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NHC urges Council of Europe’s member states to take action now to ensure the release of the political prisoner in Azerbaijan.
The July 9 decision of the government of Kyrgyzstan to deny Vitaliy Ponomarev, Central Asia Programme Director for Human Rights Center Memorial, entry to the country was wrong and raises deep concern as to its motivation, members of the Civic Solidarity Platform said in a statement.
On June 13 the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and Human Rights Watch sent letters to the president and foreign councillor of Switzerland and the president of Finland, urging them to raise human rights issues during their official visits Kazakhstan this summer. June 10 marked the official opening of the Expo 2017 in Astana. The expo, dedicated to energy of the future, is the first world exposition to be held in Central Asia, and is estimated to have cost between $3 and $5 billion. According to local news, at least 17 heads of state will visit the expo before it closes at September 10.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee joins protests in reaction to credible reports of the arrest, torture, and conviction following unfair trials, and imprisonment under inhumane conditions of 18 men in Turkmenistan. The sentences, from 12 to 25 years, were handed down in a closed, two-hour trial, and set out in a summary of the verdict that lacks any information about the specific acts the men are accused of committing or the evidence against them.
Letter to the Prime Minister of Georgia:
In a letter to the Prime Minsiter of Georgia, NHC has joined several human rights organisations to express our concern about the abduction of Afgan Mukhtarli, an exiled Azerbaijani journalist, on 29 May in Tbilisi. He went missing after leaving his colleagues in the evening, before resurfacing the following day in Baku in the custody of Azerbaijan’s state border agency. Mukhtarli reports that he was forced into a car near his home, tied up and beaten. His abductors put a bag over his head and 10,000 euros were stuffed into his pockets while crossing the Azerbaijani border. We question the role of Georgia in letting this abduction take place.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee urges Ukrainian authorities to support and protect Kyiv Pride Week, which will be organized June 9 to 18, 2017. An important part of the program will be the KyivPride March on 18 June, a manifestation in support of fundamental human rights and freedom from violence for Lesbian, Gay, Bi- Trans- and Intersex persons (LGBTI) in Ukraine.
The Council of Europe’s legitimacy is at stake over Azerbaijan’s persistent non-compliance with the European Court judgment. On 22 May, three years had passed since the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) delivered its judgment on the case of political prisoner Ilgar Mammadov, concluding that the Azerbaijani authorities had detained him to punish him for his criticism of the government.
The United Nations high commissioner for human rights called on President Shavkat Mirziyoyev of Uzbekistan on May 10 and 11, 2017, to turn his government’s pledges for reform into concrete human rights improvements and fulfill its obligations under human rights law, eight human rights groups said today. The rights groups endorsed the high commissioner’s recommendations, calling on Mirziyoyev to end ongoing abuses and deliver on Uzbekistan’s human rights commitments in full.
NHC has issued a statement protesting the conviction of Dr Serdar Küni, from Turkey, addressed to the Gaziantepe Regional High Court. The statement is supported by 28 other organisations from various countries. Küni's prosecution is part of a wave of arrests, dismissals and other legal actions taken against human rights defenders, medical professionals, lawyers, journalists, and academics since July 2015 in Southeast Turkey, and throughout Turkey after the failed military coup in July 2016. The statement underlines the principal importance of the case. Dr. Küni is a medical doctor, and is therefore under a professional duty to provide medical assistance to any person in need of such assistance. He is also a human rights defender.
Azerbaijan and EITI:
"We, the undersigned groups, are writing to express our serious concern about your recent statements concerning the EITI and its decision to suspend Azerbaijan". NHC has signed a letter to the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
World Press Freedom Day:
Joint Statement: As World Press Freedom Day is celebrated across the globe on May 3, we, the undersigned organizations, cannot forget the untenable price journalists pay for government criticism in Azerbaijan. The case of Mehman Huseynov is emblematic.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee expresses concern about increased political tension in Macedonia after protesters forced their way into the Parliament in Skopje Thursday 27 April.
Grove overgrep i Tsjetsjenia må straffeforfølges:
Årsmøtet 2017 i Den norske Helsingforskomité har vedtatt en uttalelse som krever at Russland etterforsker og strafforfølger de ansvarlige for grove overgrep i Tsjetsjenia. Avisen Novaja Gazeta har publisert grufulle avsløringer om at over hundre homofile i den russiske delrepublikken Tsjetsjenia skal ha blitt innbrakt, plassert i irregulære fengsler og utsatt for grov tortur, og minst tre personer skal være drept. I etterkant har det kommet alvorlige trusler mot avisen og dens støttespillere.
“The trial proceedings against Dr. Küni ignored the most basic of international fair trial standards, and failed to take into account the arbitrary nature of the charges against him”. Deputy Secretary General Gunnar Ekeløve-Slydal is currently on mission to Turkey. He is part of an international trial monitoring group, monitoring the trial against Dr. Serdar Küni, a medical doctor who provided medical treatment during clashes in Cizre in 2015 and 2016.
Måten folkeavstemningen i Tyrkia for omfattende endringer av grunnloven ble gjennomført på bidro til ytterligere å splitte landet og økte kritikken om at President Recep Tayyip Erdogan er i ferd med å utvikle et autoritært styre. Erdogan etablerer, som i Putins Russland, illiberalt demokrati som gir valgvinneren rett til å overkjøre de som ikke deler hans syn. Assisterende generalsekretær Gunnar M. Ekeløve-Slydal deltar i en internasjonal delegasjon som observerer rettssaken mot legen og menneskerettighetsforkjemperen Serdar Küni, som finner sted 24. april i Sirnak, en by i Øst-Tyrkia nær grensen til Irak.
North Caucasus report in PACE:
Ahead of the spring session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), Amnesty International, Article 19, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Center “Memorial” and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee have written to the members of the Assembly to urge them to participate in the Plenary debate on the report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on “Human Rights in the North Caucasus” and to support the adoption of the very important resolution and recommendations raised by the report.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is among 56 Non-governmental organisations have appealed to the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) for launching external, independent, and impartial investigation into allegations of corruption and other violations of the Parliamentary Assembly Code of Conduct in connection with its work on Azerbaijan.
