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On 24 July central Special Forces entered the Gorno-Badakshan region (Pamir) with military personnel and equipment, including helicopters. Allegedly, the aim was to arrest the militants suspect of the murder of the local head of the KNB. However, as the day advanced, reports of civilian casualties emerged, as well as raids and shooting of schools and private homes. There was no organized evacuation of civilians before the actions started, and an information blockade followed.
(Genève og Oslo, 30.10.2012) Langvarig opphold i politiarrest, isolasjon i fengsler, behandling og diagnostisering av torturskader, utlendingsinternatet på Trandum, vold mot kvinner og tvang i psykiatrien er sentrale utfordringer for Norge for fullt ut å oppfylle forpliktelsene etter torturkonvensjonen, sa Helsingforskomiteens Ole B. Lilleås til FNs torturkomité i dag.
A conference on the role of universities in peacebuilding took place at the university of Novi Pazar, Serbia on December 14-15. The conference is part of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee's reconciliation program for the Western Balkans.
Universities and peacebuilding:
The role of universities in peacebuilding has been dicussed in the Western Balkans as part of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee program “Building bridges not walls – The role of universities in peacebuilding”.
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.
One year after Kazakhstani security forces shot 16 people following a strike in the oil town Zhanaozen in Western Kazakhstan, the authorities are intensifying the pressure against alternative voices in the country. The scrutiny also extends to activity outside the country’s borders. A Kazakhstani independent trade union activist was attempted kidnapped in Moscow this weekend. -Since the Zhanaozen events, Kazakhstan has moved in the wrong direction regarding civil society, states Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Bjørn Engesland. -Whilst trying to keep up appearances abroad, for example by becoming a member of the UN Human Rights Council, activists and independent media working for the same rights at home are subject to an unacceptable crack-down.
On 19 December 2010, two years ago today, thousands of peaceful citizens gathered in central Minsk, protesting the oppression and the stolen presidential elections. The protests were organised on the day of the last presidential elections officially won by Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko has been in power since 1994.
The Moscow City Court today decided to exclude the Russian Justice Initiative from the list of international organisations allowed to function in Russia. – The court decision sets an alarming precedence, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. It means that one of the biggest international human rights organisations in Russia is prohibited from doing its important work. It opens up for more similar cases against other international organisations.
NHC together with partner organisations Civil Society Institute and The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) call upon Armenian authorities to eliminate violations in the administration of justice and ensure the establishment of an independent judiciary and the rule of law. These steps are fundamental to the further democratic development of Armenia, and should be a prerequisite for any further engagement with the EU.
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.
New network established:
On 12th December 2012, Norwegian Helsinki Committee was among twelve civil society organisations supporting or conducting citizens’ election observation in the states of the Eastern Partnership, the Russian Federation, Norway and the European Union who launched the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) in Warsaw.
Bosnisk -serbiske Zadravko Tolimir ble 12.12.2012 dømt til livsvarig fengsel og funnet skyldig i blant annet folkemord ved Srebrenica og i tvungen befolkningsforflytning fra Srebernica og Zepa i FNs krigsforbryterdomstol for det tidligere Jugoslavia i Haag (ICTY).
Alerted by the recent sentence against civil society activist Vadim Kuramshin, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, International Partnership for Human Rights and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee call upon Kazakhstani authorities to ensure that activists are not punished for their civic engagement or for their exercise of their freedom of expression.
International Human Rights Day:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee dedicates this year’s International Human Rights Day to political prisoners in Belarus, and urges the European Union to join us in demanding their release.
In a statement supported by other Civic Solidarity Platform members, the NHC expresses regret that Baroness Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, did not use her recent visit to Central Asia to raise the human rights challenges in the region. This is particularly disappointing as the EU is about to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for its "advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights".
On 5 December the NHC and a range of other activists from Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia gathered at the OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference in Dublin Castle on the eve of the Ministerial Meeting. The organisations, representing the Civic Solidarity Platform, adopted the Dublin declaration on Human Rights Defenders and a document outlining civil society recommendations to the delegates of OSCE participating states gathered in Dublin for the 19th Ministerial meeting.
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.
