| Den norske Helsingforskomité

Open Letter to the President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka

Belarus:

Open Letter to the President of the Republic of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka

We strongly condemn the continuing wave of detentions and harassment of peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights defenders, civil society activists, anarchists and opposition party members in Belarus. More than 250 people have been detained since 3 March, and several detentions have been carried out with excessive use of force. On the eve of planned demonstrations in Minsk and several other places in Belarus on 25 March, we urge President Lukashenka to abide human rights principles.

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Submission to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

NGO-Forum for human rights:

Submission to the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

The Norwegian NGO forum issued a Submission for the Day of General Discussion on a draft General Comment on State Obligation under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The paper draws the attention to the increasing trend by States Parties of the Covenant in giving priority to private sector development and investments as part of international development cooperation. This trend must be accompanied by increased efforts by states of ensuring that human rights principles are respected fully by private sector actors taking part in international development cooperation.

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Release woman political prisoners!

Political prisoners:

Release woman political prisoners!

On occasion of the International Women’s Day the Norwegian Helsinki Committee issued a statement calling on the government of Uzbekistan to immediately and unconditionally free five woman political prisoners. These women languish in prison in for no other reason than their legitimate and peaceful activities, and the charges against them are trumped-up and must be dropped, the NHC said.

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Polish Government Undermines Rule of Law

Poland:

Polish Government Undermines Rule of Law

NHC has signed on to an Open Letter to the European Union College of Commissioners regarding the situation in Poland. The letter urges the College to pursue the enforcement action against the government of Poland under the Article 7 of the EU treaty, as the government of Poland continues to undermine the rule of law. NHC supports the letter in the framework of our membership in the International Federation for Human Rights, FIDH.

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Sunday's "elections" in Turkmenistan cannot be called honest, transparent and fair

Turkmenistan:

Sunday's "elections" in Turkmenistan cannot be called honest, transparent and fair

Today, the Turkmenistan Civic Solidarity Group issues a statement regarding Sunday's Presidential "Elections" in Turkmenistan. In it, the organisations urge all interested parties, including the OSCE and other international organizations, to take a principled stance and to not recognize the presidential “elections” in Turkmenistan as free, transparent, fair, competitive, and in accordance with international standards.

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The harassment of NGOs by the Hungarian government must stop

Hungary:

The harassment of NGOs by the Hungarian government must stop

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is seriously concerned for the future of Hungarian NGOs working for the protection and promotion of democracy and human rights, for marginalized groups and transparency. Legislation which has recently been proposed by the Hungarian Government will, possibly unconstitutionally, target and paralyze non-government organisations that receive grants from foreign funds.

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Rights groups demand justice for tortured journalist Mehman Huseynov

Azerbaijan:

Rights groups demand justice for tortured journalist Mehman Huseynov

The undersigned organisations, including the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, strongly condemn the abduction and torture of Azerbaijani journalist Mehman Huseynov and call on Azerbaijan’s authorities to immediately investigate the case and to hold those responsible accountable. Moreover, Huseynov’s conviction should be overturned and the travel ban against him lifted.

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Georgia must enable access to justice for victims of 2008 war

Statement:

Georgia must enable access to justice for victims of 2008 war

Human Rights Center (HRIDC), Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) call on the Georgian authorities to take concrete steps towards accountability for crimes committed during 2008 war, including, renew investigative activities, ensure access of victims of the August 2008 war to their national case file and renew communication with the victims in order to respect their rights to effectively participate in national proceedings.

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The Attack on International Election Observers Must Be Properly Investigated (updated)

Georgia:

The Attack on International Election Observers Must Be Properly Investigated (updated)

During the first round of the Parliamentary Elections in Georgia on 8 October 2016, three international election observers were attacked and the vote count disrupted in the village of Jikhashkari. One observer was beaten and two others had their mobile phones taken away from them by force. It is vital that the incident is properly investigated.

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Concern Mounts for Long-Imprisoned Journalist Moved into Solitary Confinement

Uzbekistan:

Concern Mounts for Long-Imprisoned Journalist Moved into Solitary Confinement

Prison authorities in Uzbekistan have placed Muhammad Bekjanov, one of the world’s longest-imprisoned journalists, in solitary confinement, the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (AHRCA), Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and the Uzbek–German Forum for Human Rights (UGF) said today.

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A terrible miscarriage of justice: 10 years imprisonment for graffiti

Azerbaijan:

A terrible miscarriage of justice: 10 years imprisonment for graffiti

In another farcical day in a Baku court today, 21-year old activist Bayram Mammadov was sentenced to 10 years in jail. He was arrested simply for spraying graffiti, but was later tortured into confessing to serious drug crimes. Bogus drug possession charges to silence critical voices is not new in Azerbaijan, where the authorities widely plant drugs on their opponents to lock them up.