Det er positivt at Norge og Kina gjenoppretter normale politiske relasjoner, sier Helsingforskomiteen i et brev til statsminister Erna Solberg. Brevet er sendt i et samarbeid med Den norske advokatforeningens menneskerettighetsutvalg, Amnesty International i Norge, Norsk PEN og Den norske Tibetkomité. Men de gjenopprettede relasjonene kan ikke bygge på at Norge unnlater å ta opp de omfattende bruddene på menneskerettighetene i landet. Den moderne menneskerettighetstanken bygger på at disse rettighetene er grunnverdiene for det internasjonale samfunnet og skal beskyttes og fremmes gjennom at landene holder hverandre ansvarlige. En god dialog mellom statene er forutsetning for at dette skal fungere.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Civic Assistance Committee in Moscow have today sent a letter to the presidents of FIFA and UEFA, urging them to initiate investigation into allegations of the use of North Korean slave labour during the construction of the football stadium Zenit Arena in St. Petersburg. While there are still numerous violations of human rights with respect to workers and migrants in Russia, it is vital that well-known and respected international bodies such as FIFA, do not become complicit in such practices, and act upon the human rights commitments underlined in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Sustainability Strategy and FIFA 2.0: The Vision for the Future.
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.
We strongly condemn the continuing wave of detentions and harassment of peaceful protesters, journalists, human rights defenders,
civil society activists, anarchists and opposition party members in Belarus. More than 250 people have been detained since
3 March, and several detentions have been carried out with excessive use of force. On the eve of planned demonstrations in
Minsk and several other places in Belarus on 25 March, we urge President Lukashenka to abide human rights principles.
Photo by Andrey Liankevich.
Den norske Helsingforskomité har sammen med NOAS, Jussbuss og Antirasistisk senter sendt brev til Kommunal- og forvaltningskomiteen på Stortinget med støtte til et forslag om at statsborgerskap bare bør kunne tilbakekalles ved dom. En viktig grunn til at vi har fått en debatt om å endre dagens praksis, hvor det er UDI/UNE som tar beslutningen, er at det er blitt kjent gjennom media at velintegrerte personer med sterk tilknytning til Norge over mange år blir fratatt sitt statsborgerskap fordi UDI/UNE mener at de har gitt feil informasjon. Organisasjonene støtter lovfesting av kravet til forholdsmessighet i vurderingen av tilbakekall. Kravet bør konkretiseres ved at det innføres en foreldelsesfrist. For å sikre en rettssikker prosess, er det domstolene som bør vurdere forholdsmessigheten.
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.
NHC has signed on to an Open Letter to the European Union College of Commissioners regarding the situation in Poland. The letter urges the College to pursue the enforcement action against the government of Poland under the Article 7 of the EU treaty, as the government of Poland continues to undermine the rule of law. NHC supports the letter in the framework of our membership in the International Federation for Human Rights, FIDH.
Today, the Turkmenistan Civic Solidarity Group issues a statement regarding Sunday's Presidential "Elections" in Turkmenistan. In it, the organisations urge all interested parties, including the OSCE and other international organizations, to take a principled stance and to not recognize the presidential “elections” in Turkmenistan as free, transparent, fair, competitive, and in accordance with international standards.
- Den norske Helsingforskomité støtter forslaget om å endre statsborgerloven § 26 slik at tilbakekallelser av statsborgerskap bare kan skje ved dom*. Regjeringen bør avvente saksbehandling av tilbakekallelser til regelverket er endret. Dette sa Helsingforskomiteens assisterende generalsekretær Gunnar Ekeløve-Slydal i sitt innlegg på åpen høring i Stortingets kommunal- og forvaltningskomité 9. februar 2017.
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.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is seriously concerned for the future of Hungarian NGOs working for the protection and promotion of democracy and human rights, for marginalized groups and transparency. Legislation which has recently been proposed by the Hungarian Government will, possibly unconstitutionally, target and paralyze non-government organisations that receive grants from foreign funds.
The undersigned organisations, including the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, strongly condemn the abduction and torture of Azerbaijani journalist Mehman Huseynov and call on Azerbaijan’s authorities to immediately investigate the case and to hold those responsible accountable. Moreover, Huseynov’s conviction should be overturned and the travel ban against him lifted.
Human Rights Center (HRIDC), Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) call on the Georgian authorities to take concrete steps towards accountability for crimes committed during 2008 war, including, renew investigative activities, ensure access of victims of the August 2008 war to their national case file and renew communication with the victims in order to respect their rights to effectively participate in national proceedings.
Prison authorities in Uzbekistan have placed Muhammad Bekjanov, one of the world’s longest-imprisoned journalists, in solitary confinement, the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia (AHRCA), Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR), the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and the Uzbek–German Forum for Human Rights (UGF) said today.
During the first round of the Parliamentary Elections in Georgia on 8 October 2016, three international election observers were attacked and the vote count disrupted in the village of Jikhashkari. One observer was beaten and two others had their mobile phones taken away from them by force. It is vital that the incident is properly investigated.
Today we signed this Open Letter to the United Nations General Assembly on the Human Rights Council report, to express our
concern regarding new attempts to obstruct the mandate of the UN Independent Expert to address violence and discrimination
based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Urgent action is needed - again. Did your organization sign?
In another farcical day in a Baku court today, 21-year old activist Bayram Mammadov was sentenced to 10 years in jail. He was arrested simply for spraying graffiti, but was later tortured into confessing to serious drug crimes. Bogus drug possession charges to silence critical voices is not new in Azerbaijan, where the authorities widely plant drugs on their opponents to lock them up.
The government of Azerbaijan is carrying out a multi-pronged attack on freedom of expression, including introducing harsh penalties for critical speech online, imprisoning young activists for nothing more than graffiti, blocking access to websites of independent media, and harassing and violating the rights of journalists and activists. The undersigned organisations call upon the Azerbaijani authorities to reverse this alarming trend and respect basic human rights and freedoms, as well as for international partners to ensure Azerbaijan honours its treaty commitments as a state party to the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
-Authorities in Kazakhstan must ensure civil society organizations the freedom to fully carry out their activities in accordance with domestic law and international human rights standards, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee. – In a recent development local authorities have aimed to thwart civic education events organized by the not-for-profit organization Youth Information Service of Kazakhstan (YISK).
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the five-year sentence given yesterday to peaceful activists Max Bokayev and Talgat Ayan in retaliation for their peaceful protest against proposed amendments to the country’s land-law in April and May. The harsh prison sentence is in violation of the Constitution of Kazakhstan and the country’s international human rights obligations, and must therefore be quashed, the NHC said.
Uzbek authorities should ensure a thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the alleged torture of two brothers by the Uzbek National Security Service (SNB), and the death in custody of one of them, Human Rights Watch, the International Partnership for Human Rights, Freedom House, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today.
