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Demonstrations and arrests:
This last weekend, 25. – 26. March, peaceful protest actions took place across Russia, Belarus and in Kyrgyzstan, which were met with heavy police forces, mass arrests and violence from the authorities. Although they did not seem to have been coordinated in any way, the protests have in common that they were supported by citizens fed up with corruption and oppression. Governments of the three countries seem to know only one way of reacting: Interdiction, violence and detentions. Still, citizens for the first time in a very long time, defied fears and participated. The participation across Russia, not limited to big cities, had not been seen for years.
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.
Den norske Helsingforskomiteen har arbeidet med Russland helt siden stiftelsen i 1977. Komiteen samarbeider med de viktigste russiske menneskerettighetsorganisasjonene og har et omfattende nettverk i Russland. Helsingforskomiteen har engasjert seg særlig i forbindelse med konflikten i Tsjetsjenia. Vi gjennomfører rapporteringsreiser, fremmer rettsoppgjør både nasjonalt og internasjonalt, støtter menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner og fremmer politiske prosesser som kan bidra til å løse konflikten. Komiteen har også arrangert menneskerettighetsundervisning i Barentsregionen og i Nord-Kaukasus.
Medlemmer av Utenrikskomiteen nektes visum til Russland:
Utenrikskomiteens reise til Russland er i dag utsatt på ubestemt tid etter at Russiske myndigheter har nektet å utstede visum til Venstres leder Trine Skei Grande og stortingsrepresentant for SV Bård Vegar Solhjell. – Utenrikskomiteen har tatt en riktig beslutning ved å avlyse reisen også for de av komitémedlemmene som fikk visum til reisen i morgen, sier Helsingforskomiteens generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland, som selv er erklært persona non grata i Russland. Norske politikere bør ikke la seg presse av Putins regime.
Human Rights Education:
Journalists in North West Russia and Norwegian journalists across the border experience some of the same challenges in their daily work. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the journalist association Barents Press are pleased that we are able to continue our cooperation and organise sessions where Norwegian and Russian journalists meet to exchange experiences and discuss human rights in journalism.
Awards to journalism:
NHC congratulates the laureates of the Fritt Ord/ZEIT-Stiftungs «Free Media Awards» which were awarded in a ceremony in Tbilisi
last week. Imprisoned journalist Seymur Hazi from Azerbaijan and the Ukrainian TV program Nashi Groshi were both nominated
by NHC. The third laureate is the prominent Russian journalist Elena Milashina.
Jury member Martin Paulsen highlighted three virtues in his speech at the ceremony: "When it comes to your work, and the reasons why we chose you for this honour, I would like to emphasise the importance of three concepts: COURAGE, SOLIDARITY and COMPETENCE."
Human rights education:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee organised 13-17 November 2016 a Human Rights School for 27 high school students from Murmansk and Kirkenes.
Norske kulturredaksjoner er enten uten vilje eller evne til å skjelne løgn fra journalistikk. Resirkulert propaganda får terningkast
fem og Fritt Ord er mikrofonstativ. Av Gunnar Ekeløve-Slydal og Aage Borchgrevink.
Publisert på VG+ 19.11.2016
Den norske Helsingforskomité reagerer sterkt på at Fritt Ord og Kunst i offentlige rom (KORO) på konferansen Public Calling på Nationaltheatret 1. og 2. november lar Torstein Grude fra Piraya Film, produsenten for Andrei Nekrasovs Film The Magnitsky Act: Behind the Scenes, uimotsagt få komme med uriktige påstander om Helsingforskomitéen. Han fremsetter svært kontroversielle, og etter Helsingforskomitéens mening, feilaktige påstander om den kjente russiske varsleren Sergei Magnitskij, som døde i et russisk fengsel som følge av manglende legehjelp og tortur i november 2009.