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Stop Crackdown on Freedom of Expression

Azerbaijan:

Stop Crackdown on Freedom of Expression

The government of Azerbaijan is carrying out a multi-pronged attack on freedom of expression, including introducing harsh penalties for critical speech online, imprisoning young activists for nothing more than graffiti, blocking access to websites of independent media, and harassing and violating the rights of journalists and activists. The undersigned organisations call upon the Azerbaijani authorities to reverse this alarming trend and respect basic human rights and freedoms, as well as for international partners to ensure Azerbaijan honours its treaty commitments as a state party to the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

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Authorities should promote youth civic engagement, not restrict it

Kazakhstan:

Authorities should promote youth civic engagement, not restrict it

-Authorities in Kazakhstan must ensure civil society organizations the freedom to fully carry out their activities in accordance with domestic law and international human rights standards, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. – In a recent development local authorities have aimed to thwart civic education events organized by the not-for-profit organization Youth Information Service of Kazakhstan (YISK).

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NHC condemns harsh sentence given to peaceful activists

Kazakhstan:

NHC condemns harsh sentence given to peaceful activists

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the five-year sentence given yesterday to peaceful activists Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan in retaliation for their peaceful protest against proposed amendments to the country’s land-law in April and May. The harsh prison sentence is in violation of the Constitution of Kazakhstan and the country’s international human rights obligations, and must therefore be quashed, the NHC said.

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Investigate torture and death in custody

Uzbekistan:

Investigate torture and death in custody

Uzbek authorities should ensure a thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the alleged torture of two brothers by the Uzbek National Security Service (SNB), and the death in custody of one of them, Human Rights Watch, the International Partnership for Human Rights, Freedom House, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today.

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Reject impunity: Don’t withdraw from the ICC

International Justice - FIDH:

Reject impunity: Don’t withdraw from the ICC

Declaration of FIDH and 100 Member and Partner Organisations

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Suspend Azerbaijan from EITI!

Azerbaijan:

Suspend Azerbaijan from EITI!

Letter to the Members of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Board on the Working Conditions of Civil Society in Azerbaijan:

In light of the upcoming review of Azerbaijan's status in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in October, the undersigned organisations call on the EITI Board to suspend Azerbaijan from participation in EITI, due to continuous breach of the initiative’s requirements for fostering an enabling environment for civil society. The letter is published jointly by 18 NGOs.

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Joint Preliminary Statement on the first round of the Parliamentary Elections on 8 October 2016

Georgia:

Joint Preliminary Statement on the first round of the Parliamentary Elections on 8 October 2016

(Berlin, Brussels, Oslo and Tbilisi, 9 October 2016) The joint international election observation mission of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC), European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), International Elections Study Center (IESC) and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and was established in Georgia on 12 September. On Election Day, the Mission deployed 36 international observers who visited more than 200 polling stations across the country. This preliminary statement summarizes our findings.

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Long Prison Terms for Rights Lawyers

Tajikistan:

Long Prison Terms for Rights Lawyers

Serious Blow to Independence of Legal Profession. – A court in Tajikistan on October 6, 2016, sentenced two prominent human rights lawyers to long prison terms, Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today

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Victory for the President in referendum

Referendum in Azerbaijan:

Victory for the President in referendum

Amid reports of fraud and pressure against voters, Baku's Central Election Commission has preliminary announced an overwheling victory for the amendments, which include an extension of the presidential term from five to seven years. The alarming consequences of the constitutional amendments after yesterday´s referendum will increase the power of the President, dramatically weaken democratic institutions and will further isolate and repress dissent in Azerbaijan. NHC has made a statement highly critical of the amendments and calls for sanctions against the regime.

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Authorities should protect Equality Festival

Ukraine/LGBTI:

Authorities should protect Equality Festival

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) asks that Zaporozhie Regional and City- Authorities protect the Equality Festival scheduled for 24 September. The organizers have been met with homophobic and transphobic threats from right wing extremists as well as protests from the City authorities, and the Jewish Community Center "Max Grant" that should have been the festival venue cancelled their contract due to fear of repercussions.

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Free Caucasian Knot journalist Zhalaudi Geriev!

Russian Federation:

Free Caucasian Knot journalist Zhalaudi Geriev!

