Address: Kirkegata 5, 0153 OSLO
Phone: 22 47 92 02
Fax: (+47) 22 41 60 76
Give us a gift: 5081 05 58927
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.
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.
The democracy- and human rights activist, Vaclav Havel, died on Sunday. - With Vaclav Havel's death, Europe has lost one of their great leading stars for democracy, a champion of humanism and human rights in Europe, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
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.
Bosnia & Herzegovina and Serbia:
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.
- Russian authorities should accept peaceful demonstrations against unfair elections, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. - Norway and EU countries should publicly urge Russian authorities to investigate violations of election legislation and respect freedom of expression and assembly.
State Duma elections:
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.”
Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI) and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee have the great pleasure of inviting you to a seminar on Albania - Domestic and International Challenges.
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.
Following a visit to Kosovo 13-18 November, a delegation of Helsinki Committees calls on authorities there to improve the rule of law and the fairness and efficiency of the justice systems for all, and to extend a hand to its minorities and demonstrate in practical terms that the local and central government takes care of the needs of its citizens. The recent events in the North of Kosovo, where severe unrest and violence has marked the KFOR removal of barricades, demonstrates the need for Prishtina and Belgrade to seriously engage to avoid further escalation in conflict levels and inter-ethnic tension.
Ales Bialiatski, the head of the well-known human rights organization Viasna in Belarus this morning sentenced to four and a half years in prison and confiscation of property for tax evasion. - This verdict is a shame for Europe, and we must all stand together in our condemnation of the regime in Belarus, said NHC Secretary General Bjørn Engesland. - European leaders, including the Norwegian government, must demand the immediate release of Bialiatski.
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.
Azerbaijan - EU:
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.
Representatives from human rights organisations, including Civil Rights Defenders, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Human Rights House Foundation, Front Line Defenders and International Partnership for Human Rights, have been denied visa for travel to Belarus and cannot attend the trial of Ales Bialiatski, leader of the human rights organisation Viasna. This clearly shows that the trial is politically motivated.
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 and Herzegovina.
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.
Serbia granted candidacy status to the European Union:
Serbia has today been granted candidacy status to the European Union, and the negotiations on membership will start in December if Serbia resumes the stalled dialogue with Pristina to resolve the situation in Kosovo.
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 2 October a Baku court convicted Arif Hajili, Chairman of the Musavat Party, Tural Abbasli, head of Musavats youth wing and Mahammad Majidli of the Popular Front Party to two and a half years in prison. They were convicted for “promoting social unrest” in connection with the 2 April pro-democracy protests. Their convictions adds to an already long list of political convictions in Azerbaijan in 2011, and comes just days after the Norwegian Helsinki Committee called for the release of Azerbaijani political prisoners at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation meeting in Warsaw, Poland.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee regrets the decision of the National Security Council of the Serbian Parliament to ban Belgrade Pride 2011. The statement made by the Serbian president Boris Tadić that “This way the citizens and members of the LGBT* population are protected” is a clear indicator that the rights of sexual and gendered minorities are still not being taken seriously by Serbian authorities.
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.
Imprisoned Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski turned 49 yesterday. Ales was forced to celebrate his birthday behind bars, despite calls from UN, from EU and all over the world for his release.
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.
The European Parliament adopted on 14 September a resolution on the arrest of the Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski. The Parliament demand the immediate and unconditional release of Bialiatski as well as all other political prisoners in Belarus.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee Deputy Secretary General, Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal and Advisor, Inna Sangadzhiyeva visited Russia from September 5 to September 9, 2011.
Release political prisoners in Belarus!:
The first week of September, Norwegian Helsinki Committee in cooperation with the International Partnership for Human Rights, Brussels, addressed the members of the European Parliament about the the human rights crisis in Belarus. We did this in view of a September 13 discussion of an urgent resolution concerning the arrest and imprisonment of the prominent Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski. In addition, NHC has together with several international human rights organisations written a letter to the national delegations participating in the Interactive Dialogue with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Belarus.
- The Norwegian Helsinki Committee deeply regrets that Albania has taken a step backwards at a time when fair elections that could enjoy the confidence of all Albanians were needed”, said Ole B Lilleås, advisor with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, who observed the 8 May 2011 local elections in cooperation with the Albanian Helsinki Committee for Human Rights. The AHC recently concluded that the elections did not meet international standards in a thorough report based on extensive observation throughout the country.
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 Bjørn Engesland.
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.
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 Kyrgyzstan.
Yesterday the NHC officially opened its representative office in Almaty, Kazakhstan. – I hope and expect that the office will play a constructive role in the civil society of Kazakhstan, said Secretary General Bjørn Engesland in his welcoming address.
Elena Bonner, the wife of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Andrei Sakharov, and herself a prominent human rights activist and laureate of the Thorolf Rafto Prize, passed away on 18 June.
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
- 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.
Azerbaijan, Belarus and Russia:
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.
- 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.
Russian Federation/Central Asia:
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.
How can we combine the agenda of bilateral business relations with the active promotion and defense of human rights?
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.
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.
Today the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) publishes a new report on Georgia with the title, Unable or Unwilling? Georgia’s faulty investigation of crimes committed during the Russo-Georgian war of August 2008. Based on interviews with a large sample of witnesses to and victims of alleged crimes, the NHC concludes that Georgian authorities are at least both partly unable and partly unwilling to conduct an effective investigation into crimes falling within the jurisdiction of International Criminal Court (ICC) allegedly committed during and after the August 2008 war.
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 Norwegian Helsinki Committee strongly condemns the sentencing of a string of important democracy fighters in Belarus the last few weeks.
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.
Statement from the NHC annual meeting 2011:
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.
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.
Belarus - updated 20 October 2013:
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.
An international workshop 9-11 March 2011 in Oslo recommends strengthening human rights concerns in evaluation and monitoring management of world heritage sites.
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 course”.
The report "Turkmenistan: Dashoguz Women’s Prison Colony" gives a unique look into the everyday life in the women’s prison colony in the city of Dashoguz, in the very north of Turkmenistan.
Bakhtiyar Hajiyev is a 29-year old Harvard-graduate who organized the Facebook-event "Great Peoples Day" on March 11, calling people to join the Facebook-group and to protest the government. Officially, he was convicted for evading military service. However, with this sentence, the Azerbaijani Government has added another political prisoner to its already long list of convicted activists and journalists.
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.
The verdict in the case of murdering the Russian lawyer Stanislav Markelov and the journalist Anastasia Baburova is finalized. On May 6, 2011, after more than two years of investigation and lengthy court hearings, the persons, accused of their murder, were convicted.
Bjørn Engesland, secretary general of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has today sent a letter to Lyudmila Alexeeva, co-founder and leader of the Moscow Helsinki Group (MHG) congratulating the Russian human rights organisation on its 35 years' anniversary.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee is one of the partners of the Oslo Freedom Forum 2011 currently taking place here in Oslo.
The International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (IPGA) condemns the 4 May 2011 conviction of youth activist Jabbar Savalan, who was sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment on politically motivated charges of drug possession. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is among the NGOs behind the statement comdemning the latest conviction of a youth activist in Azerbaijan.
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.
NHC advisor Ole Benny Lilleås travels to Albania to observe the local elections taking place on 8 May.