Nobel Peace Prize:
In a letter signed by six human rights organizations, Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission and Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, are called upon to raise the issue of Chinese poet, human rights defender and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo at the Nobel Peace Award Ceremony on 10 December 2012. The signatory organizations include PEN International, Front Line Defenders, Protection International, OMCT, International Partnership for Human Rights, and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
Den norske Helsingforskomité oppfordrer statsminister Jens Stoltenberg og utenriksminister Espen Barth Eide til å ta opp menneskerettighetssituasjonen med Ukrainas statsminister Mykola Azarov, som er på statsbesøk i Norge torsdag og fredag.
The office of our partner in Belarus, prominent NGO 'Viasna', led by the imprisoned human rights defender Ales Bialiatski, was confiscated on 26 November. The move was the last fulfilment of the illegal conviction of Bialiatski just over one year ago. NHC has protested this last blow against Viasna through the network Civil Society Platform.
FNs torturkomite kommer med en rekke kritikkpunkter og anbefalinger til norske myndigheter etter å ha gjennomgått Norges rapport.
On Sunday 25 November 2012, Kyrgyzstan held local elections for 25 city councils and 416 village councils around the country. International observers paid particular attention to the elections in Kyrgyzstan’s largest city, the capital Bishkek, and large urban centers such as Jalalabad in the southern part of the country. Kyrgyzstan has traditionally seen a political division between north and south, where different groups tend to hold influence. Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s Central Asia representative Ivar Dale visited the capital during the elections.
Tuesday 20.11 Sonja Biserko, founder and President of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia, presented her book
"Yugoslavia’s Implosion" at The Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s seminar "Serbia - stuck in the past or proving EU worthy of
a peace prize?"
The seminar also featured Neil Campbell, head of EU policy development at the Open Society European Policy Institute in Brussels, and Aage Borchgrevink, Norwegian author and senior advisor at the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Sonja Biserko thanked the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, the publisher of the book, for being one of most important supporters of the HCHRS for two decades.
Oslo, 21.11: En ny lov trer i dag i kraft i Russland som krever at organisasjoner som mottar støtte fra utlandet må registrere seg som utenlandske agenter. En rekke russiske organisasjoner har protestert mot loven, fordi den skaper et bilde av dem som spioner eller agenter for fremmede stater. Den norske Helsingforskomiteen protesterer mot loven, som både mistenkeliggjør menneskerettsorganisasjoner og begrenser handlefriheten deres.
After the May 2012 elections, former key allies of Slobodan Milosevic became Serbia’s Prime Minister and President. Their declared goal is now EU membership. Is this goal credibly pursued by the new government? Does the process towards EU membership warrant the Noble Peace Price to the European Union? Tuesday 20.11 we launch the book “Yugoslavia’s Implosion: The Fatal Attraction of Serbian Nationalism” by Sonja Biserko, where she traces the roots of Serbia’s situation today.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce that the following projects have been selected to receive support from its annual Small Grants Fund.
Den norske Helsingforskomité tar avstand fra en ny ukrainsk lov som vil gjøre det forbudt å «propagandere for homoseksualitet» og som i praksis vil kunne brukes til å stoppe all positiv omtale av homofili.
- We are concerned with the reports that a conference aiming at discussing freedom of the internet allows restrictions on contributions from civil society – input that would contribute to a more open and relevant discussion, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. - One would think that the authorities had learned from the discussions that surrounded the Eurovision Song Contest that such restrictions and violations do not pass unnoticed, and do not reflect positively on the country’s image.
Write Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenka and ask for an end to the harassment of journalist Iryna Khalip.
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.
The UN CEDAW committee is “seriously concerned about attitudes and policies reinforcing discriminatory traditional norms, harmful practices and patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes […] in all spheres of life” in Turkmenistan.
Parlamentsvalget 28. oktober forsterker dessverre inntrykket av at Ukraina er i fred med å forlate Oransjerevolusjonens løfter om mer demokrati. Fengsling av opposisjonspolitikere og og andre former for maktmisbruk er i ferd med å bli et alvorlig hinder på veien til ukrainsk integrering i Europa, sier Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, assisterende generalsekretær.
On 15 October, the well-known Uzbek human rights activist Mutabar Tajibayeva participated in a joint NHC/NOAS seminar on Uzbekistan in Oslo. More than 30 guests from immigration authorities, ministries and other interested attended the seminar and the following movie screening aimed at shedding some light on the human rights situation behind the closed gates of Uzbekistan.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was disappointed to learn of the 7 ½ year prison sentence given to Kazakhstan opposition leader Vladimir Kozlov on 8 October 2012. Kozlov is the head of the main opposition party in Kazakhstan, Alga (Forward).