In a statement published today, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, condemn the recent sentencing of Mr. Zhalaudi Geriev, a journalist of the Russian independent news portal Caucasian Knot on September 5, 2016 and demand his unconditional release. We are deeply concerned about a string of attacks against the freedom of expression in the region, which for years has been marred by violence and threaths agains journalists.

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Enforced Disappearances in Turkmen Prisons Must Be Stopped

International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances:

Enforced Disappearances in Turkmen Prisons Must Be Stopped

On this International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the Prove They Are Alive! campaign reaffirms its solidarity with all victims of disappearances in Turkmenistan’s prisons and their families, urges the Turkmen authorities to immediately end this gross violation of human rights, and calls on the international community to make the ending of enforced disappearances in Turkmenistan’s prisons a key condition for development of cooperation with the Turkmen government and firmly demand that Turkmenistan implement international legal norms and its obligations in the framework of these organisations.

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Renewed Human Rights Crackdown Ahead of Referendum

Azerbaijan:

Renewed Human Rights Crackdown Ahead of Referendum

Less than six weeks ahead of a constitutional referendum, the Azerbaijani authorities have unleashed a new wave of repression to silence critical voices. NHC, as a Sport for Rights coalition member, condemns this renewed crackdown, and and joins the call on the Azerbaijani authorities to take immediate steps to improve the human rights situation in the country, starting with the release of political prisoners.

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Political prisoner Ilgar Mammadov celebrates his 46th birthday in jail.

Happy birthday Ilgar:

Political prisoner Ilgar Mammadov celebrates his 46th birthday in jail.

Today, the opposition leader Ilgar Mammadov spends his 46th birthday in one of the vile prisons in Azerbaijan, prisons which have a history of housing dissidents. In May 2014, the European Court of Human Rights concluded, in a strongly worded judgment, that the actual purpose of Mammadov’s detention “was to silence or punish Mammadov for criticizing the government.” Citing that ruling, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has called repeatedly for Mammadov’s release. Yet the government, which controls the courts, the parliament and the media, remains deaf to the calls.

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Open letter on acid attack on justice-seeking mother

Turkmenistan:

Open letter on acid attack on justice-seeking mother

Nine human rights organizations have sent a joint open letter to Turkmenistan’s Prosecutor General regarding an appalling attack on Umida Jumabaeva, a justice-seeking mother. She was physically assaulted and had acid thrown at her by unknown perpetrators on 22 May 2016, leaving her with severe burns to her face and body. The context of the attack suggests that she may have been targeted in retribution for petitions she filed regarding her son, a military conscript. The signatories call for a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the attack, with due attention being given to this possible motive for the attack.

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Serious restrictions of civic election observation in Armenia

Armenia:

Serious restrictions of civic election observation in Armenia

The Draft Electoral Code of the Republic of Armenia was adopted by the National Assembly of Armenia in its third reading on 25 May 2016. - This is very disappointing, taking into consideration all the domestic and international organisations which have criticized the proposed amendments, said Lene Wetteland, senior adviser for Armenia in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.

"In its current form it will significantly limit the effective monitoring of elections and referenda in Armenia, only 6 months after the referendum on constitutional amendments received substantial criticism and illustrated the need for such monitoring. We support the call for immediate amendments to the Draft Electoral Law published by Armenian organisations yesterday," Wetteland concluded.

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End Enforced Disappearances

Turkmenistan:

End Enforced Disappearances

On the occasion of the International Week of the Disappeared, the human rights campaign “Prove They Are Alive!” calls upon the government of Turkmenistan to shed light on the fate of dozens who have been imprisoned for more than a decade, and to immediately halt the practice of enforced disappearances. The government of Turkmenistan should inform the relatives of the disappeared of their fate and whereabouts and allow them access to their loved ones without further delay.

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Khadija Ismayilova Freed!

Azerbaijan:

Khadija Ismayilova Freed!

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision in Azerbaijan to release Azerbaijan’s leading investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova. It’s indeed happy news to those who know Ismayilova and her important work as a courageous journalist and civil society leader tirelessly exposing corruption in Azerbaijan, including activities involving the members of the president Aliyev’s family. Her reporting had caused her arrest in December 2014.

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NHC congratulates Lev Shlosberg with the first Boris Nemtsov Prize

Russia:

NHC congratulates Lev Shlosberg with the first Boris Nemtsov Prize

The Boris Nemtsov Foundation presents an annual award to a person who is particularly committed to fighting for the freedom of expression and helping those who are persecuted on political, racial or religious grounds in Russia. The first prize is given to the opposition politician Lev Shlosberg for his fight for democratic values in the Russian Federation.

