani/Tater.
In the NHC's 2010 Annual Report, you can read about the total breakdown of human rights in Belarus, the democratic revolution
in Kyrgyzstan and the violent tragedy of its aftermath and the international conference the NHC arranged in Oslo to put Russia
on the agenda. The annual report also gives an account of the developments in all the countries and regions the NHC is involved
in, in addition to an overview of all the NHC's activities in 2010.
At these exceptional times – when authoritarian regimes are falling or are under serious pressure by democratic forces in
the Middle East and North Africa – we witness that Europe’s last authoritarian states are successful in retaining control
and undermining democratic developments.
Annette Thommessens minnepris 2011 tildeles papirløse-kampanjen ”Ingen mennesker er ulovlige”, ved initiativtakerne Rune Berglund
Steen i Antirasistisk Senter og Jon Ole Martinsen i Selvhjelp for innvandrere og flyktninger, SEIF.
We encourage you strongly to write letters to the prisoners! We have met with released prisoners and the families of those
in prison, and they all say the same: Letters are both a great comfort and a protection as they make the authorities aware
that the prisoners are not forgotten. Please write to the addresses indicated in the description of each of the prisoners.
We also encourage you to contact us if you want to engage with support actions for one particular prisoner.
Today, five days after the landslide victory in disputed Presidential elections, President Nursultan Nazarbayev was inaugurated
at a ceremony in Astana. In the speech, he referred to congratulations received from world leaders, grateful to how these
congratulations “mean a wholehearted support not only for the choice of the people of Kazakhstan, but also for our strategic
Around 1000 protesters defied warnings and participated in the unsanctioned 2 April anti-government rally on the Fountain
Square in Central Baku, Azerbaijan. Riot police of the oil rich country were quick to disperse the rally with their usual
batons and arrested several dozens, including at least ten journalists.
- The 3 April Presidential elections in Kazakhstan failed to provide the citizens with a genuine choice of candidates, said
Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. - The incumbent, President Nursultan Nazarbayev, competed
with only three candidates, who clearly did not represent any alternative to his rule. Neither were there any serious political
debates about the country’s most pressing issues during the campaign period.
Norwegian NGO Forum for Human Rights, for which the Norwegian Helsinki Committee is the secretariat, has addressed recommendations
to Norway on human rights questions in the United Nations in 2011. The recommendations focus on five thematic questions and
five country situations, including Belarus and Turkmenistan.
(22/02-2011) I et brev til konstituert justisminister Grete Faremo ber NOAS, Amnesty og Helsingforskomiteen om å stanse tvangsretur
av asylsøkere fra konfliktområdene i Nord-Kaukasus i Russland inntil utlendingsforvaltningen etablerer en praksis som samsvarer
med rettspraksis og relevant landinformasjon. I tillegg ber organisasjonene justisministeren om å utvise varsomhet med å tvangsutsende
folk før de har fått reell mulighet til å klage endelige avslag inn for retten.
(16/02-2011) Norwegian Helsinki Committee the 16th of each month marks Day of Solidarity with Belarus. We demand from Belarusian
authorities the immediate release of all detainees held in the aftermath of the 19 December events and a total end to the
wave of arrests, harassment and searches of human rights activists, lawyers and journalists in Belarus.
(15/02-2011) Tolv norske organisasjoner har bedt Statssekretær Erik Lahnstein om en redegjørelse i forbindelse med prosessen
omkring tildelingen av et oppdrag for utredning av implikasjonene for Norge dersom Norge slutter seg til tilleggsprotokollen
til Konvensjonen om økonomiske, sosiale og kulturelle rettigheter.