Universal Periodic Review:
– The Norwegian Helsinki Committee remains deeply concerned about the current human rights situation in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, which begs improvement on every aspect of fundamental human rights, says Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Bjørn Engesland. Both states are counted amongst the most repressive not only in the Central Asian region, but also in the world as a whole. Torture, political use of the judiciary and repression of media and civil society is widespread.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns today’s decision by the Serbian Authorities to ban Belgrade Pride 2012. This is the third time that the parade has been banned. The parade, belonging to an international movement of peaceful celebrations of diversity, is an important way to attract attention to the rights of equality before the law for all persons defining themselves as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans and Intersex persons (LGBTI). Banning the parade indicates that Serbian Authorities are not prepared to secure the rights to freedom of assembly and expression for one of Europe’s most vulnerable minorities.
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.
Den hviterussiske politiske fangen, den anerkjente menneskerettighetsaktivisten og Nobelpriskandidaten fylles femti år i dag. Over hele Europa blir hans fødselsdag markert, og Den norske Helsingforskomité slutter seg til en uke av gratulasjoner til Ales. Ales Bialiatski, leder av den kjente menneskerettighetsorganisasjonen Viasna i Hviterussland ble i november i fjor tid dømt til fire og et halvt års fengsel for skatteunndragelse samt til inndragning av eiendom.
Norge bør ratifisere den valgfrie protokollen til FNs torturkonvensjon og opprette et nasjonalt tilsynsorgan for tortur i
Norge, skriver Helsingforskomiteen sammen med Amnesty International i et høringssvar.
-Tilsynet bør utføres av en ny nasjonal institusjon for menneskerettigheter som etableres som en sterk og uavhengig kommisjon for menneskerettigheter, slik Helsingforskomiteen tidligere har gått inn for, sier Generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland.
In cooperation with local activists, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has submitted an alternative report to the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women’s (CEDAW) 53 Session on 11 October, where Turkmenistan will be heard in Geneva.
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.
Helsingforskomiteen 35 år:
I 35 år har Den norske Helsingforskomité arbeidet for demokrati og menneskerettigheter. Kampen er ennå ikke vunnet, men pågår i dag. I denne kampen kan du bidra: Den norske Helsingforskomité trenger din støtte i kampen for menneskerettigheter i Europa!
Menneskerettigheter i Norge:
På vegne av en rekke representanter for norsk sivilsamfunn, alle medlemmer i NGO-forum for menneskerettigheter, har Den norske
Helsingforskomité oversendt et brev til Statsminister Jens Stoltenberg, hvor organisasjoene tar opp en bekymringsverdig utvikling
når det gjelder åpenhet og deltakelse for frivillige organisasjoner i spørsmål som har med Norges internasjonale menneskerettighetsforpliktelser
Oppdatering 2. september 2012: Svar på brevet fra utenriksminister Jonas Gahr Støre kan leses nedenfor.
I et brev til Utenriksminister Jonas Gahr Støre, uttrykker Helsingforskomiteen sammen men en rekke norske organisasjoner bekymring for prosessen rundt reetableringen av Nasjonal Institusjon for menneskerettigheter i Norge.
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.
Job vacancy announcement:
We are currently seeking a highly qualified person to be the regional coordinator of the (EU-funded) program “Coalition for trust” in the South Caucasus. The aim of the program is to contribute to building knowledge and trust between people in a region marked by conflict and human rights violations. Activities include education and training, network building, advocacy and activism.
Five Year Anniversary of EU Central Asia Strategy:
- Five years on, there is broad consensus that the human rights dialogues established with the Central Asian governments and other measures taken to implement the Strategy’s human rights objectives have not been as effective as desired. The overall human rights situation in Central Asia has not improved in any substantial way and, in some respects, human rights protection has even deteriorated in the countries of the region. NHC is among the signatories of an appeal to the European Union in occation of the five year anniversary of the EU Central Asia strategy.
Helsingforskomiteens Enver Djuliman deltok i panel på Litteraturhuset i Oslo under den årlige markeringen av folkemordet i Srebrenica den 11. juni. - Folkemordet i Srebrenica er ikke bare bosniakisk, det tilhører like mye serberne og kroatene, og bevisstheten om og anerkjennelsen av de historiske realitetene er viktig for alle, sa Djuliman i sin innledning på seminaret.