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NHC makes a submission on human rights in Turkey to the European Commission

Turkey:

NHC makes a submission on human rights in Turkey to the European Commission

Upon invitation, NHC has made a submission to the European Commission Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations. The submission points out that the situation of civil and political rights in Turkey has deteriorated in 2015-2016. Some of the actions and statements of senior politicians – including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – led to an erosion of the rule of law. In particular, the media and the judiciary were under pressure by the executive power. The submission also points to challenges related to refugees, freedom of religion and belief and LGBTI. It raises concerns that the end of the Kurdish peace process will lead to further detoriation of respect for human rights.

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Free activists and allow peaceful protests to take place

Kazakhstan:

Free activists and allow peaceful protests to take place

Authorities in Kazakhstan must immediately release all peaceful activists arrested ahead of planned protests on May 21, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Adil Soz, International Legal Initiative and Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said in a statement today.

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Grant Journalist Bail

Kazakhstan:

Grant Journalist Bail

Stop Harassment, Ensure Fair Trial: The prosecution of an independent journalist on charges of “disseminating false information” will commence before a court in Almaty, capital of Kazakhstan, on May 5, 2016, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today. Authorities detained Guzyal Baidalinova, 47, a journalist and the owner of Nakanune.kz, an independent online news site, on December 23, 2015 as a suspect in the case, and have held her in pre-trial detention since her formal arrest three days later, despite multiple requests for bail.

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Tajikistan: Free Human Rights Lawyers

Tajikistan:

Tajikistan: Free Human Rights Lawyers

Respect Independence of Legal Profession: Oslo, May 3, 2016: Tajik authorities should immediately and unconditionally release four human rights lawyers and two sons of another prominent lawyer who are imprisoned or detained on politically motivated charges, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today. Tajik authorities should stop harassing and targeting independent lawyers.

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Credibility of ICTY must be restored

International Justice:

Credibility of ICTY must be restored

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned about the situation at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (‘ICTY’), created by acquittals in 2012-2013 and a deep split among its judges. The concerns have been conveyed in a letter to President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (‘MICT’), former ICTY President, current ICTY judge and a key player of the institution. According to the letter, the acquittals represent changes in the direction at a very late stage of the ICTY’s life. They “disorient victims, their families, and the wider struggle against impunity ... there remains a strong, unanswered case for [Theodor Meron] to take responsibility for the unfortunate situation at ICTY”.

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Statement: Another human rights lawyer at risk of disbarment in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan:

Statement: Another human rights lawyer at risk of disbarment in Azerbaijan

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the other undersigned members of the Sport for Rights coalition express serious concern regarding the on-going disciplinary case against Yalchin Imanov, a prominent human rights lawyer in Azerbaijan. Any disciplinary sanctions against the lawyer could severely undermine his independence as member of the legal profession and hinder his important and legitimate professional activity.

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Severe Crackdown on Political Opposition

Tajikistan:

Severe Crackdown on Political Opposition

The Tajik government is arresting, imprisoning, and torturing members of the country’s peaceful political opposition, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today. The government is also targeting perceived critics abroad, seeking their detention and extradition back to Tajikistan, and has forcibly disappeared critics abroad only to have them reappear in Tajik custody.

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Norway must address NGO liquidation in Russia

Russia:

Norway must address NGO liquidation in Russia

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Rafto Foundation have sent a letter to Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende in connection with the court liquidation of the human rights organization Agora last week.

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Appeal to state delegations to support resolution on human rights defenders

The UN:

Appeal to state delegations to support resolution on human rights defenders

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee appealed to Missions to the UN to support resolution on human rights defenders, which comes up for vote in the UN General Assembly on the 17 December. The resolution contains a strong message to the world’s governments that they should support and protect human rights defenders; not attack them. The appeal was backed with signatures of people from across the world.

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Suspension of sentences of Leyla and Arif Yunus is a welcome step, but justice is still elusive

Azerbaijan:

Suspension of sentences of Leyla and Arif Yunus is a welcome step, but justice is still elusive

10 December: We — members of the Civic Solidarity Platform and the Sports For Rights Campaign — were relieved to learn that one of Azerbaijan’s most well-known political prisoners, Leyla Yunus, was released from detention yesterday and that that the Baku City Court of Appeal changed her sentence and that of her husband Arif into suspended sentences of 5 years, on probation.

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Constitutional referendum illegitimate

Armenia:

Constitutional referendum illegitimate

– The poor quality of the 6 December 2015 constitutional referendum was unprecedented in the country. There were blatant violations of the electoral code and verbal and physical attacks on observers and journalists, said Lene Wetteland, senior advisor of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC). "We are critical both of the campaign, the contents of the amendments as well as of the conduct of the vote itself."