NHCs Enver Djuliman is currently in Odessa, Ukraine, where Russian and Ukrainian youth are together for dialogues for reconciliation between Russian and Ukrainian youth. Symbolically, the participants planted trees of peace.
Yesterday the Norwegian Helsinki Committee arranged our annual Anna Politkovskaya-seminar, to honour our dear friend and colleague who was brutally murdered just outside her apartment in Moscow ten years ago today.
“The low turnout at 47.8% in the Duma elections on 18 September may be seen as an expression by Russians of discontent with the Government and the ruling United Russia party. There may also be widespread lack of trust in the electoral process among many Russians”, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC). – “Even if these elections represented progress in transparency and the Central Election Commission (CEC) played a professional role in reacting to some of the reported irregularities, a range of serious problems remain.”
Søndag 18. september er det Dumavalg i Russland. Den norske Helsingforskomité vil følge valget tett.
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.
Magnitskij-saken har fått fornyet oppmerksomhet som en følge av konflikten om filmen The Magnitsy Act: Behind the scenes av den russiske regissøren Andrei Nekrasov. Filmen ble vist for første gang i Norge 25. juni 2016 på en åpen visning arrangert av Piraya Film. Filmens hovedbudskap ble imidlertid kjent allerede 27. april, da den var planlagt vist i Europaparlamentet. Denne visningen og flere TV-visninger er blitt avlyst, men Nekrasov har presentert filmens budskap i medieintervjuer og på sosiale medier.
Tilsvar til Dagsavisens artikkel:
Kulturredaktør Mode Steinkjer omtaler våre synspunkter i Magnitskij-saken på usaklig vis i en artikkel 9. juni om at Kortfilmfestivalen har valgt ikke å vise filmen «The Magnitsky Act» («Et nederlag for ytringsfriheten»). Han er ikke den første som tillegger oss synspunkter vi ikke har.
Dokumentarfilmen "The Magnitski Act":
I en artikkel 25. mai skriver Dagbladet at «den amerikanske milliardæren» William Browder vil stanse en film av den anerkjente filmregissøren Andrei Nekrasov om Magnitskij-saken. Dagbladets artikkel etterlater et inntrykk av at vi kanskje alle har tatt feil av saken. Men det er ikke tilfelle. Sergej Magnitskij var en russisk varsler som ble torturert og drept i regi av russiske tjenestemenn. Han hadde varslet om at de samme tjenestemennene hadde orkestrert en omfattende skattesvindel av den russiske staten ved å stjele og bruke Browders investeringsselskaper.
Report from the seminar:
On 17 September 2016 Russia organizes elections to the 450 seats of the Federal Duma. Unfortunately, restrictions on election observation and candidate registration are already being put in place. Despite the bleak picture normally presented regarding elections in Russia, there exist however many independent voices in politics, academia and civil society that speak out for democratic values and procedures. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee invited some of them to Oslo to debate new perspectives on Russia’s elections.
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.
Global Magnitsky Sanctions – Effective tool to address gross violations of human rights against human rights defenders and
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC), a long term partner of the Oslo Freedom Forum (OFF), has the pleasure of inviting you to a side event on Global Magnitsky Sanctions at the OFF 2016. The event is arranged in co-operation with the Justice for Sergei Magnitsky Campaign, with the participation of its leader, Bill Browder.
Er Russland virkelig så toppstyrt av President Putin og hans krins at både opposisjon og sivilsamfunn ligg med broten rygg fram mot valet til hausten? I denne paneldebatten får me nye perspektiv frå opposisjon, akademia og organisasjonslivet i Russland – på ei problemstilling som slett ikkje er så svart/kvit som du kanskje trudde.
On 16 March, another attack on the human rights organisation Committee for Prevention of Torture (CPT) took place in Chechnya. The head of the organization, Igor Kalyapin, was attacked outside the Grozny City hotel and forced to leave the republic.
On 9 March, unknown assailants attacked a minibus with lawyers and human rights activists from the Joint Mobile Group and international journalists on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia. Among those attacked were a Norwegian and a Swedish journalist.