A dedicated human rights defender and our good friend Boris Zvoskov, head of the Legal Initiative human rights association, has died, after a prolonged disease. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has known and cooperated closely with Boris for over ten years. We extend our deepest condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.
In a letter addressed to Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre today, NHC express concern with recent developments in the Russian Federation related to the on-going crackdown against opposition leaders and human rights activists, as well as the adoption of restrictive legislation on public rallies. - President Putin pledged to inspire “greater participation of citizens in public affairs” and to have “more consultations with different sectors of society about legal reforms” on the day of his inauguration, Secretary Bjørn Engelsnad says. Recent developments stand in sharp contrast to these words.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee congratulates the organizers of Pride Parade “Equal – before the law” in Split this Saturday. Despite fear of violent incidents, 600 persons managed to walk through the city and make the parade a celebration of human rights and equality; the very nature of pride parades.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee participated in a picket in front of the Ukrainian Embassy in Oslo Monday, passing on a statement to Counsellor Vitalii Pantus. The statement comes as a reaction to the recent violent attacks on a peaceful demonstration organized by Ukrainian LGBTI organizations, where several activists were victims of violence. – We are concerned with the development in many European countries. It seems to be a trend of violent intolerance that is unacceptable in countries that are aspiring at rapprochement to Europe, hosting European Championships in Football, Olympic Games or applying for EU membership, says Secretary General Bjørn Engesland.
In a letter sent today to the Federal Minister of Justice in Austria Dr. Beatrix Karl, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, together with Human Rights Watch, Civil Rights Defenders, Austrian Helsinki Association, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), urges the Austrian government to request the extradition of Lecha Bogatyrov from the Russian Federation. Lecha Bogatyrov is the man who allegedly fired the fatal shots that killed the Chechen exile Umar Israilov on the streets of Vienna in January 2009. Three men were convicted 1 June 2011 by the Vienna Landesgericht to long prison sentences for the killing of Israilov, but the current current impunity for Mr. Israilov’s alleged killer should be treated as a political issue by the Austrian government.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee expresses full support for the Split Pride Parade “Equal before the Law”, which despite political pressure and threats of violence will be organized on Saturday 9 June.
On 22 and 23 May, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Coalition for the International Criminal Court organized a seminar in Almaty, Kazakhstan with participants from civil society in all five Central Asian republics.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased to announce the continuation of our small grants fund for Central Asia. All organizations with project proposals related to human rights, democratization or strengthening of civil society may apply. While we are open to all good proposals, we encourage projects in Kazakhstan related to the outlying regions of the country. In Kyrgyzstan, we are particularly interested in projects addressing the basic human rights of vulnerable groups as well as legal initiatives. In Tajikistan, strengthening of the media and the rights of children is important. In addition to our regular program, we are glad to announce that additional grants have been allocated for smaller projects in Kazakhstan. These grants may be up to 9,999 USD, and are intended to support projects in more outlying regions of the country. The deadline and other requirements are the same.
The report “A Chronicle of Violence: The events in the south of Kyrgyzstan in June 2010 (Osh Region)”, published today, gives a detailed chronology of the events in the Osh Province in the period 29 April to 15 June 2010, as well as an analysis of available information and statistics related to the violence in the south of Kyrgyzstan in June 2010. The 200-page report was prepared by Memorial Human Rights Center (Russia), the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (Norway) and Freedom House (USA).
On 16 April 2012, the Helsinki Citizen’s Assembly Vanadzor, a partner organization of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, was subject to harassment by a large crowd on the eve of a movie screening. Police authorities did not protect the human rights defenders, and damage was made to the premises of the organization. Now, several international and regional organisations have sent a letter to the Armenian authorities, urging proper investigation of the events and protection of human rights defenders in Armenia.
The International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (the IPGA), has launched its website www.AzerbaijanFreeXpression.org ahead of this week’s Eurovision Song Competition in Baku, Azerbaijan. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee, present in Baku this week, is a member of the coalition.
The campaign "Don't play with the dictator" has expressed disappointment with the decision by the International Ice-hockey Federation IIHF confirming at its general assembly in Helsinki that the Republic of Belarus will host the 2014 IIHF World Championship.