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.
Letter to the Members of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative Board on the Working Conditions of Civil Society
In light of the upcoming review of Azerbaijan's status in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in October, the undersigned organisations call on the EITI Board to suspend Azerbaijan from participation in EITI, due to continuous breach of the initiative’s requirements for fostering an enabling environment for civil society. The letter is published jointly by 18 NGOs.
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH has issued an urgent appeal in the case of the physical attack aganist election observers from a joint mission of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC), International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE):
(Berlin, Brussels, Oslo and Tbilisi, 9 October 2016) The joint international election observation mission of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC), European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), International Elections Study Center (IESC) and International Partnership for Human Rights (IPHR) and was established in Georgia on 12 September. On Election Day, the Mission deployed 36 international observers who visited more than 200 polling stations across the country. This preliminary statement summarizes our findings.
Serious Blow to Independence of Legal Profession. – A court in Tajikistan on October 6, 2016, sentenced two prominent human rights lawyers to long prison terms, Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today
Referendum in Azerbaijan:
Amid reports of fraud and pressure against voters, Baku's Central Election Commission has preliminary announced an overwheling victory for the amendments, which include an extension of the presidential term from five to seven years. The alarming consequences of the constitutional amendments after yesterday´s referendum will increase the power of the President, dramatically weaken democratic institutions and will further isolate and repress dissent in Azerbaijan. NHC has made a statement highly critical of the amendments and calls for sanctions against the regime.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC) asks that Zaporozhie Regional and City- Authorities protect the Equality Festival scheduled for 24 September. The organizers have been met with homophobic and transphobic threats from right wing extremists as well as protests from the City authorities, and the Jewish Community Center "Max Grant" that should have been the festival venue cancelled their contract due to fear of repercussions.
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.
International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances:
On this International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances, the Prove They Are Alive! campaign reaffirms its solidarity with all victims of disappearances in Turkmenistan’s prisons and their families, urges the Turkmen authorities to immediately end this gross violation of human rights, and calls on the international community to make the ending of enforced disappearances in Turkmenistan’s prisons a key condition for development of cooperation with the Turkmen government and firmly demand that Turkmenistan implement international legal norms and its obligations in the framework of these organisations.
Less than six weeks ahead of a constitutional referendum, the Azerbaijani authorities have unleashed a new wave of repression to silence critical voices. NHC, as a Sport for Rights coalition member, condemns this renewed crackdown, and and joins the call on the Azerbaijani authorities to take immediate steps to improve the human rights situation in the country, starting with the release of political prisoners.
The newly formed Coalition for the Right to Peaceful Assembly in Kazakhstan have documented sweeping government interference with the rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in the run-up to, and during, planned peaceful protests on 21 May. The Coalition also documented violations of the right to legal counsel in a series of cases. All findings, along with recommendations are published in a preliminary report by the coalition. “Arresting activists and social media users for expressing their intention to participate in peaceful protests as outlined in this thorough report is a clear violation of Kazakhstan’s international obligations and must be addressed accordingly, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
Happy birthday Ilgar:
Today, the opposition leader Ilgar Mammadov spends his 46th birthday in one of the vile prisons in Azerbaijan, prisons which have a history of housing dissidents. In May 2014, the European Court of Human Rights concluded, in a strongly worded judgment, that the actual purpose of Mammadov’s detention “was to silence or punish Mammadov for criticizing the government.” Citing that ruling, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has called repeatedly for Mammadov’s release. Yet the government, which controls the courts, the parliament and the media, remains deaf to the calls.
– Tajikistan’s Supreme Court sentenced leaders of the Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan (IRPT) on June 2, 2016 to lengthy prison terms on charges of attempting to overthrow the government, Human Rights Watch, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, and the Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said today. The sentences, including two life terms, followed an unfair trial initiated in retaliation for their peaceful political opposition and reflect the government’s pervasive manipulation of the justice system and egregious violations of the right to freedom of expression.
Nine human rights organizations have sent a joint open letter to Turkmenistan’s Prosecutor General regarding an appalling attack on Umida Jumabaeva, a justice-seeking mother. She was physically assaulted and had acid thrown at her by unknown perpetrators on 22 May 2016, leaving her with severe burns to her face and body. The context of the attack suggests that she may have been targeted in retribution for petitions she filed regarding her son, a military conscript. The signatories call for a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation into the attack, with due attention being given to this possible motive for the attack.
The Draft Electoral Code of the Republic of Armenia was adopted by the National Assembly of Armenia in its third reading on
25 May 2016. - This is very disappointing, taking into consideration all the domestic and international organisations which
have criticized the proposed amendments, said Lene Wetteland, senior adviser for Armenia in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
"In its current form it will significantly limit the effective monitoring of elections and referenda in Armenia, only 6 months after the referendum on constitutional amendments received substantial criticism and illustrated the need for such monitoring. We support the call for immediate amendments to the Draft Electoral Law published by Armenian organisations yesterday," Wetteland concluded.
On the occasion of the International Week of the Disappeared, the human rights campaign “Prove They Are Alive!” calls upon the government of Turkmenistan to shed light on the fate of dozens who have been imprisoned for more than a decade, and to immediately halt the practice of enforced disappearances. The government of Turkmenistan should inform the relatives of the disappeared of their fate and whereabouts and allow them access to their loved ones without further delay.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision in Azerbaijan to release Azerbaijan’s leading investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova. It’s indeed happy news to those who know Ismayilova and her important work as a courageous journalist and civil society leader tirelessly exposing corruption in Azerbaijan, including activities involving the members of the president Aliyev’s family. Her reporting had caused her arrest in December 2014.
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.
Upon invitation, NHC has made a submission to the European Commission Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations. The submission points out that the situation of civil and political rights in Turkey has deteriorated in 2015-2016. Some of the actions and statements of senior politicians – including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – led to an erosion of the rule of law. In particular, the media and the judiciary were under pressure by the executive power. The submission also points to challenges related to refugees, freedom of religion and belief and LGBTI. It raises concerns that the end of the Kurdish peace process will lead to further detoriation of respect for human rights.
Authorities in Kazakhstan must immediately release all peaceful activists arrested ahead of planned protests on May 21, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Adil Soz, International Legal Initiative and Association for Human Rights in Central Asia said in a statement today.
