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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.
Tomorrow, May 14, the 2013 Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF) will begin in Norway. Norwegian Helsinki Committee is one of five Norwegian
Speakers include Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, recently escaped blogger Ali Abdulemam, Nobel laureate Mario Vargas Llosa, Syrian war correspondent Jenan Moussa, Zimbabwean artist Owen Maseko, Tibetan prime minister Lobsang Sangay, Belarusian theater director Natalia Kaliada, Magnitsky Act originator Bill Browder, Malaysian lawyer and democracy advocate Ambiga Sreenevasan, Bangladeshi child marriage abolitionist Arzina Begum, Serbian nonviolent resistance leader Srdja Popovic, and Cameroonian musician and former political prisoner Lapiro de Mbanga.
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.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee presents a series of short documentaries about present and former political prisoners in Belarus, made by local filmmakers. The intention of the documentaries is to present the persons behind the names of the prisoners to a local as well as an international audience. We believe this is important to understand why we must continue to struggle for their release.
Golos to be first 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.
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.
NHC's Sentral-Asia kontor:
Det sentralasiatiske landet Usbekistan regnes som et av verdens mest brutale regimer. Det er i dag et mer eller mindre lukket land der hverken journalister eller menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner har tilgang. Ivar Dale, leder for NHCs kontor i Sentral-Asia, har derfor ikke anledning til å åpent undersøke menneskerettighetsbrudd i Usbekistan.