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Reverse travel ban on HRW researcher

Kyrgyzstan:

Reverse travel ban on HRW researcher

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply disappointed to learn of the decision by Kyrgyzstan to declare Mihra Rittmann, researcher for Human Rights Watch in Central Asia, persona non grata in the country. Rittmann was deported from Kyrgyzstan upon her arrival to Manas International Airport in Bishkek on 2 December, after living and working for several years in the country.

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Turkmenistan must respond to the United Nations

Turkmenistan:

Turkmenistan must respond to the United Nations

As a member of the Prove They Are Alive! campaign, the NHC has joined a statement where we express our disappointment and regret at the failure of the government of Turkmenistan to provide a substantive reply to the United Nations Human Rights Committee on its decision on the case of Boris Shikhmuradov within the period established by the Committee.

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Whitewashing of flawed elections through international election observation missions

Azerbaijan:

Whitewashing of flawed elections through international election observation missions

As a founding partner of the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), the Norwegian Helsinki Committee expresses its concern over international election observation missions delegitimizing the institution of election observation as well as damaging the reputation of those parliaments and international institutions that they represent.

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Investigation of murdered journalist in North Caucasus must be urgently expedited

Russia:

Investigation of murdered journalist in North Caucasus must be urgently expedited

On the 2nd anniversary of the murder of independent Russian journalist, Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee signed a joint letter with 27 other NGOs calling for the investigation into his case to be urgently raised to the federal level.

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Verdict against Leyla and Arif Yunus must be reversed immediately

Azerbaijan:

Verdict against Leyla and Arif Yunus must be reversed immediately

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the harsh sentences against the Azerbaijani human rights defenders Leila and Arif Yunus. If the verdicts are not nullified immediately, then it is time to impose targeted sanctions against Azerbaijan´s main human rights perpetrators.

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Improved monitoring report adopted by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly

Azerbaijan:

Improved monitoring report adopted by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly

Last night, on 23 June, the Summer 2015 session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) adopted the new monitoring report on Azerbaijan, The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan, Resolution 2062 (2015). From a relatively weak draft presented by the co-rapporteurs from Spain and Poland, the report was significantly improved by the adoption of several important amendments during the session. Most significantly, the report now includes a demand for the release of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, mentioning several of them by name.

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Brutal attack against human rights defenders in Grozny

North Caucasus:

Brutal attack against human rights defenders in Grozny

The office of the Joint Mobile Group in Grozny, Chechnya, was earlier today on 3 June attacked by a group of masked men.

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EPDE: Psychiatry instrumentalised to silence election observers

Russian Federation:

EPDE: Psychiatry instrumentalised to silence election observers

The European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), of which NHC is a foundig member, has issued a statement today strongly protesting severe harrassment and intimidation of election observers from the Russian election observer organisation GOLOS.

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Azerbaijan must release human rights defenders, journalists and activists

Azerbaijan:

Azerbaijan must release human rights defenders, journalists and activists

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is among numerous NGOs who demand the release of imprisoned human rights defenders, journalists and activists all considered political prisoners in Azerbaijan. The call comes after the human rights defender Rasul Jafarov and human rights lawyer Intigam Aliyev were sentenced to 6,5 and 7,5 years respectively in Baku. The charges against them were trumped up and politically motivated, their trials deeply flawed.

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Rasul Jafarov sentenced to 6,5 years in prison

Azerbaijan:

Rasul Jafarov sentenced to 6,5 years in prison

Young, prominent and dedicated human rights defender Rasul Jafarov, was convicted to six and a half years in prison in a Baku, Azerbaijan court today. -It is hardly news anymore that human rights defenders are handed long prison sentences in Azerbaijan, where punishing the dissent on bogus charges has become commonplace for the government in past years, Secretary General Bjørn Engesland says.

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Avoid new limits on UPR recommendations

Statement at the UN Human Rights Council:

Avoid new limits on UPR recommendations

Limiting the number of recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review can be detrimental to the whole process. Instead states should focus on making concrete, specific and measurable recommendations.

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On the murder of Boris Nemtsov

Russian Federation:

On the murder of Boris Nemtsov

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is saddened and shocked by the news of the murder of Russia’s prominent opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, shot dead the in the heart of Moscow in the late evening of 27 February.
– The murder of Boris Nemtsov must be independently and transparently investigated and the people responsible be brought to justice, whether they pulled the trigger or ordered the killing, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. – We express our condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Boris Nemtsov.