Stop Harassment, Ensure Fair Trial: The prosecution of an independent journalist on charges of “disseminating false information” will commence before a court in Almaty, capital of Kazakhstan, on May 5, 2016, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today. Authorities detained Guzyal Baidalinova, 47, a journalist and the owner of Nakanune.kz, an independent online news site, on December 23, 2015 as a suspect in the case, and have held her in pre-trial detention since her formal arrest three days later, despite multiple requests for bail.
Respect Independence of Legal Profession: Oslo, May 3, 2016: Tajik authorities should immediately and unconditionally release four human rights lawyers and two sons of another prominent lawyer who are imprisoned or detained on politically motivated charges, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today. Tajik authorities should stop harassing and targeting independent lawyers.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned about the situation at the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (‘ICTY’), created by acquittals in 2012-2013 and a deep split among its judges. The concerns have been conveyed in a letter to President of the International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals (‘MICT’), former ICTY President, current ICTY judge and a key player of the institution. According to the letter, the acquittals represent changes in the direction at a very late stage of the ICTY’s life. They “disorient victims, their families, and the wider struggle against impunity ... there remains a strong, unanswered case for [Theodor Meron] to take responsibility for the unfortunate situation at ICTY”.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the other undersigned members of the Sport for Rights coalition express serious concern regarding the on-going disciplinary case against Yalchin Imanov, a prominent human rights lawyer in Azerbaijan. Any disciplinary sanctions against the lawyer could severely undermine his independence as member of the legal profession and hinder his important and legitimate professional activity.
The Tajik government is arresting, imprisoning, and torturing members of the country’s peaceful political opposition, Human Rights Watch and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee said today. The government is also targeting perceived critics abroad, seeking their detention and extradition back to Tajikistan, and has forcibly disappeared critics abroad only to have them reappear in Tajik custody.
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.
Regjeringen har lagt frem en omfattende pakke med innstramningsforslag i utlendingslovgivningen. 40 større og mindre endringer av lov og forskrift, er presentert som tiltak for å møte flyktningkrisen. Helsingforskomitéen har i en høringsuttalelse kritisert forslagene for å svekke retten til å søke om asyl. Komiteen er også kritisk til en rekke enkeltforslag, blant annet om bare å gi enslige mindreårige asylsøkere «midlertidig beskyttelse», innføre meget strenge regler for familiegjenforening og å gjøre det enklere å henvise til «internflukt».
Helsingforskomitéen har sammen med andre organisasjoner i NGO-Forum for menneskerettigheter sendt brev til statsmininister Erna Solberg med kritikk av Regjeringens forslag om å kutte i støtten til menneskerettighetsarbeid i budsjettet for 2016.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee appealed to Missions to the UN to support resolution on human rights defenders, which comes up for vote in the UN General Assembly on the 17 December. The resolution contains a strong message to the world’s governments that they should support and protect human rights defenders; not attack them. The appeal was backed with signatures of people from across the world.
Den norske Helsingforskomité ber i et brev sammen med Oslosenteret for fred og menneskerettigheter og Stefanusalliansen Utenriksminister Børge Brende sørge for at ordningen med en spesialutsending for minoriteter blir opprettholdt.
10 December: We — members of the Civic Solidarity Platform and the Sports For Rights Campaign — were relieved to learn that one of Azerbaijan’s most well-known political prisoners, Leyla Yunus, was released from detention yesterday and that that the Baku City Court of Appeal changed her sentence and that of her husband Arif into suspended sentences of 5 years, on probation.
– The poor quality of the 6 December 2015 constitutional referendum was unprecedented in the country. There were blatant violations of the electoral code and verbal and physical attacks on observers and journalists, said Lene Wetteland, senior advisor of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee (NHC). "We are critical both of the campaign, the contents of the amendments as well as of the conduct of the vote itself."
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply disappointed to learn of the decision by Kyrgyzstan to declare Mihra Rittmann, researcher for Human Rights Watch in Central Asia, persona non grata in the country. Rittmann was deported from Kyrgyzstan upon her arrival to Manas International Airport in Bishkek on 2 December, after living and working for several years in the country.
As a member of the Prove They Are Alive! campaign, the NHC has joined a statement where we express our disappointment and regret at the failure of the government of Turkmenistan to provide a substantive reply to the United Nations Human Rights Committee on its decision on the case of Boris Shikhmuradov within the period established by the Committee.
Den norske Helsingforskomité, NOAS og en rekke andre organisasjoner sendte i går et brev til alle partier på Stortinget der det advares mot hastebehandling av innstrammingsforslag som innebærer en dramatisk svekkelse av asylsøkeres rettssikkerhet.
– One of the world’s longest imprisoned peaceful political activists, Murod Juraev, was finally released from a jail in Uzbekistan on November 12, 2015, after 21 unjustified years behind bars, nine human rights groups said today. The nine rights groups, including the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, now calls on UN to hold Tashkent accountable for arbitrary detention.
As a founding partner of the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), the Norwegian Helsinki Committee expresses its concern over international election observation missions delegitimizing the institution of election observation as well as damaging the reputation of those parliaments and international institutions that they represent.
Nasjonal institusjon for menneskerettigheter:
Den norske Helsingforskomité har i samarbeid med Amnesty International Norge skrevet et brev til Stortingets presidentskap der vi foreslår at det arrangeres en åpen høring i forbindelse med ansettelsen av en ny direktør ved nasjonal institusjon for menneskerettigheter.
NHC is active at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2015 which is currently taking place in Warsaw.
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 Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the harsh sentences against the Azerbaijani human rights defenders Leila and Arif Yunus. If the verdicts are not nullified immediately, then it is time to impose targeted sanctions against Azerbaijan´s main human rights perpetrators.
I et brev til Utenriksminister Børge Brende ber Helsingforskomiteen norske myndigheter gjøre rede for hva den har gjort for seks usbekiske asylsøkere, som etter endelig avslag på sin asylsøknad ble returnert til hjemlandet. Det ble senere kjent at alle seks var blitt dømt til lange fengselsstraffer og høyst sannsynlig torturert. UNE har senere stanset tvangsreturer til Usbekistan.
The office of the Joint Mobile Group in Grozny, Chechnya, was earlier today on 3 June attacked by a group of masked men.
Last night, on 23 June, the Summer 2015 session of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) adopted the new monitoring report on Azerbaijan, The functioning of democratic institutions in Azerbaijan, Resolution 2062 (2015). From a relatively weak draft presented by the co-rapporteurs from Spain and Poland, the report was significantly improved by the adoption of several important amendments during the session. Most significantly, the report now includes a demand for the release of political prisoners in Azerbaijan, mentioning several of them by name.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the verdict against the renowned independent election observer Anar Mammadli, who in a Baku court yesterday was sentenced to five and-a-half years in prison for tax evasion, illegal business activities, and using their office to falsify election results.