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.
Agora, a 2014 Rafto Prize laureate and a member of the Russian President’s Human Rights Council became the first nongovernmental organization to be liquidated by a regional Supreme Court on 10 February. – The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns this decision, which violates the human rights of an important organization, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General. Agora's chair Pavel Chikov met Prime Minister Erna Solberg when he visited Oslo in October 2015. Photo: Prime minister's Office
A new list of political prisoners in Russia has just been published by Memorial Human Rights Centre. The list now comprises 50 names, as compared to the 46 which were included in the list published in October last year. 10 people have been released, but 14 have been arrested. None of the political prisoners were acquitted, amnestied or pardoned during this time.
I dagens Aftenposten svarer Helsingforskomiteen på UNEs artikkel i Aftenposten 23. desember, der UNE skriver at vi gjør påstander til fakta. Den norske Helsingforskomité mener det er nedslående at UNE ikke vil undersøke saker der Norge kan ha brutt sentrale menneskerettslige forpliktelser.
I denne ukens Ny Tid avsløres det at to tsjetsjenske asylsøkere, Apti Nazujev og Umar Bilemkhanov, ble torturert og drept i Tsjetsjenia etter å ha fått avslag på sine søknader om politisk asyl i Norge. Den norske Helsingforskomité og russiske Memorial advarte norske myndigheter sterkt mot å sende de to tilbake til Tsjetsjenia eller Russland.
Den 15.desember underskreiv President Vladimir Putin ei lov som gjev rettsleg heimel for den russiske grunnlovsdomstolen til å avgjera om dei skal gjennomføre eller ikkje gjennomføre vedtak mot Russland, mellom anna frå Den europeiske menneskerettsdomstolen (EMD).
The presentation of the Sergei Magnitsky Human Rights Awards 2015, honouring nine prominent politicians, lawyers, and journalists for their support of the Magnitsky campaign, took place in London on 16 November, six years after the death of the Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky.
In Ingushetia on 6 November, armed security servicemen carried out a raid in the offices of the human rights organization MASHR and in the private home of the organization’s head Magomed Mutsolgov. The masked men removed large amounts of documents, office computers and even the children’s iPad.
No political prisoners:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has launched a webpage with information and updates about the situation for the political prisoners in Europe.
”The Norwegian Helsinki Committee welcomes the decision by Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, on October 8 to submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber of the ICC to open an investigation of core international crimes during the war in Georgia in 2008,” says Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.
Anna Politkovskaja seminar:
-President Putins behandling av sivilsamfunnet i Russland gjør at staten mister sin legitimitet. Dette kan føre til omveltninger i Russland, omveltninger som bare president Putin selv vil være ansvarlig for, sa Svetlana Gannusjkina på forrige ukes godt besøkte Anna Politkovskaja seminar på Litteraturhuset i Oslo.
Václav Havel Human Rights Prize 2015:
During the opening of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly autumn session today, prominent Russian human rights defender Ludmilla Alexeeva was awarded the Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. The award honours outstanding civil society action in defence of human rights, and it includes a €60 000 prize. - NHC warmly congratulates Ludmilla, she is one of the founders of the Russian human rights movement. To award the prize to her this year in particular, while we are celebrating the 40 year anniversary of the Helsinki Declaration, carries a lot of symbolic weight, Secretary general Bjørn Engesland says at the news of the prize.
Klar dom frå russiske valobservatørar i GOLOS: Resultata frå det russiske regionsvalet søndag 13. september er avgjort i forkant, og valdagen tener kun som legitimering.
Policy Paper 2/2015:
A new policy paper from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee presented today argues that Norway and other democratic countries should establish mechanisms to freeze the assets of persons who commit gross violations of human rights with impunity and prohibit their entry into the country – the victims of these violations being human rights defenders or whistle-blowers.
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.
