The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) has today published a set of sixteen interventions to the Human Dimension Implementation Meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which will be held from 19 to 30 September 2005 in Warsaw. (15-SEP-05)
This meeting is the main regular OSCE conference to deal with human rights issues, and is held each year. “Thirty years after the Helsinki process began, the situation remains very grave for many citizens in the region whose human rights are still not honoured,” said Aaron Rhodes, the executive director of the IHF. The IHF and affiliates will take up a number of immediate human rights issues in the OSCE region, including:
-Serious violations of the international standards for democratic elections in Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Macedonia and Belarus. The IHF also points to encouraging developments in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, noting, however, that further improvements are necessary to secure fair and free elections in these countries.
-The unresolved issue of the right to permanent residence of non-Slovene former Yugoslav citizens in Slovenia, and the problem of children without citizenship in Latvia.
-The slow return of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Macedonia and Croatia due to a variety of problems, including lack of security; and state responsibilities under UN guidelines to IDPs uprooted from their homes not by war but a natural disaster in the Gulf Region of the United States.
-Government attempts to restrict the operation of independent media, and in some cases to silence them entirely. For example, in Turkey, dozens of writers and journalists still face criminal charges for writing on topics regarded as off-limit. In the Russian Federation, ?spy-mania? continues, leaving researchers incarcerated for treason charges following unfair trials. In Andijan, Uzbekistan, a climate of pervasive surveillance reigns in the region and people who still dare to speak out about the 13 May massacre, risk arrest, torture and persecution.
-Inadequate, sometimes inhuman and degrading conditions and/or treatment of individuals in closed institutions (prisons, detention facilities, psychiatric institutions, juvenile correctional centers) in e.g. Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, the Czech Republic and the Russian Federation, as well as the systematic and widespread use of torture in Uzbekistan.
-A total lack of rule of law in Turkmenistan and interference of government officials or local authorities in the administration of justice in – inter alia – Moldova, Macedonia, the Russian Federation, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan. Corruption and lack of funding are central problems regarding the judiciary in many former socialist countries: in Ukraine, for example, some courts have already closed down due to lack of resources.
-The dangerous practice of Western governments (e.g. the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Netherlands) to rely on ?diplomatic assurances? when sending terrorist suspects to countries of their origin, where they may face torture, thereby ignoring the universal prohibition on torture.
-The continued use of the death penalty in Belarus and Uzbekistan, frequently after unfair trials and ?confessions? under torture, and in the United States, sometimes following racially biased or otherwise inadequate judicial proceedings.
-The on-going violations of international humanitarian law in the Chechen Republic, including disappearances, hostage taking, and torture, continued impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators, as well as the spilling over of the conflict to the surrounding regions.
-Restrictions of the rights of minorities to use their language, promote their culture and violations of other rights. These include the policy of Turkmenistan to promote a homogenous Turkmen identity; forced eviction and demolition of Roma houses in Greece; continued restrictions on the use of Kurdish and other minority languages in Turkey; and the precarious situation of Roma in Kosovo.
-Lack of tolerance toward religious minority communities, direct bans on the free practice of religion (often under the pretext of security concerns), and inadequate interference by majority churches in the activities of minority communities and daily politics (e.g. in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Serbia and Macedonia).
-Intolerance against Muslims in Europe following September 11 and the June 2005 attacks in London.
-The continued negligence of the realization of the rights of sexual minorities in Southeastern Europe, including lack of adequate legislation and practices to promote their rights and to protect them against violence.
For more information:
Aaron Rhodes, IHF Executive Director, phone: +43-1-408 88 22 or +43- 676 -635 66 12
Henriette Schroeder (Press Officer), +43-676-725 48 29, firstname.lastname@example.org