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.
Den norske Helsingforskomité gjennomførte 29. april sitt årsmøte med våre styre- og rådsmedlemmer på Litteraturhuset i Oslo. Møtet ble ledet av rådspresident i Den norske Helsingforskomité Kristin Clemet. Generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland la fram året 2014s svært omfattende aktiviteter. Årsmøtet ber i en uttalelse den norske regjeringen om å gi reell støtte til det stadig økende antallet politiske fanger i OSSE-området.
Young, prominent and dedicated human rights defender Rasul Jafarov, was convicted to six and a half years in prison in a Baku, Azerbaijan court today. -It is hardly news anymore that human rights defenders are handed long prison sentences in Azerbaijan, where punishing the dissent on bogus charges has become commonplace for the government in past years, Secretary General Bjørn Engesland says.
Statement at the UN Human Rights Council:
Limiting the number of recommendations in the Universal Periodic Review can be detrimental to the whole process. Instead states should focus on making concrete, specific and measurable recommendations.
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.
The ceasefire agreement, which entered into force as of Sunday 15 February, is good news for the civilian population in the Donbass region”, said Bjørn Engesland, Secretary General. – However, it is already marred by violations and important questions remain unresolved. There are also serious flaws with the agreement. – The loser after nearly a year of hostilities is the civilian population in Eastern Ukraine who have seen their houses, economy, infrastructure and key public institutions shot to pieces. The human rights situation was far from perfect before the armed conflict, but there is no doubt that it has become much worse in the rebel-controlled areas.
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.
Angrepet 7. januar 2015 mot redaksjonen til det satiriske magasinet Charlie Hebdo, som resulterte i 12 drepte og like mange sårede, reiser på nytt debatter om effektiv beskyttelse mot terrorhandlinger og hvordan vi kan verne ytringsfriheten når kontroversielle ytringer blir møtt med vold og drap. – Angrepet på de ansatte i Charlie Hebdo var et angrep på ytringsfriheten. Det var karikaturtegninger, satire og religions- og samfunnskritikk som var magasinets varemerke. Alt tyder på at angrepet var en hevn for karikaturer med satirisk brodd mot islam, sier Bjørn Engesland, generalsekretær i Den norske Helsingforskomité.
Civic Solidarity Platform:
The Basel declaration contains recommendations from the members of the Civic Solidarity Platform, in which the NHC is a member, to the participants of the OSCE ministerial council meeting held in Basel, 4-5 December 2014.
Repression in Azerbaijan must stop:
On Friday 5 December, another prominent civil society figure was arrested in Azerbaijan as a Baku court authorized investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova's pre-trial detention for two months on bogus charges of "inciting suicide". This shows that there is no end to the assault on independent voices by the government of this oil rich country and provides further proof of its disregard for founding values of the Council of Europe and its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the Civil Solidarity Platform calls for the supsension of Azerbaijan for the Council of Europe in a statement Saturday 6 December.
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.
Human rights education:
In this article, Enver Djuliman, Head of Department for Education in Human Rights in the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, explores the role of Universities in the peace building processes in the Western Balkan countries. Based on the experiences from the Norwegian Helsinki Committee`s project Lets Build Bridges, not Walls – Roles of Universities in Peace Building in Serbia, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, Djuliman introduces the present situation regarding Higher Education in these countries and describe efforts to inspire the universities to re-define their role in peace building. Finally, a future outlook will be presented.
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.
In a letter to the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee argues that a recent decision by the European Court of Human Rights points to the importance of bringing the program, lesson books and activities associated with the mandatory Religious Culture and Knowledge of Ethics (Din Kültürü Ahlak Bilgisi- DKAB) courses in line with international human rights requirements, and that these are key issues for Turkey’s democratization and social harmony. Read the letter in full below.
Civil society organisation OPORA and Committee of Voters of Ukraine have concluded that the early parliamentary elections in Ukraine did not violate international standards and Ukrainian law in any serious way. Although a large number of violations were registered both during the election campaign and on election day, they did not influence the result of the elections.
In Ukraine, the early elections to Verkhavna Rada (Parliament) is underway, and by 15.00 o'clock no serious incidents have been reported. In occupied Crimea and in large parts of Eastern Luhansk and Donetsk, it is not possible to organise elections, and some 4.5 million out of a total of 35 million voters are unable to cast their ballot today. Norwegian Helsinki Committee is in Kyiv to observe the elections.
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.
On occasion of the UN International Day of the Disappeared, which is on August 30, 2014, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee together with the Prove They Are Alive! campaign launch a video clip and press release to put the spotlight on the issue of enforced disappearances in Turkmenistan.
The brutal attack on the journalist Ilgar Nasibov, in Nakhchivan, Azerbaijan, is an outrage, and Azerbaijan’s authorities should ensure a prompt, effective and impartial investigation, Front Line Defenders, Human Rights House Foundation, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Rafto Foundation for Human Rights, People in Need, Human Rights Watch, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, International Media Support, ARTICLE 19 and Reporters without borders said today.
Azerbaijan's independent civil society has for a long time been engaged in a major effort to go through the lists of possible political prisoners in the country, to identify those that meet the criteria adopted by the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly. The list, containing as many as 98 names, was compiled under the leadership of Leyla Yunus and Rasul Jafarov. Both Leylas and Rasuls own names have been added to the list the last few weeks.
Update 12 August: The lawyer Intigam Aliyev was arrested Friday 8 August, and was the fourth human rights activist who in a short time have been detained in Azerbaijan. This means that in the two last weeks, four of the most prominent human rights defenders in Azerbaijan have been sent to prison, all under investigation for serious crimes and risking many years behind bars if convicted. The four have all been outspoken critics of the regime of President Ilham Aliyev, and by the move Azerbaijan once again shows a blatant contempt towards the European Convention on Human Rights. Despite this, Azerbaijan currently holds the Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Council of Ministers.
2. juli 2014. Amnesty Norge har med støtte fra Den norske Helsingforskomité og en rekke andre organisasjoner i Norge sendt et brev til statssekretær Bård Glad Pedersen der vi ber om at også de økonomiske, sosiale og kulturelle rettighetene vektlegges gjennom Stortingsmeldingen om menneskerettigheter i utenrikspolitikken.