The office of the Joint Mobile Group in Grozny, Chechnya, was earlier today on 3 June attacked by a group of masked men.
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.
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.
Together with 46 other international organisations, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has signed a letter sent yesterday to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation Yury Ya. Chaika, where we appeal to take all necessary measures to free environmental defender Evgeny G. Vitishko (born July 3, 1973) immediately and unconditionally; to initiate legal proceedings regarding the wrongful conviction of Evgeny Vitishko; hold those responsible for his conviction legally accountable; and clarify the withdrawal by the Office of Prosecutor General of the request to vacate the decision of the Tuapse city court of Krasnodar Krai from December 12, 2013 to revoke the suspended sentence and transfer Evgeny Vitishko to a penal settlement colony. We also ask you to investigate the facts of the violation of water and forest laws in Bzhid township (Tuapse District, Krasnodar Krai).
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.
Together with 30 other international human rights organisation, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has sent a letter to Aleksandr
Head of the Investigative Committee of Russian Federation, calling for progress in the investigation into the murder of the journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev.
To år etter at den såkalte «loven om utenlandske agenter» trådte i kraft, er Den norske Helsingforskomité en av organisasjonene som har levert et åpent brev til Russlands president Vladimir Putin. I brevet, som ble overlevert av Amnesty International Moskva, krever vi at loven blir opphevet. Det er hele 148 organisasjoner fra 32 land som har skrevet under på dette kravet.
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.
Golos victim of repressive NGO-legislation in Russia:
On April 25, Golos was convicted for failing to comply with NGO-legislation and failing to register as foreign agents. NHC was a witness during the trial where we refuted claims that Golos has accepted prize money from us. The legislation is itself in violation of international law, and we condemn the court decision as unlawful. Golos must pay a fine of 300 000 roubles, approx. 9 500 USD. On 9 April Golos, a renowned human rights NGO conducting election monitoring in Russia, and Golos director Lilia Shibanova, was informed by the Ministry of Justice that a case is initiated against them for being in breach of the 2012 "foreign agents law”. – To initiate legal actions against a human rights organizations for not having registered as a “foreign agent”, is a violation by Russian authorities of international standards, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. The 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders clearly states the rights of human rights defenders to receive funding from abroad.
Side event OFF:
Together with the London based organisation Fair Trials International, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee organized a breakfast seminar tuesday at the Hotel Bristol as a side event to the Oslo Freedom Forum, discussing how INTERPOL is being abused by dictatorships.
On 8 October 2013, Mikhail Kosenko, one of the defendants in the so-called Bolotnaya square case was found guilty of taking part in mass disorder (article 212 of the Russian Criminal Code) during the “March of the Millions” on 6 May 2012. The Zamoskvoretsky Regional court also found him guilty of physically assaulting police officers (article 318 of the Criminal Code) . - The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is critical of the trial, which did not comply with fair trial standards, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. - The conclusions of the court were not backed by solid evidence. Two police witnesses were unable to identify Kosenko as a person who had been involved in any violence. In the photo, Aleksandra Dukhanina, another of the victims from Bolotnaya awaiting trial is arrested. Photo: Rustam Adagamov
OL i Sotsji:
På gårsdagens informasjonsmøte for norske journalister som skal reise til OL i Sotsji var oppfordringen klar: Dra ut av OL-byen, lag saker om det virkelige Russland, og møt menneskene som vet hva som virkelig foregår i regionen.
Krisen i Ukraina:
Den norske Helsingforskomité følger med forferdelse den dramatiske utviklingen i Ukraina. Det er grunn til å frykte en fullskala militær konflikt på Krimhalvøya, med de konsekvensene det vil ha for liv, sikkerhet og grunnleggende menneskerettigheter der, i Ukraina og i hele regionen.
