Posts Tagged ‘Central Asia’

JOINT NGO RECOMMENDATIONS ON ENSURING PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN CENTRAL ASIA

May 21, 2014


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From 20-21 May 2014 there was in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, a Regional Workshop on Implementing the Human Dimension Commitments and Enhancing the role of Civil Society. An important contribution was the joint statement by six NGOs containing recommendations to protect human rights defenders in Central Asia.  The text in its totality follows below:  Read the rest of this entry »

Russian human rights defenders update: Tatiana Kotlyar and Elena Ryabinina

May 12, 2014

On 30 April 2014, an investigative officer in Russia ordered the psychiatric assessment of human rights defender Ms Tatiana Kotlyar in relation to an ongoing criminal investigation into the allegations that she falsely allowed dozens of migrants to illegally register her own apartment as their place of residence. [Tatiana Kotlyar is the deputy of Obninsk city council and is the chair of the Kaluga movement “For Human Rights”, which specialises in the protection of minority rights, including the rights of Roma and migrants. Since 2011, Tatiana Kotlyar has been allowing dozens of migrants to register her apartment as their place of residence for free. The Investigative Officer Zimin ordered the psychiatric examination, even though Tatiana Kotlyar has no history of psychiatric difficulties and has never received psychiatric treatment. Front Line believes that the decision may be linked to the fact that the human rights defender did not require payment for providing residence registration for more than a hundred people.]  For actions see: http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/25865/action

In the meantime Front Line Defenders informs us of the death of Elena Ryabinina, a much admired Russian human rights defender, on 4 May 2014 in Moscow, aged 59. Since 2002, Ryabinina had been fighting for the rights of refugees seeking asylum from Central Asian countries. She was renowned for the compassion, enthusiasm, and optimism with which she worked to achieve better rights for refugees and asylum seekers. She must have saved dozens of Uzbeks and Tajiks who sought asylum. Although she did not have formal legal training, Ryabinina developed an impressive knowledge of asylum laws, and consulted and defended people seeking political and religious asylum. She worked with the Civic Assistance Committee and the Memorial Human Rights Center and headed the Right to Asylum program at the Institute for Human Rights.


12 human rights defenders who are not on the slopes of Sochi

February 9, 2014

FLD launches Olympics campaign on 12 human rights defenders

Front Line Defenders launched an online and social media campaign to focus attention on the plight of 12 human rights defenders (HRDs) from Eastern Europe and Central Asia coinciding with the launch of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The ‘Rights. Risks. Change!’ campaign (www.sportshrd.org) calls on the public to take solidarity action to support these 12 defenders and to pressure local officials to respect the work of HRDs.

All 12 of the HRDs highlighted in the campaign have displayed great courage and integrity in their work on a range of human rights issues. Read the rest of this entry »

The EU and freedom of expression as seen by Index on Censorship

January 16, 2014

Index on Censorship is basing a series of articles on its larger report by Mike Harris, Time to Step Up: The EU and freedom of expression.

On 14 January 2014 came the one the ‘southern neighbourhood’ arguing that the credibility of the EU’s swing in focus from economic development towards human rights (after the outbreak of the Arab spring) is low.

The EU’s  communication “A partnership for democracy and shared prosperity with the southern Mediterranean“ (published on 8 May 2011) addresses the EU’s commitment to financially support transition to democracy and civil society and heralds the creation of the Civil Society Facility for the neighbourhood (covering both the southern and eastern neighbourhoods), while the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) deployed a number of operations in the region to protect and promote freedom of expression, often without the consent of the host country. Still, the article argues, european countries are often still seen as former allies of repressive regimes.

http://www.indexoncensorship.org/2014/01/eu-freedom-expression-southern-neighbourhood/

The one of 15 January, entitled ‘The EU and free expression: Human rights dialogues’, looks at the situation that the EU runs 30 human rights dialogues across the globe, with the key dialogues taking place in China, Kazakhstan,  Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Georgia and Belarus. It also has a dialogues with the African Union. The article is more detailed on China 

The article concludes: “With criticism of the effectiveness and openness of the dialogues, the EU should look again at how the dialogues fit into the overall strategy of the Union and its member states in the promotion of human rights with third countries and assess whether the dialogues can be improved.

The EU and free expression: Human rights dialogues – Index on Censorship | Index on Censorship.

 

Vacancy at Civil Rights Defenders: Programme Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia

December 19, 2013

Stockholm-based Civil Rights Defenders is looking for a replacement to the organisation’s Programme Director for 
the Eastern Europe and Central Asia department. This is a full-time position starting from 24 March 2014, lasting at least until 10 February 2015 though it might be prolonged. Deadline for applications is 20 January 2014.