Together with the other members and partners of the Human Rights House Network, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has sent
a letter to the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko, where we urge the Ukrainian authorities to refer situation on the internationally
recognised territory of Ukraine to the International Criminal Court (ICC) until the state becomes a member of the ICC by acceding
to the Rome Statute.
In the letter we also call upon the Ukrainian government to support the work of human rights NGOs, journalists, bloggers and other media, and aknowledge the important and legitimate role of human rights defenders in the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law as an essential component of ensuring their protection. In this important periode for the country, we also urge the Ukrainan government to ensure that the reform process in the country, as well as all dialogue about the future of the country, is inclusive and transparent, giving space to civil society.
Read the letter below.
European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE), a network of NGOs observing elections in Europe, has been united to observe the crucial Presidential elections in Ukraine that took place 25 may. 200 trained civil society observers monitored the elections in 10 regions of Ukraine in cooperation with local observers from Opora and Committee of Voters Ukraine. Norwegian Helsinki Committee, a co-founder of EPDE, joined the mission and assisted in the coordination of the effort. Today, the mission statement was published at a press conference in Kiev.
In our report to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee recommends that the government of Kyrgyzstan investigates and brings to justice perpetrators of violence against civilians among government forces during the June 2010 events in the south of the country, and in the period following the violence. The Human Rights Council will review the situation for human rights in Kyrgyzstan at their 21st session set to January 2015. Read NHC report in full below.
Det norske Stortinget vedtok 13. mai 2014 et eget kapittel om menneskerettigheter i Norges grunnlov. – Dette er et langt skritt i riktig retning, sier Bjørn Engesland, generalsekretær. Vi setter særlig pris på at kapitlet starter med å forplikte statens myndigheter til å «respektere og sikre menneskerettighetene slik de er nedfelt i denne grunnlov og i for Norge bindende traktater om menneskerettigheter» (§ 92). Styrkingen av barnets rettigheter er også meget positivt (§ 104).
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.
Norwegian Helsinki Committee condemns the detention of prominent Azerbaijani human rights defender Leyla Yunus and raises the alarm she may be facing arrest and criminal charges. Late last night we learned that Leyla Yunus and her husband, historian Arif Yunus were detained at the airport as they were leaving for a conference abroad. They were refused exit from the country, their luggage and home were searched. Leyla Yunus has been interrogated through the night at the general prosecutors’ office in Baku; Arif has been taken to a hospital for medical treatment.
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.
Utenriksdepartementet har igangsatt et arbeid med en Stortingsmelding om norsk menneskerettighetspolitikk og invitert til innspill og forslag fra sivilsamfunnet. Den norske Helsingforskomité setter pris på at en slik melding skal lages og har nå gitt våre innspill til Utenriksdepartementet.
Policy Paper 3/2014:
The NHC presents our third policy paper of 2014. The policy paper discusses religious minorities' rights in Turkey, and urges the Turkish government to recognize the Alevi cem houses as places of worship. The Alevi are Turkey's largest religious minority, and the cemevi are their houses of worship.
On 9 April, the Parliament of Kazakhstan has the second hearing on a reform package of four laws related to criminal proceedings in Kazakhstan. – The reform is long awaited since there are several problematic issues with the current legislation, but unfortunately the suggested amendments, if implemented, will result in a more restrictive legislation package rather than an improvement, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee and the International Legal Initiative in Kazakhstan warn.
Søndag 16. mars skal befolkningen på Krim i Ukraina avholde folkeavstemning om sin fremtidige status. – En overveldende rekke fakta tilsier at folkeavstemningen på Krim ikke er legitim, både av formelle, juridiske årsaker, men også når vi legger den faktiske situasjonen på Krim til grunn, sier Bjørn Engesland, generalsekretær i Den norske Helsingforskomité.
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.
President Viktor Janukovitsj sitter med nøkkelen og ansvaret for å få slutt på volden og å få til en politisk prosess, sier generalsekretær Bjørn Engesland om den svært dramatiske situasjonen. I tillegg til den omfattende volden i Kiev, har protester og uro også spredt seg til en rekke andre byer.
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
Open letter to Czech President:
Together with 27 other human rights organisations, the NHC sent a letter to the Czech President Miloš Zeman, criticizing his decision to invite the President of Uzbekistan Islam Karimov to an official state visit to Prague on 20-22 February. Islam Karimov is the leader of one of the most repressive governments in the world, and should not be rewarded with the prestige and recognition associated with an official state visit. Though the Czech President initially responded to the letter by calling the human rights groups uninformed and hypocritical, on 13 February it was known that Karimov had decided to "postpone" his visit, a decision welcomed by international human rights activists and victims of human rights abuse in Uzbekistan. Read the letter below.
- Demonstrasjonene i Ukraina er oppstått fordi ukrainere er inderlig lei av korrupsjon, maktmisbruk og brudd på menneskerettighetene. Landet har behov for store reformer, til dette trengs stor støtte til ukrainsk sivilsamfunn. Den norske Helsingforskomité samarbeider med lokale, ukrainske organisasjoner for å skape en ny framtid i Ukraina.
The Government of Ukraine chose to meet demands for democracy with hastily adopted laws effectively taking away from people fundamental rights and freedoms. The last few days have been dominated by serious violence with clashes between police and protesters in Kiev, the city famous for its peaceful protests. This morning, we got the sad news that two demonstrators have been killed, we fear more as tension is on the rise. – European leaders should engage in what happens in Kiev and intensify efforts to support the protesters’ demand for human rights, Secretary General Bjørn Engesland says. President Yanukovich clearly has demonstrated that Ukraine’s hard earned freedom and democratic development is of no importance to him. To avoid further bloodshed it is time to consider which sanctions could be efficient to force President Yanukovich and the Government of Ukraine to turn back, repeal undemocratic laws and to make sincere efforts to bring parties together for talks.
On 16 December 2013 Anar Mammadli, chairman of the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre, Baku (EMDS) and board member of the network European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) was arrested and given a three months pre-trial detention at the Nasimin District Court in Baku.
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.