Pussy Riot visits NHC event:
Don’t forget about the political prisoners in Russia, it can prevent them from being killed! This was the message from Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, the two Pussy Riot/Zona Prava members that participated at the packed Norwegian Helsinki Committee seminar Safeguarding international institutions against authoritarian abuse on 13 May.
Markering 7. oktober:
Tirsdag 7. oktober er en symboltung dag i Russland. Det er åtte år siden den kritiske gravejournalisten Anna Politkovskaya ble drept og det er også bursdagen til president Vladimir Putin. I den forbindelse kommer Amnesty, LLH og Helsingforskomiteen til å holde en solidaritetsmarkering foran Stortinget kl 12-13, og foran den russiske ambassaden 13.30-14. Du er velkommen!
OSCE meeting in Warzaw:
NHC is active at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2014 which is currently taking place in Warsaw.
Moscow City Court:
A decision by the Moscow City Court published on 8 September 2014 concludes that the Association Golos, an election watchdog, and its former executive director Lilia Shibanova, have not violated the law on “foreign agents”. Golos had refused to register as a “foreign agent”, which is required by the law for organizations that receive foreign funding and engage in loosely defined political activities. – This is an important decision and indeed good news for Golos, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Lower courts found Golos in breach of the law because of receiving our Sakharov Freedom Award in 2012. The Moscow City Court, however, said that since Golos did not receive the 10 000 US Dollar prize money, it was not obliged to register. The ruling is a serious defeat for the Ministry of Justice.
During a conference on Strengthening Human Rights in Russia organized by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee in cooperation with Amnesty International Norway in Oslo on September 19-22 this year, a resolution on establishing the Natalia Estemirova Documentation Center was adopted by a group of nine leading Russian and international human rights organizations.
Gisseldramaet i Beslan, Nord-Ossetia 1.-3. september 2004 i barneskole nummer 1 kostet minst 385 menneskeliv, ifølge russiske myndigheter. Blant de drepte var 334 gisler, og 186 av dem var barn. – Dessverre er Beslan symptomatisk for russiske myndigheters holdning til menneskeliv, sier Bjørn Engesland, generalsekretær.
Policy Paper 6/2014:
The NHC presents our sixth policy paper of 2014. The so-called Foreign Agents Law has already hit hundreds of non-governmental organizations unwilling to register, and its chilling effect is no longer a prediction but a reality. The paper argues that the Foreign Agents Law has dire consequences for Russian civil society, violates human rights and should be repealed.
Policy Paper 5/2014:
The NHC presents our fifth policy paper of 2014. The policy paper shows how a Russian sponsored initiative at the UN Human Rights Council has been targeting core tenets of international human rights. The proponents of the initiative have camouflaged it as laying out new ways of promoting human rights. Traditional values of humankind are a tool to strengthen and underpin human rights at the local level, they claim. In reality, the initiative threatens to destroy consensus among the states of the world on how they should honor their human rights obligations.
International Day against Homophobia:
17th of May is not only a celebration of the Norwegian national day; it is also the International Day against Homophobia (IDAHO). While blue-copies of the Russian legislation banning so-called propaganda of non-traditional relations is on the rise all over Eastern Europe, while LGBTI persons are beaten and killed, public events are banned, peaceful activists are arrested and homo- and transphobia flourish; IDAHO is a reminder that the international community bears responsibility for securing the human rights of sexual and gender minorities all over.
Ukraine, Russia crisis:
NHC is proud to present our new publication format, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee's policy paper. Our first policy paper is a Q&A on the Ukraine, Russia crisis, where we want to point to some of the main legal and human rights issues in the current situation. You can read and download the policy paper below.
Årsmøteuttalelse DnH årsmøte 2014:
Den norske Helsingforskomité gjennomførte i går årsmøte for våre styre- og rådsmedlemmer på Litteraturhuset i Oslo. I årets uttalelse ber årsmøtet den norske regjeringen om å støtte demokratisering og reformer i Ukraina samt bidra til økt press mot Russlands undergraving av landets myndigheter. Årsmøtet ble ledet av styreleder i Den norske Helsingforskomité Ragnhild Astrup Tschudi.