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The ceasefire a step in the right direction, the road to peace remains long

Ukraine:

The ceasefire a step in the right direction, the road to peace remains long

The ceasefire agreement, which entered into force as of Sunday 15 February, is good news for the civilian population in the Donbass region”, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General. – However, it is already marred by violations and important questions remain unresolved. There are also serious flaws with the agreement. – The loser after nearly a year of hostilities is the civilian population in Eastern Ukraine who have seen their houses, economy, infrastructure and key public institutions shot to pieces. The human rights situation was far from perfect before the armed conflict, but there is no doubt that it has become much worse in the rebel-controlled areas.

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Russian Federation must address impunity in North Caucasus – another lawyer severely attacked

Russian Federation:

Russian Federation must address impunity in North Caucasus – another lawyer severely attacked

The Memorial lawyer Murad Magomedov was attacked yesterday, February 4, and beaten by five men outside the Dagestan Supreme Court building in Makhachkala, Dagestan. He sustained severe head injuries and is in critical condition in hospital, unable to explain the details of what happened to him. Murad Magomadov had been defending villagers of the Vremennyi village in Dagestan who were lost everything during a so-called counter terrorism operation autumn 2014.

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A call to the Council of Europe to suspend Azerbaijan’s membership

Repression in Azerbaijan must stop:

A call to the Council of Europe to suspend Azerbaijan’s membership

On Friday 5 December, another prominent civil society figure was arrested in Azerbaijan as a Baku court authorized investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova's pre-trial detention for two months on bogus charges of "inciting suicide". This shows that there is no end to the assault on independent voices by the government of this oil rich country and provides further proof of its disregard for founding values of the Council of Europe and its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Civil Solidarity Platform calls for the supsension of Azerbaijan for the Council of Europe in a statement Saturday 6 December.

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Investigate the murder of journalist and end impunity

Russia:

Investigate the murder of journalist and end impunity

Together with 30 other international human rights organisation, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has sent a letter to Aleksandr Bastrykin,
Head of the Investigative Committee of Russian Federation, calling for progress in the investigation into the murder of the journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev.

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Les Etats démocratiques ont besoin d’un nouveau Wallenberg

Les Etats démocratiques ont besoin d’un nouveau Wallenberg

Sous couvert de la guerre en Ukraine, la Russie et ses Etats voisins attaquent les défenseurs des droits de l’Homme et les médias. Les Etats démocratiques doivent oeuvrer pour protéger les défenseurs en danger.

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Letter to the Prime Minister of Turkey

Turkey:

Letter to the Prime Minister of Turkey

In a letter to the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee argues that a recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights points to the importance of bringing the program, lesson books and activities associated with the mandatory Religious Culture and Knowledge of Ethics (Din Kültürü Ahlak Bilgisi- DKAB) courses in line with international human rights requirements, and that these are key issues for Turkey’s democratization and social harmony. Read the letter in full below.

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Local observers give stamp of approval

Ukraine elections:

Local observers give stamp of approval

Civil society organisation OPORA and Committee of Voters of Ukraine have concluded that the early parliamentary elections in Ukraine did not violate international standards and Ukrainian law in any serious way. Although a large number of violations were registered both during the election campaign and on election day, they did not influence the result of the elections.

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Parliamentary elections in Ukraine consolidate democracy

Ukraine:

Parliamentary elections in Ukraine consolidate democracy

In Ukraine, the early elections to Verkhavna Rada (Parliament) is underway, and by 15.00 o'clock no serious incidents have been reported. In occupied Crimea and in large parts of Eastern Luhansk and Donetsk, it is not possible to organise elections, and some 4.5 million out of a total of 35 million voters are unable to cast their ballot today. Norwegian Helsinki Committee is in Kyiv to observe the elections.

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NHC attends the annual HDIM-meeting

OSCE meeting in Warzaw:

NHC attends the annual HDIM-meeting

NHC is active at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2014 which is currently taking place in Warsaw.

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Golos is not a "foreign agent"

Moscow City Court:

Golos is not a "foreign agent"

A decision by the Moscow City Court published on 8 September 2014 concludes that the Association Golos, an election watchdog, and its former executive director Lilia Shibanova, have not violated the law on “foreign agents”. Golos had refused to register as a “foreign agent”, which is required by the law for organizations that receive foreign funding and engage in loosely defined political activities. – This is an important decision and indeed good news for Golos, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Lower courts found Golos in breach of the law because of receiving our Sakharov Freedom Award in 2012. The Moscow City Court, however, said that since Golos did not receive the 10 000 US Dollar prize money, it was not obliged to register. The ruling is a serious defeat for the Ministry of Justice.