Civic Solidarity Platform:
Ivar Dale, NHC Central Asia representative, has participated at the OSCE Parallel Civil Society conference in Kiev in connection with the now ongoing OSCE Ministerial Council. During the meeting, the Civic Solidarity Platform developed a policy document containing civil society analysis and recommendations on alarming human dimension issues across the OSCE region and on human dimensions issues in Ukraine, in light of the country’s OSCE Chairmanship. It also includes recommendations for increasing the efficiency of the OSCE human dimension process. -The Platform provides an excellent opportunity for non-governmental organizations to meet and develop common strategies to fight the serious human rights violations that unfortunately remain all over the OSCE region. The Outcome Document should be studied closely by government representatives who wish to contribute to democratic development, Ivar Dale comments.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee follows with great concern the dramatic developments in the streets of Kiev where at least 350 000 protesters gathered this weekend demanding the resignation of President Yanukovich.
Nei da. Vi er ikke utenlandske agenter på ordentlig. Men vi kaller oss det i dag 21. november, for å gjøre deg oppmerksom på at sivilsamfunnet i Russland er i alvorlig fare.
After a run-up marked by flagrant violations of political pluralism and freedom of information, President Ilham Aliyev’s reelection by an overwhelming majority on 10 October 2013, in a poll that the OSCE considered “seriously flawed”, has been followed by new crackdown on the media. The daily newspaper Azadliq, one of the few remaining opposition news outlets, is now in danger of succumbing to efforts to throttle it financially. NHC joins other human rights defenders in voicing concern at the situation.
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.
Letter to PM David Cameron:
Together with a coalition of 70 free speech, media freedom and human rights organisations worldwide, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has sent a letter to Prime Minister David Cameron of the United Kingdom, where we express our concerns that the way the United Kingdom government’s response to the revelations of mass surveillance of digital communications is eroding fundamental human rights in the country. The government’s response has been to condemn, rather than celebrate investigative journalism, which plays a crucial role in a healthy democratic society. Rather than using national security as an argument to hinder journalists in their work, the Governemnet should honour the UK’s international obligations to defend and protect the right to freedom of expression and media freedom, and to end the UK government’s pressure on the Guardian and those who assist them. The letter was initiated by Article 19, United Kingdom. Read the letter below.
The European Platform for Democratic Elections protests against the intimidation of its member organization, the Election Monitoring and Democracy Studies Centre (EMDS) in Baku. We are worried that the investigations led by the Prosecutor general’s office, have political motives, a reaction to the critical statements made by EMDS after the recent Presidential elections in Azerbaijan. - As a member of the European Platform for Democratic Elections, we join the protests and we are very worried to see that another efficient election monitoring NGO is targeted by the authorities, says Secretary General Bjørn Engesland. Last April, Russian partner Golos was convicted for failing to comply with NGO-legislation and failing to register as 'foreign agents'.
In a surprising statement after last week's elections in Azerbaijan, delegations from the European Parliament and the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly concluded that they had observed "free, fair and transparent electoral process". They did this despite the widespread and reliable reports of fraud, pressure against voters and other manipulations. - We find it quite astonishing that European parliamentary delegation members, who should defend the voters' right to democratic elections, instead choose to look away from the facts of the presidential elections in Azerbaijan, secretary general Bjørn Engesland says. Together with the European Platform for Democratic Elections (EPDE) we have made a statement criticizing the delegations.
In a joint call issued today on the eve of the Presidential election, 22 human right organisations and press freedom campaigners warn that the failure of the government of Azerbaijan to respect human rights, including freedom of expression, undermines the democratic legitimacy of the government. - Azerbaijan should take immediate action to ensure fundamental rights are protected ahead of the election, including by releasing journalists, political activists and human rights defenders, to ensure the election is free and fair, NHCs Secretary General Bjørn Engesland says.
In July 2012, Tajikistani authorities used disproportional force in a special operation in the mountainous Pamir region of Tajikistan, bordering Afghanistan. Officially, the authorities were aiming to arrest criminals linked to militant forces in Afghanistan. Effectively, communications lines were cut off for a long period of time, a large number of civilians suffered in terms of property damage and injuries, and more than 22 people died. One year later, the authorities have failed to provide adequate information on the details around what happened and which legal acts are being taken to punish those involved.
From 26 September to 3 October 2013 the Norwegian Helsinki Committee will participate at this years' OSCE Human Dimensions Implementation Meeting (HDIM) in Warsaw. HDIM is an arena where civil society representatives can present views and directly challenge state represenatives. For many of the participants from non-democratic countries this is a rare opportunity. NHC is, as always, very active during the conference.
Members of the Civic Solidarity Platform are deeply concerned about the safety of journalist Sergey Naumov, who was arrested by police in his home town Urgench in Khorazm Province, Uzbekistan on Saturday night, 21 September 2013 and later sentenced to 12 days imprisonment for "hooliganism".
UN Human Rights Council:
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee and other Civic Solidarity Platform members urge in a letter to Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Espen Barth Eide, Norway to use its influence at the UN Human Rights Council to oppose the “traditional values” agenda. This agenda attempts to undermine the universality of fundamental human rights, and is part of a global trend to qualify human rights protections and restrict the civic space for the expression of dissent.
34 observatører fra 11 land i det tidligere Sovjetunionen har gjennomført valgobservasjon av årets Stortingsvalg. Valgobservatørene har blitt tatt svært godt i mot over hele landet, og har observert et valg der velgerne har stor grad av tillit til valgprosessen. Valget har vært gjennomført på en svært profesjonell måte. Allikevel, det er forbedringspotensial også her.
In a letter to the President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyevin and the Prosecutor General Zakir, Norwegian Helsinki Committee, along with several Human Rights NGOs, express a profound concern regarding the continued harassment and intimidation of investigative journalist Khadija Ismayilova and the resulting interference in her work. - We urge the President of Azerbaijan to take immediate steps to ensure a prompt, thorough, effective and transparent investigation into the threats made against the journalist Khadija Ismayilova, as well as ensuring the effectiveness of the current investigation into the violation of Ismayilovas right to privacy, Secretary general Bjørn Engesland says.
– 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.
Council of Europe:
In a letter to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (Pace) The Norwegian Helsinki Committee, together with 23 other international human rights organisations, strongly urges PACE to condemn so-called “homosexual propaganda” bans as incompatible with the rights to freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and the prohibition of discrimination. The Assembly should vote in favour of today’s resolution and recommendation on tackling discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. Read the letter below
The Turkish government should respect freedoms and establish independent investigation into police violence against demonstrators. The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned about recent reports of police abuse against largely peaceful demonstrators in Istanbul, Ankara and many other Turkish cities.