As a Norwegian partner, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee is pleased with the implementation of the Oslo Freedom Forum 2012, which took place 7 - 9 May. The 2012 Forum has been the best so far, and the NHC is proud to be associated with both the conference and with its participants.
Oppgjør med fortiden fortsatt en politisk utfordring:
- Rettsaken er viktig fordi den gir landene i regionen en mulighet til å ta innover seg hvilke forbrytelser som faktisk ble begått. Det er nødvendig for å bidra til en mer normalisert og tolerant samfunnsutvikling og til bedre relasjoner mellom landene på Vest-Balkan. Dette viser at oppgjøret med krigsforbrytelser ikke er et kapittel som er lukket med utleveringen av de siste ettersøkte fra Serbia til Haag, sier Helsingforskomiteens Balkanrådgver Ole Benny Lilleås.
Seminar: Serbia at another crossroad:
- The most basic European value that Serbia needs is respect for the rule of law and legal procedure, said Sonja Biserko at the seminar “Serbia at another crossroad” hosted by the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, just four days before elections in Serbia.
Parliamentary elections on Sunday 6 May was the country’s first elections since the disputed 2008 Presidential elections that led to strong protests and eight persons being killed by security forces. – There were a few improvements from previous elections, but abuse of administrative resources and pressure on voters remained a serious problem, says Lene Wetteland, Advisor who observed Sunday’s election. – Authorities had promised that elections would be conducted according to international standards. But if you are told that your job depends on supporting the President’s party, you stop believing in such promises, she continues.
- Den nye regjeringen vil ha mange store utfordringer. Serbia har forpliktet seg til omfattende reformer på viktige områder som diskrimineringsvern, frie medier og oppgjør med fortiden, men har så langt ikke demonstrert evne til å sørge for en reell implementering av disse, sier Ole B. Lilleås, seniorrådgiver i Den norske Helsingforskomité som observerte søndagens valg i Serbia.
– The Tymoshenko and similar cases is part of a widespread and deep rooted problem in Ukraine, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General. Even though Ukrainian officials portray the cases as anti-corruption, they clearly form part of a pattern of selective justice and political influence over the judiciary. It is important that Norway and other European governments and institutions step up pressure to end these practices. Beginning in May 2010, a number of criminal cases were opened against former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. On 11 October 2011 a court found her guilty of abuse of power, and sentenced her to seven years in jail.
Sunday 6 May citizens of Serbia will vote in presidential, parliamentary, regional and local elections. Even though it is wider support for the need for European integration now than in 2008, it is obvious that the candidates struggle to prevent that this ambition alienates voters.
A Just Russia party candidate in the 4 March 2012 mayor elections in Astrakhan, Oleg Shein, ended his 40 days hunger strike on 24 April after receiving access to webcam videos from polling stations in Astrakhan. Shein and his supporters had filed a law suit claiming that massive fraud had taken place during the elections. – The Central Election Commission should give full access to videos in order to help investigation of all substantiated cases of fraud, says Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal, Deputy Secretary General.
Elections in Armenia:
Presidential elections of 19 February 2008 and the subsequent unrest of 1 March, where 10 people lost their lives, and more than hundred were arrested or injured. In the campaign leading up to the elections, President Sargsyan has on several occasions stated the importance of free and fair elections. - It is of utmost importance that these promises are followed up by action, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. Norwegian Helsinki Committee's Lene Wetteland is in Armenia during the elections.
Den norske Helsingforskomité avholdt sitt årsmøte for styre og rådsmedlemmer den 26. april. Årsmøtet ga i årets uttalelse bred støtte til det aktuelle forslaget om å innlemme menneskerettighetene i Grunnloven.
Authorities should take steps to initiate an open and inclusive process of revising the Bakiyev-era Religion Law, says Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. – The 2009 Religion Law fails to comply with the Constitution and with international human rights standards. It severely restricts religious freedoms, including imposing registration requirements that in effect ban registration of new religious communities other than the Orthodox Church and the Spiritual Board of Moslems.