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Azerbaijan must investigate brutal attack on journalist

Azerbaijan:

Azerbaijan must investigate brutal attack on journalist

The brutal attack on the journalist Ilgar Nasibov, in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan, is an outrage, and Azerbaijan’s authorities should ensure a prompt, effective and impartial investigation, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights House Foundation, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, People in Need, Human Rights Watch, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, International Media Support, ARTICLE 19 and Reporters without borders said today.

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No peace plan without accountability for human rights

Ukraine:

No peace plan without accountability for human rights

Together with the other members and partners of the Human Rights House Network, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has sent a letter to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, where we urge the Ukrainian authorities to refer situation on the internationally recognised territory of Ukraine to the International Criminal Court (ICC) until the state becomes a member of the ICC by acceding to the Rome Statute.

In the letter we also call upon the Ukrainian government to support the work of human rights NGOs, journalists, bloggers and other media, and aknowledge the important and legitimate role of human rights defenders in the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law as an essential component of ensuring their protection. In this important periode for the country, we also urge the Ukrainan government to ensure that the reform process in the country, as well as all dialogue about the future of the country, is inclusive and transparent, giving space to civil society.
Read the letter below.

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Ukraine elections observed with NGO observers from Russia

Mission statement:

Ukraine elections observed with NGO observers from Russia

European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), a network of NGOs observing elections in Europe, has been united to observe the crucial Presidential elections in Ukraine that took place 25 may. 200 trained civil society observers monitored the elections in 10 regions of Ukraine in cooperation with local observers from Opora and Committee of Voters Ukraine. Norwegian Helsinki Committee, a co-founder of EPDE, joined the mission and assisted in the coordination of the effort. Today, the mission statement was published at a press conference in Kiev.

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NHC condemns verdict against Anar Mammadli

Azerbaijan:

NHC condemns verdict against Anar Mammadli

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the verdict against the renowned independent election observer Anar Mammadli, who in a Baku court yesterday was sentenced to five and-a-half years in prison for tax evasion, illegal business activities, and using their office to falsify election results.

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Voters turn out in high numbers, but security concerns in Donbass

Ukraine:

Voters turn out in high numbers, but security concerns in Donbass

NHC is currently in Ukraine observing the election together with our network European Platform for Democratic Elections. In most of the country it is reported that voters turn out in unpresedented high numbers and that lines are forming in many polling stations. In a large majority of the country, the polling takes place in a calm atmosphere and elections seem to go well by 14:00. In two regions, Donetsk and Lugansk, the polling has been cancelled for security reasons or the fact that some areas are under de facto control of armed pro-Russian rebels

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Updates on the situation in Ukraine

Ukraine:

Updates on the situation in Ukraine

The crisis in Ukraine develops by the day, and the need for sound and objective information is huge. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee recommends the regular updates provided by the Civic Solidarity Platform, a network of human rights organizations who cooperate to gather information with a special attention to the human rights situation. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is a founding member of the Platform and among the NGOs to assist in the efforts in Ukraine. The information provided in the updates is always based on findings by human rights experts on the ground, and our local members of the Platform are key providers of information.

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Fair elections with potential for improvement

Election observation 2013:

Fair elections with potential for improvement

34 election observers from eleven countries in the former Soviet Union have observed this years' Norwegian parliamentary elections. The observers have received a warm welcome throughout the country, and they have observed an election with a high degree of trust in the electoral process. However, the observers see potential for improvement in Norway.

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Surprise EP and PACE statement on the presidential election in Azerbaijan

EPDE:

Surprise EP and PACE statement on the presidential election in Azerbaijan

In a surprising statement after last week's elections in Azerbaijan, delegations from the European Parliament and the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly concluded that they had observed "free, fair and transparent electoral process". They did this despite the widespread and reliable reports of fraud, pressure against voters and other manipulations. - We find it quite astonishing that European parliamentary delegation members, who should defend the voters' right to democratic elections, instead choose to look away from the facts of the presidential elections in Azerbaijan, secretary general Bjørn Engesland says. Together with the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) we have made a statement criticizing the delegations.

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Press Freedom award laureates warn of deteriorating conditions for journalists

Russia:

Press Freedom award laureates warn of deteriorating conditions for journalists

The Siberian newspaper Yakutsk Vecherny, and Yelena Kostyuchenko, journalist of Novaya Gazeta, were among the laureates of this year’s Press Freedom Award, issued by Fritt Ord and Zeit Stiftung. – The prize jury has come to an important and appropriate decision, drawing attention to the deteriorating conditions for freedom of speech and the difficult situation for journalists in today’s Russia, said Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.