Den norske Helsingforskomité har sluttet seg til en markering på Youngstorget på onsdag 19. juni kl. 18.00. Markeringen arrangeres
av LIM - nettverket, norsk - tyrkiske fredsaktivister og Norges Fredsråd med støtte fra en rekke andre organisasjoner.
Budskapet er: Respekter ytringsfriheten, ta vare på miljøet og stopp politivolden mot demonstrantene. Nefise Özkal Lorentzen fra LIM og John Peder Egenæs fra Amnesty International Norge er blant appellantene. Sufimusikk og fotoutstilling med bilder fra demonstrasjonene i Tyrkia står også på programmet.
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.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is present in Kiev during the Kiev Pride 2013. Ahead of the Pride March, Queer Youth Norway and LLH - Norwegian LGBT Association jointly with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee sent a letter to the Ukrainian Embassador to Norway, Yurii Onischenko, expressing concern over the reports that the Pride might be banned by the Kiev City Administration. Read the letter below.
-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.
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.
The journalist Elena Bondar has been granted refugee status from the UNHCR. Bondar had been working as a reporter for Ferghana News Agency, the leading news site covering Central Asia, often writing under a pseudonym. Uzbek authorities opened criminal investigations against her, and she was forced to leave the country. Originally, the UNHCR rejected her application for asylum, but the decision was overturned after Bondar lodged an appeal.
Endemic corruption, arbitrariness and denial of justice are key words that illustrate the justice system of Turkmenistan today. Few citizens dare to address the system for help, knowing that virtually any case is decided through money and good connections. Now, three brave persons that independently of each other have been through the system and back with their complaints to no avail, hope that international resonance to their case can create a positive precedence for others.
With today's opening of the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Stockholm and Helsinki, the Don’t Play with the Dictator! campaign has written a letter to the President of the International Ice Hockey Federation René Fasel, where we urge him and the representatives of the national IIHF member organisations to support the victims of human rights violations by removing the 2014 IIHF World Championship from Belarus at the next meeting of the IIHF General Congress in Stockholm in May 2013. The NHC is a member of the Don't Play with the Dictator! campaign. Read the letter below.
Azerbaijan at the UPR:
In a statement published 29 April, NHC and the International Partnership Group on Azerbaijan urges the member states of the United Nations to hold Azerbaijan accountable during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 30 April 2013 for its failure to protect basic human rights. The International Partnership Group on Azerbaijan, in which NHC is a partner, urge the UN to take Azerbaijan to task for failing to implement the commitments it made after its first review in 2009. Read the full statement below.
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.
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.
In a letter sent yesterday to the Turkish Minister of Interior Muammar Güler, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee expresses our
concern about the death treats against the Turkish lawyer Erdal Doğan, who is a legal counsel for the victims in the Zirve/Malatya
trial concerning the killing of three Christians on 18 April 2007 in Malatya, South Eastern Turkey. The letter is a part of
NHC's new initiative in Turkey, the Freedom of Belief Initiative, a human rights project founded to improve the protection
of the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief in Turkey. The project is headed by our co-ordinator in
Istanbul, Mine Yildirim. A letter has also been sent to Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya, UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of
Human Rights Defenders and Nils Muižnieks,
Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was relieved to learn of the decision by Ukrainian authorities to respect international human rights obligations and to reject an extradition request for the former Prime Minister of Tajikistan to his home country.
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.
Universal Periodic Review Armenia:
Together with the Civil Society Institute (CSI) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) the Norwegian Helsinki Committee have submitted a mid-term assessment (May 2010–December 2012) following recommendations by the United Nations Human Rights Council at Armenia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in May 2010.
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.
Myanmar President Thein Sein visits Oslo:
In a letter to President Thein Sein the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, Amnesty International Norway, the Norwegian Burma Committee and several other human rights organizations call on the President to give attention to the human rights violations that are still going on in Myanmar (Burma).
In a statement today, the Norwegian Helsinki Committee has joined two large civil society networks, the Civic Solidarity Platform
and the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan together with local organizations condemning the latest campaign against
freedom of expression and association in Azerbaijan. – We are extremely concerned about the situation, it just seems that
there is no end to the steps the authorities are willing to take to retain power firmly in hand, Secretary general Bjørn Engesland
Since the start of the year, Azerbaijani authorities have broken up rallies arresting peaceful protesters and opposition leaders. Journalists, writers and bloggers have been harassed and 75 year-old acclaimed author Akram Aylisli has been subjected to severe threats even from the members of the national parliament. Proposals for restrictive legislation, running counter to international standards for freedom of association and expression, has been fielded. – Bearing in mind that presidential elections in Azerbaijan is just months away, the development is not acceptable and will undermine any hopes of democratic progress in the country, Engesland continues.
Voting at the 2013 Presidential elections in Armenia is underway, following a month of low key campaigning. The ruling Republican party’s candidate and incumbent president Serge Sargsyan is expected to win the majority of the votes in an election where the three largest opposition parties in the Parliament did not advance or support any candidate. NHC's Lene Wetteland is observing the elections in Vanadzor.
In a statement the Civic Solidarity Platform and the International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan (IPGA) condemn the harsh response by the Azerbaijani authorities to recent protests in the country. They call on the Council of Europe to ensure that Azerbaijan respects its human rights obligations as a member state and stop punishing critical voices, including human rights defenders and journalists. NHC is a member of bothe the Civil Solidarity Platform and IPGA and we support the statement.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee was distressed to learn of serious, anonymous threats made against the Central Asia Program Director of Human Rights Center Memorial, Vitaliy Ponomarev, on 12 January 2012 and urges Russian and Uzbekistani authorities to open an investigation.
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 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.
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.
Parliamentary Assembly votes on Azerbaijan:
The International Partnership Group, coordinated by ARTICLE 19, along with Amnesty International, Norwegian Helsinki Committee and several Azerbaijani and international NGOs urges the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to make a strong call for Azerbaijan to improve its deteriorating human rights record. On Wednesday 23 January, the vote on two crucial resolutions on Azerbaijan will be an opportunity for the Assembly to show its genuine commitment to its human rights principles.
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.
The Norwegian Helsinki Committee is deeply concerned over the continued reports of travel bans imposed on several groups of citizens of Turkmenistan, prohibiting them from leaving their home country.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In Kyrgyzstan, the previous Prime Minister Almazbek Atambayev has received approximately 63% of the votes in Presidential Elections that were found mostly free and fair by the observers. Violations in the electoral process were mainly related to the voter’s lists, where a significant number of the voters could not find their name and thus could not vote.