Invitation to the seminar:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee has the pleasure of inviting you to our seminar
Parliamentary, presidential and local elections:
- Serbia at another crossroad
Time: Wednesday 2 May 13:30 – 16:00
Venue: Litteraturhuset, Wergelandsveien 29, Oslo,
Norsk PEN, Human Rights House Foundation og Den norske Helsingforskomité har i dag sendt brev til Utenriksdepartementet med forslag til en ny strategi for Hviterussland. Forslagene er utarbeidet i rammen av vår kampanje "Aksjon Hviterussland" som har som mål å øke norsk og internasjonalt engasjement for den menneskerettslige krisen i Hviterussland. Norge gjør mye riktig i forholdet til Hviterussland, men det har lenge vært begrenset diplomatisk kontakt mellom landene. Norge støtter EUs sanksjonsregime og gir økende økonomisk støtte til det hviterussiske sivile samfunn. Men vi etterlyser ytterligere tiltak og kreativitet for å legge press på det hviterussiske regimet.
Together with several international human rights organisations, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee strongly condemns the brutal attack on the Azerbaijani journalist Idrak Abbasov and four other journalists on 18 April 2012. In a letter adressed to President Ilham Aliyev the NHC demands that the Azerbaijani authorities launch an immediate, independent and transparent investigation into these brutal attacks. Read the letter in full below.
-Norge kan gjøre en forskjell i den postsovjetiske regionen, sier generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland.
Nylig deltok Engesland i et møte sammen med andre menneskerettighetsorganisasjoner og ga innspill til utenriksminister Jonas Gahr Støre for strategier for Russland, Hviterussland og Kasakhstan.
The Coalition for the International Criminal Court (CICC), a global network of more than 2500 organizations including the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, urges Kazakhstan to accede to the ICC Rome Statute. - Central Asia is significantly underrepresented at the Court; only Tajikistan is a state party, said William R. Pace, Convenor of the CICC in a letter addressed to H.E. President Nursultan Nazarbayev. - When Kazakhstan joins the international justice system established by the Rome Statute and represented by the ICC, it will give the region a greater voice in the global fight to end impunity, and it will be an important step forward nationally toward greater commitment to justice and accountability, he highlighted.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is among international NGOs who today started a joint campaign for the removal of Ice Hockey World Championship from Belarus.
European Court of Human Rights:
Norwegian Helsinki Committee has written a letter to the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs concerning the reform of the European Court of Human Rights. The letter is part of a joint NGO action, led by Amnesty International and other leading European human rights organizations, to campaign for safeguarding the integrity and the authority of the Court in these negotiations and to ensure that it remains effectively accessible to individuals claiming to be victims of violations of their Convention rights.
Dokumentar om Srebrenica:
I forbindelse med at Sveriges television (SVT) i august 2011 sendte dokumentaren "Byen som kunne ofres", ble SVT 2. april felt i Granskningsnemden, Sveriges ekvivalent til PFU.
European Development Bank:
European Bank for Reconstruction and Development must maintain demands that Turkmenistan and Belarus meet set benchmarks before any investment in the restrictive countries. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee today participated in a meeting at the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in London, discussing the Bank’s calibrated approach towards Belarus and Turkmenistan. The two authoritarian countries are the only cases in which the EBRD has initiated such an approach that allows for closer monitoring of the progress or regress towards set benchmarks on political and economic reform, and more rapid response to the development.
On 15 March the European Parliament adopted a resolution that is clear in its criticism of the latest developments in Kazakhstan, and which expresses concern with the human rights situation. In that connection, the NHC sent a statement to the European Parliament jointly with the International Partnership for Human Rights in Brussels and the Netherlands Helsinki Committee in The Hague, in an appeal to use the new cooperation agreement to push for follow-through on Kazakhstan’s human rights promises.
Today marks the launch of a new report by the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (IPGA), Running Scared: Azerbaijan’s Silenced Voices. The report highlights the climate of fear and pervasive self-censorship in Azerbaijan, with few brave journalists, bloggers and activists remaining. In the run-up to the Eurovision Song Contest in Baku in May, the IPGA calls on the international community to engage the Azerbaijani authorities on these issues now. The NHC is a member of the IGPA network, and you can download the report below.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (IPGA) condemns the blackmail and continued harassment of one of the few independent investigative journalists working in Azerbaijan, Khadija Ismayilova. The most recent episode in the harassment campaign involves a one minute film of an intimate nature being posted on the internet on Wednesday March 14). A week earlier Ismayilova said she had received a letter including intimate photographs and a threat, stating "Whore, behave. Or you will be defamed”. Ismayilova has refused to give in to the blackmail attempts.
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.