I en anmeldelse som Den norske Helsingforekomité leverer idag til Siri Frigaard, lederen av Det nasjonale statsadvokatembetet for bekjempelse av organisert og annen alvorlig kriminalitet, navngis russiske tjenestemenn mistenkt for tortur og drap av advokaten og varsleren Sergei Magnitsky: Oleg Silchenko, Dmitry Markov og Oleg Kuznetsov. Silchenko var ansvarlig tjenestemann ved det russiske innenriksdepartementet for arrestasjonen og varetektsfengslingen av Magnitsky. De to siste var overordnete tjenestemenn ved Matrosskaya Tishina varetektsfengsel der Magnitsky døde som følge av mishandling med gummikøller.
Amnesty Norge, LLH og Helsingforskomiteen markerte i går Putins fødselsdag med kake og spesielt inviterte gjester på Egertorget
- The judgments by a Moscow court of eight Bolotnaya protesters to prison terms from two and half to four years must be seen in the context of Kremlin efforts to stifle opposition, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. - The judgments send a chilling message to ordinary Russians that they should refrain from taking part in protests against President Vladimir Putin and his rule. If not they may face serious consequences. The judgments target Russian civic activism and basic freedoms.
The NHC is deeply concerned about today’s verdict concerning the environmental activist Evgeny Vitishko, who in a Krasnodar court has been sentenced to three years in penal colony. Photo: Oleg Kozirov
During the Winter session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) today, an overwhelming majority voted for the adoption of the report "Refusing impunity for the killers of Sergei Magnitsky"
Brev til Bård Glad Pedersen:
I anledning statssekretær Bård Glad Pedersens besøk i Russland 14. og 15. desember har Den norske Helsingforskomité spilt inn synspunkter på det vi mener er de mest sentrale menneskerettslige utfordringene i Russland. Les hele brevet til statssekretæren under.
A new book edited by Russian-French journalist Elena Servettaz, arguing for Europe to enact a Magnitsky law similar to the US Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act was launched in the UK on 5 November. -The book presents powerful arguments that Europe should deny visa and freeze assets of those who killed Sergei Magnitsky and other human rights violators, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General.
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.
Årsmøteuttalelse NHC årsmøte 2013:
Den norske Helsingforskomité har gjennomført årsmøte for våre styre- og rådsmedlemmer. I årets uttalelse ber årsmøtet den norske regjeringen om kraftfullt å ta til motmæle mot de pågående angrepene mot russisk sivilsamfunn, særlig med bakgrunn i dommen mot vår 2012 Sakharovs Frihetsprisvinner Golos. Årsmøtet ble leder av visepresident i vårt råd, Stortingsrepresentant Anne Marit Bjørnflaten.
7. oktober tennes OL-ilden i Moskva og Putin fyller 61 år. Men ikke alle er velkomne til å feire begivenhetene. Det vil Amnesty, LLH og Helsingforskomiteen gjøre noe med. Derfor inviterer vi til bursdagsfest på Egertorget mandag 7. oktober kl. 15-16. Det er Putins bursdag, men vi inviterer gjestene.
– The killing of journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev on Tuesday 9 July should be promptly investigated and those responsible should be prosecuted, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. – The attempted murder on Akhmednabiev in January 2013 was ignored by the Prosecutor’s office, in spite of a Dagestan Supreme Court decision that it should be investigated. This culture of impunity for those attacking and even murdering journalists and human rights defenders in North Caucasus must end. If not, authorities will remain complicit in these killings.