The Programme Director is stationed in Stockholm, though frequently travelling and meeting with human rights defenders in the region, and representing Civil Rights Defenders in public. The tasks of the Programme Director include fundraising. Qualifications: MA in Law, Political Science, International Relations or related fields/areas, including training in international human rights mechanisms; Minimum of 5 years of working experience with human rights; At least 2 years of management experience; Working experience from Eastern Europe, Central Asia or the South Caucasus, preferably in human rights, and extensive knowledge about the human rights situation in the region; Fluency in at least two of the following languages: English, Swedish, and Russian.

Application to kim.matthis[at]civilrightsdefenders.org

via Civil Rights Defenders – Temporary Programme Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

“Fabricated” charges like trafficking and sexual harassment used to silence Uzbek Human Rights Defenders

September 26, 2013

In what could possibly put trafficking campaigners and human rights organisations on a collision course, the Uzbekistan authorities have recourse to trafficking and sexual harassment charges to put human rights defenders behind bars. Read the rest of this entry »

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan: non-cooperation should not pay!

April 22, 2013

Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan’s highly repressive policies are coming up for rare international scrutiny as from today (22 and 24 April 2013), Human Rights Watch said today. United Nations member countries gathering at the Human Rights Council in Geneva under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) procedure should seize the opportunity to expose and denounce the ongoing repression in both countries and press for concrete steps to end abuses.HRW_logo

The governments of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan stand out as among the most repressive in the world, Human Rights Watch said. Both also stand out for their failure to heed recommendations made during their previous Human Rights Council reviews, in December 2008. “The extraordinarily high levels of repression in both Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, coupled with their governments’ refusal to acknowledge problems, let alone to address them, underscores the need for a strong, unified message,” said Veronika Szente Goldston, Europe and Central Asia advocacy director at Human Rights Watch.

In submissions on Turkmenistan and on Uzbekistan Human Rights Watch highlighted key concerns with respect to both countries, and the steps needed to address them. One immediate step – and crucial if crime should not pay ! – is that both governments should be urged to end their longstanding denial of access for the UN’s own rights monitors. Ten UN rapporteurs have requested such access to Turkmenistan, while the number of UN rapporteurs barred from Uzbekistan has reached 11!  Cooperation with the International Committee of the Red Cross ICRC is another pressing issue [On April 12, the ICRC took the unusual step of announcing publicly its decision to end prison visits to detainees in Uzbekistan].

Other key concerns in Turkmenistan include: The government’s longstanding use of imprisonment as a tool for political retaliation and draconian restrictions on freedom of expression and association, which authorities enforce by threatening, harassing, or imprisoning those who dare to question its policies, however modestly. The severe repression of civil society activism makes it impossible for independent human rights defenders and journalists to work openly.

via Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan: Abuses in International Spotlight | Human Rights Watch.

 

Turkmenistan: two surviving Human Rights Defenders finally released but others linger in jail

February 18, 2013

On 17 February 2013 Human Rights Watch announced that two human rights defenders were released in Turkmenistan after serving their sentence: Sapardurdy Khajiev and Annakurban Amanklychev  (© Turkmen Helsinki foundation)
The Turkmen authorities have long used the judicial system and long-term imprisonment to suppress civic activism and settle political scores. So while we celebrate Amanklychev and Khajiev’s long overdue freedom, the pressing question remains, how many others still languish behind bars on wrongful charges? said Rachel Denber of HRW. Read the rest of this entry »

Russian HRD Vitaly Ponomarev of Memorial Receives Death threats

January 21, 2013

On 12 January 2013, human rights defender Mr Vitaly Ponomarev received several anonymous death threats through electronic mail. Vitaly Ponomarev is the head of the Central Asia programme of Human Rights Centre (HRC) Memorial, which was founded in 1999 and has a major focus on documenting human rights violations in Central Asian states, particularly Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan, in close cooperation with local human right defenders.

The messages received on 12 January, in Russian and Uzbek languages and originating from an IP address in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, threatened Vitaly Ponomarev with death if he moved to the south of Kyrgyzstan, and also issued death threats against his family members living in Moscow. HRC Memorial has lodged a complaint to the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation and requested an investigation to be launched into the threats. The messages follow

Frontline NEWlogo-2 full version - cropped

the publication on web site of Memorial on 27 December 2012, of a report containing information about reported torture by Uzbekistan’s security services against Uzbek citizens on the territory of the Russian Federation.

Front Line Defenders believes that the death threats issued against Vitaly Ponomarev are directly linked to his work.

2012 OSCE Human Dimension meeting gets information on HRD problems

September 27, 2012

Organisation for the Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) has an active human rights defenders programme that is often overlooked. The statement below illustrates the kind of cases that continue to plague parts of Europe.

The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), within the framework of their joint programme, the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, submitted to the OSCE information on the threats and obstacles faced by human rights defenders in OSCE Participating States.

In 2011 and 2012, human rights defenders in Eastern Europe and Central Asia continued to operate in a difficult, and sometimes hostile environment. The lack of accountability and respect for the rule of law remained acute, particularly in Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Uzbekistan. For the full text go to:

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe OSCE : Contribution to the 2012 OSCE Human Dimension … – FIDH.