Conference in Oslo 22 March:
Norwegian PEN, Human Rights House Foundation and Norwegian Helsinki Committee invite you to the conference "Action on Belarus!" in Litteraturhuset in Oslo on 22 March. We are proud to present prominent speakers from Belarus, Norway and European institutions, including the Secretary General of the Council of Europe Thorbjørn Jagland and State Secretary of Foreign Affairs Torgeir Larsen. The questions we aim to answer are: Is the pursued policy efficient? Is Norway’s policy towards Belarus clear enough? How can we offer more support to freedom-longing Belarusians? And is the Belarusian people ready for a change?
Today marks the seventh anniversary of the murder of Monitor editor-in-chief Elmar Huseynov, who was fatally gunned down in his apartment building in a well-organised attack in 2005. Since Elmar Huseynov’s murder, there have been dozens of violent attacks against journalists in Azerbaijan, including the murder of prominent journalist and writer Rafig Tagi in November 2011. None of these attacks have been seriously investigated or prosecuted, resulting in a climate of impunity for those who wish to use violence to silence critical voices. Elmar Huseynov's widow has complained the apparent inactivity of the Azerbaijani Government to the European Court of Human Rights.
Three days ahead of the 4 March 2012 Presidential elections in Russia there is little doubt about the outcome. Despite increasing public protests against prime minister Vladimir Putin, all indications suggest that he will declare victory, probably after the first ballot. This will happen in an environment where free and fair elections are not possible. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) will be present in Moscow during the elections.
In late January and beginning of February, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee conducted a fact-finding mission to Hungary. Due to recent concerns on threats to democratic rule in Hungary, expressed both by Hungarian and international observers, the NHC wanted to get a better understanding of current legal and political developments in the country. This report presents the findings from the mission, and contains the Norwegian Helsinki Committee's recommendations to the Government of Hungary, the European Union and to the Norwegian Government.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is disappointed to learn that authorities in Kyrgyzstan have moved to block access to a highly
respected news agency covering the Central Asian region, Ferghana.ru.
The decision is not only in breach of the country’s international obligations with respect to media freedoms, but stands in contrast to the positive level of openness which has characterized Kyrgyzstan in recent years.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was delighted to learn Friday that prominent Kazakhstani human rights defender Evgeniy Zhovtis was finally released from prison in Ust-Kamenogorsk. Having been amnestied after serving 2,5 years in prison following a highly politicized trial in 2009, Zhovtis can now rejoin his family, friends and colleagues in Almaty.
- Putin will not survive the next presidential term. He will off course win the upcoming elections, he is in reality the only candidate, but he will be replaced within two years. The Russian political elites will ensure this, together with the protesters in the streets. This was one of the conclusions of Nicolay Petrov, who participated at The Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s seminar Presidential Elections in Russia – a New Spring?, at the House of Literature in Oslo on 15 February.
Helsingforskomiteen og 26 andre organisasjoner ber regjeringen om å signere og ratifisere FNs klageordning for barns rettigheter. Seremonien er om knappe tre uker. - Norge kan gå foran og gi et viktig internasjonalt signal for å fremme barns rettigheter internasjonalt ved å signere og ratifisere tilleggsprotokollen til FNs barnekonvensjon. På denne måten kan vi bidra til at også de mest utsatte barna i land med svake rettssystemer og svakt rettsvern kan få bedre beskyttelse, sier seniorrådgiver Ole Benny Lilleås. Foto: Redd Barna/Nevruz Aksu
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is disappointed to learn of raids and arrests of opposition politicians and journalists in Almaty, Kazakhstan on 23 January 2012. The arrests are connected to the ongoing investigation of the events in Zhanozen on 16 December 2011.- Authorities seem intent on cracking down on remaining opposition rather than to carry out a transparent investigation to establish responsibility for the many deaths during these tragic events, says Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee Bjørn Engesland.
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.
Invitation to the seminar::
In the Bosnian war ethnic cleansing was directed not only against civilian populations, but also against religious buildings and other traces of existence of the cleansed groups from captured areas. After the war there has been a struggle between the idea to resurrect and reconstruct the symbols of the past and the idea to erect novel symbols and buildings reflecting the politics of identity and the cultural supremacy of the dominant group. In other Western Balkan states there seems to be an upsurge in religious and nationalist symbols demarcating a particular territory for a dominant nation.