– The guilty verdicts of lawyer and world known whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky and the man he represented, William Browder, CEO of Hermitage Management Capital, by a Moscow court on 11 July 2013 represents a new low point in Russia’s efforts to distort facts and cover-up the real wrongdoing in the case, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. – The Magnitsky case implicates Russian authorities in a series of human rights violations, including illegal arrest, torture, and failure to provide medical treatment. Now they have added new violations to the list; exposing the legal nihilism and lack of rule of law in the country.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the legislation waved through this week by the Russian State Duma; prohibiting “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations”. The restrictive legislation is part of a wider trend of worsening human rights situation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe.
Barentssamarbeidet 20 år:
Mandag 3. juni kommer den russiske statsministeren Dmitry Medvedev til Kirkenes for å bli med på feiringen av 20-årsjubileeet for Barentsssamarbeidet, som omfatter Finland, Norge, Russland og Sverige. Statsminister Jens Stoltenberg skal etter planen ha et separat møte med sin russiske kollega Dmitry Medvedev den 4. juni. – Gitt den forverringen i Russland vi nå er vitne til når det gjelder myndighetenes behandling av menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner og andre deler av det sivile samfunnet, må Stoltenberg prioritere menneskerettighetsspørsmål i samtalene med Medvedev, sier generalsektretær Bjørn Engesland. Utviklingen i Russland er stikk i strid med Barentserklæringen.
Russian Civic Assistance Committee will soon present a book,- a collection of memories of eyewitnesses of and participants in the Chechen wars. The title of the book, published in Russian, is ‘Stories of one war’ / Каждый молчит о своем: истории одной войны,
One of Russia’s most respected human rights defenders, Svetlana Gannushkina, is prosecuted for “failure to comply with legal requirements by the Prosecutor” and is to stand trial on 4 June. Gannushkina, the head of the Civic Assistance Committee (CAC), suspended cooperation with the Moscow Prosecutors' office in April 2013 because unreasonable requirements were imposed on her organization. In 2007, Svetlana received the Sakharov Freedom Award from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. She has been nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize by Erna Solberg, the head of the Conservative Party in Norway.
-Norwegian authorities should contribute to Europe enacting Magnitsky type legislation, said Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General. – There is need for new ways of addressing the very serious human rights violations that take place in Russia from the part of European governments and institutions. Magnitsky legislation may prove to be an efficient supplement to regional and international human rights mechanisms. Norway should signal support of the EU enacting Magnitsky type legislation.
Today, Golos was convicted for failing to comply with NGO-legislation and failing to register as foreign agents.NHC was a witness during the trial where we refuted claims that Golos has accepted prize money from us. The legislation is itself in violation of international law, and we condemn the court decision as unlawful. Golos must pay a fine of 300 000 roubles, approx. 9 500 USD. Follow updates on our Facebook-page and on Twitter nhc_no.
I forbindelse med oppfølgingen av United Periodic Review (UPR) av Russland i FNs menneskerettighetsråd 29. april har Amnesty og Helsingforskomiteen skrevet et brev til Utenriksdepartementet der vi oppfordrer norske myndigheter til å fremme særlig to anbefalinger som gjelder menneskerettighetsforkjempere. Les hele brevet under.
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.
I et brev til utenriksminsiter Espen Barth Eide i dag ber vi ham offentlig å gi uttrykk for at russiske myndigheter må stoppe den pågående kampanjen mot det sivile samfunn. - Organisasjoner som fremmer menneskerettigheter har rett til å kunne operere fritt, selv om de får økonomisk støtte fra utlandet, sier Helsingforskomiteens generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland. - Vi har også bedt Eide ta initiativ til at europeiske toppledere kritiserer myndighetenes kampanje mot det sivile samfunnet i klare ordelag.
Russia, mass inspections of NGOs:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned about recent developments in Russia related to freedom of association and the rights of human rights defenders to conduct their work, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General. – Large numbers of non-government organizations were today subject to inspections from authorities, including Memorial and other well-known human rights organisations. The inspections are follow-up on recently adopted restrictive legislation that violates freedom of association and aims at obstructing human rights work in the country. European institutions and governments should react strongly.