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Kyrgyz activist Tolekan Ismailova deported from Uzbekistan

Travel ban:

Kyrgyz activist Tolekan Ismailova deported from Uzbekistan

Following her detention upon arrival to Tashkent International Airport from Bishkek at 7:20 PM on Monday 24 June, prominent Kyrgyzstani human rights activist Tolekan Ismailova was deported to Almaty, Kazakhstan in the afternoon of 25 June.

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Repressive LGBTI law violates human rights

Russia:

Repressive LGBTI law violates human rights

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the legislation waved through this week by the Russian State Duma; prohibiting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”. The restrictive legislation is part of a wider trend of worsening human rights situation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.

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UPR records must reflect recommendations

Human Rights Council:

UPR records must reflect recommendations

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has joined a call to the President of the UN Human Rights Council to ensure that records of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) reflect all recommendations presented to the state under review. Recently, Russia managed to remove two recommendations from Georgia from the list of recommendations at the end of the report and to get them added as footnote. This is the last blow against the format of the Working Group reports which regularly, under the attack of countries under Review, get modified and weakened. The statement calls on the President to issue a statement which would clearly define how the Working Group report should be made and what it should contain.

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Monitoring and reporting

The Norwegian Helsinki Committee works to fight human rights violations through monitoring and reporting on the human rights situations in specific countries. The committee places particular emphasis on freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, the right to participation, minority rights, the right to freedom of thought and religion and the right to life and personal security. In recent years, the security and working conditions for human rights activists have also become an important issue in many countries.

The Committee prepares reports and presents these to the governments of the countries where we work, the Norwegian authorities, international organizations and other relevant actors. Our method is first hand contact with key stakeholders in the involved countries. We therefore travel regularly to all the countries we work with, and keep ourselves updated when major events are scheduled to take place. Increasingly, advocacy has become an important part of our work. We work for the inclusion of and attention to human rights issues should be held high on the agenda of Norwegian Government and Parliament. We also have a large international network, so that we can unite and coordinate efforts in key areas with the most important international human rights organizations. We present our views in the UN, Council of Europe and OSCE: We have a partner in Brussels, International Partnership for Human Rights, to coordinate our efforts in EU structures.

Election observation has a long tradition in the committee. The right to participate is a basic human right, while democracy is a prerequisite for limiting power that may else be abused. Elections are also critical steps in the democratic development of states that are in a transition situation after a conflict or the fall of an authoritarian regime. Therefore, it is of great importance that international and national standards for free and fair elections are followed to ensure that those elected have democratic legitimacy. We have observed numerous elections over the past twenty years.  We have also organised international election observation in Norway in 2005 and 2009.

Hate culture prevails one year after violent attacks

Armenia:

Hate culture prevails one year after violent attacks

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.

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Presidential elections underway without competition

Armenia:

Presidential elections underway without competition

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.

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NHC co-founds European Platform for Democratic Elections

New network established:

NHC co-founds European Platform for Democratic Elections

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.

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Uneven playing field and violations despite promises

Kazakhstan elections:

Uneven playing field and violations despite promises

On Sunday 15 January, Kazakhstan held early Parliamentary elections after President Nazarbayev expressed that more than one party now should be represented in Parliament and law amendments were made to provide for this. However, despite promises of democratization and the recent period as chair of the OSCE, several violations took place and did not allow for a fair and democratic competition for the seats in Parliament.

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Amid credible reports of election fraud, Russian election results do not fully reflect the will of the people.

State Duma elections:

Amid credible reports of election fraud, Russian election results do not fully reflect the will of the people.

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.

Read more about Amid credible reports of election fraud, Russian election results do not fully reflect the will of the people.
Respected election monitoring Association Golos brought to court

Russia:

Respected election monitoring Association Golos brought to court

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.”

Read more about Respected election monitoring Association Golos brought to court
Unfair pre-election process in Russia

Statement:

Unfair pre-election process in Russia

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.”

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Authorities in Kosovo must ensure access to justice and show practical support to minorities

Kosovo:

Authorities in Kosovo must ensure access to justice and show practical support to minorities

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.

Read more about Authorities in Kosovo must ensure access to justice and show practical support to minorities
Presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan passed without serious violations, but Southern candidates express discontent

Kyrgyzstan:

Presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan passed without serious violations, but Southern candidates express discontent

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.

Read more about Presidential elections in Kyrgyzstan passed without serious violations, but Southern candidates express discontent

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