Sakharov Freedom Award:
Russian Association 'Golos' was presented the Sakharov Freedom Award at a ceremony which also marked Norwegian Helsinki Committee 35 years' anniversary on 23 October. Lilya Shibanova accepted the award on behalf of the organisation she leads. - It is a great honor to receive the Sakharov Freedom award. The recognition comes at a very important and suitable time for us, were Russian democracy is dwindling and organisatons like ours are under fierce attack from the authorities. The anniversary was also celebrated by a well attended seminar opened by Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide.
On 6 February 2013, the regional court in Nizhny Novgorod ruled that the city administration had violated human rights when refusing to provide time and place for a March of millions demonstration. – The court’s recognition that the provisions of the European Convention on Human Rights should prevail is a promising development, says Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, NHC Deputy Secretary General. – It should set precedence for other courts handling similar cases of protesters being denied their rights under Russian and international law to freedoms of expression, assembly and association.
NGO Forum for Human Rights:
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.
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.
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.
A draft law criminalizing “promotion of homosexuality among minors” is to be considered by the Russian Parliament on 19 December. The draft violates the right to freedom of expression and association of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
In an article in Foreign Policy, Tanya Lokshina, senior researcher and deputy director at the Moscow office of Human Rights Watch and longtime NHC cooperator, looks at the current political crackdown sweeping Russia following Vladimir Putin’s May 7 presidential inauguration.
NHC report 3/2012:
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.
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.
NHC interventions at OSCE HDIM in Warsaw:
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 denial.
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 i dag.
- 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.
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.
Det kontroversielle lovforslaget vart godkjent med overveldande fleirtal av Russland sitt underhus i Dumaen den 13.juli. Før forslaget eventuelt trer i kraft må det også godkjennast av Føderasjonsrådet og Overhuset og bli underskreve av president Putin.
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.
-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.
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 Secretary General.
Presidentvalg i Russland:
- 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.
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.
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.
Invitation to the seminar::
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.
- 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.
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.”
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.
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 public.
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.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee Deputy Secretary General, Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal and Advisor, Inna Sangadzhiyeva visited Russia from September 5 to September 9, 2011.
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.
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.
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.
(14/12-2010) The Norwegian Helsinki Committee held its second training seminar for representatives from the Public Observation Commissions of Archangelsk, Murmansk and the Karelian Republic.
(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.
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.
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.
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.
Norske organisasjoner samles for en solidaritetsmarkering foran Stortinget torsdag 31. mars kl. 16. Kravet er forsamlingsfrihet
Photo: (c) Andrei Blinushov
(14/12-2010) International and Russian human rights organizations have sent a letter to the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe expressing concern with the lack of effective implementation of its resolution 1738 (2010) on Legal remedies for human rights defenders in North Caucasus.
(07/10-2010) Today, on 7 October, it is four years since the prominent and courageous Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya was shot and killed at the entrance of her apartment in Moscow. We remember Anna particularly for her commitment in Chechnya.
(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.
(26/08-2010) Lev Ponomarev, the Russian human rights activist and the leader of the movement “For Human Rights” was arrested yesterday and got three days administrative punishment under article 19.3 Administrative Offences Code of the Russian Federation (charged with “insubordination to legal order of a policeman”). On August 22, Lev Ponomarev, together with the representatives of the movement “Soilidarity” Boris Nemtsov and Mikhail Shnayder carried Russian flag at Novy Arbat on the Russian Flag Day. All three were arrested right after and charged with unauthorized demonstration and insubordination to policemen. The Moscow Presnenskij court refused to arrest Nemtsov and ordered the case to be further investigated, as the judge didn’t find the facts of “insubordination to policemen”. Mikhail Shnayder’s case was planned to be proceeded today, August 26.
(22/06-2010) The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has sent a letter to the Czech Commissioner on Human Rights, in support of initiatives to strengthen protection of Chechen asylum seekers.