Posts Tagged ‘Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly’

Kazakh Human Rights Defender Yelena Semyonova not allowed to travel to Strasbourg

October 10, 2018

Kazakh rights activist Yelena Semyonova (file photo)
Kazakh rights activist Yelena Semyonova (file photo)

Posted in Front Line, Human Rights Defenders | Leave a Comment »
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Turkey angry after PACE Havel prize is awarded to jailed judge

October 18, 2017

Turkish judge Murat Arslan, who was head of the Association for the Union of Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV).

The Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, named after the dissident playwright who later became Czech president, is given by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). On Monday 16 October the prize awarded to the Turkish judge Murat Arslan, who was head of the Association for the Union of Judges and Prosecutors (YARSAV). Arslan was arrested in October 2016 on suspicion of links to Gulen who Ankara blames for the failed coup aimed at ousting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The PACE described Arslan as a “staunch supporter of the independence of the judiciary.” But the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement that it “is wrong and unacceptable to award the prize … to a person who is a member of Feto terrorist organisation“. “While the judicial process is underway, presenting a terrorism suspect as a human rights defender is a betrayal of the ideals of democracy and human rights,” it said. For more on the award see:

In his absence, the prize was received by a representative of the European Magistrates for Democracy and Freedom group (Medel) which had nominated him. In a message from jail, Arslan told the ceremony that Turkey had “learnt nothing” from Europe’s 20th century history but “we will not let ourselves be closed up in a wall of fear”. []

Turkey has been a member of the Council of Europe since 1950 but relations have frayed after the PACE in April voted to reopen political monitoring of the country.  see also:

Posted in awards, human rights, Human Rights Defenders | 1 Comment »
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Council of Europe losing patience with Turkey after arrest of human rights defenders

July 11, 2017

Many NGOs and governments have expressed deep concern over what is happening in Turkey. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) probably matters more than most in this case as it is one of the few international institutions where Turkey still is a ‘functioning member’. Back in April it was put on a ‘watch list’ and Turkey reacted furiously [ ]. Now, on 7 July 2017, the co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Turkey, Marianne Mikko (Estonia, SOC) and Nigel Evans (United Kingdom, EC), have expressed serious concern at the arrest of several prominent human rights defenders in Istanbul on 5 July, including Amnesty International Director Idil Eser.

These arrests, which took place during a training seminar on human rights defenders, are another devastating signal at a time when Turkey needs to address serious human rights issues, as pointed out by the Parliamentary Assembly in its most recent resolution.” “We ask for the immediate release of these human rights defenders, and urge the Turkish authorities to ensure that fundamental freedoms, including freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, are duly and effectively secured, and to refrain from further action which might have a chilling effect on society,” said the co-rapporteurs.

On 5 July 2017, ten human rights defenders were arrested and detained: Nalan Erkem and Özlem Dalkiran (Helsinki Citizens Assembly), Ilknur Üstün (Women’s Coalition), Idil Eser and Veli Acu (Amnesty International), Günal Kursun (Human Rights Agenda Association), Nejat Tastan (Association for Monitoring Equal Rights), Seyhmuz Özbekli (Rights Initiative) and moderators Ali Garawi and Peter Steudtner. [See also back in 2016:]

On 8 June 2017, Yves Pozzo Di Borgo (France, EPP/CD), PACE’s rapporteur on “Ensuring the protection of human rights defenders in the member States of the Council of Europe“, had already expressed his deep concern after the arrest of Taner Kiliç, Chair of Amnesty International. (

Turkish author Elif Şafak / Elif Shafak urges her fellow writers to resist self-censorship and instead challenge tyranny and repression with their pens. However, it’s not enough for writers alone to defend democracy — we all must become activists and stand in solidarity with those who oppose tyranny worldwide. See her speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum this year: Oslo Freedom Forum
On 24 May 2017 Front Line Defenders urged that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan – joining the leaders of other NATO nations to attend a summit of the military alliance in Brussels on 25 May – be held accountable for his treatment of HRDs. Front Line Defenders urged countries to call on the Turkish government to fulfil the country’s international human rights obligations and to cease the systematic targeting of human rights defenders (HRDs).

Source: PACE: News


Posted in Front Line, human rights, Human Rights Defenders, Human Rights Foundation | 3 Comments »
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Today PACE must adopt resolutions on human rights defenders and NGO restrictions

January 28, 2016

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) must address the shrinking space for civil society. It must adopt resolutions to strengthen the protection and role of human rights defenders, and to prevent restrictions on NGO activities, in an increasingly worrying environment in many Council of Europe countries, especially Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation. These were the conclusions of discussions at the NGO side event on 27 January 2016 in Strasbourg. HRHN - network logo

I cannot accept that so many remain in prison and Europe doesn’t react strongly… The reason Azerbaijan continues the crackdown is that nobody, including the Council of Europe, takes any serious action,” stated Emin Huseynov, Institute for Reporters Freedom and Safety (IRFS), speaking at an event organised by a group of NGOs at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, sponsored by MPs Mailis Reps (Estonia) and Yves Cruchten (Luxembourg).

Since 2012, the situation has deteriorated in Russia… The activities of HRDs and NGOs are now considered political activities, and even if they do not receive foreign support they end up on the list of foreign agents and are constantly victims of harassment. It would be great to see a Council of Europe reaction on this,” commented Konstantin Baranov, International Youth Human Rights Movement, also speaking at the event.

The Assembly now has an opportunity to act, by adopting two draft resolutions today, 28 January 2016. Together, these resolutions address reprisals against human rights defenders cooperating with the Council of Europe and impunity for actors targeting civil society, and call for measures to end restrictions on NGOs and the misuse of restrictive legislation to criminalise the work of human rights defenders. See my earlier post:

Rapporteur Mailis Reps, author of the draft resolution Strengthening the Protection and Role of Human Rights Defenders, at the event stated: “Too many human rights defenders are paying a high price for their work and their fate should receive much greater attention from the Council of Europe’s institutions and member states.”

Rapporteur Yves Cruchten, author of the draft resolution Preventing Inappropriate Restrictions on NGO Activities, further stated: “When a member of a parliament decides to join PACE, this MP makes a pledge to human rights. We need to speak up and not let our governments make deals that disregard human rights.” 

Source: PACE Must Act: Protect human rights defenders, prevent NGO restrictions – Human Rights House Network

Posted in human rights, Human Rights Defenders | Leave a Comment »
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Council of Europe: draft resolution addresses reprisals with priority

December 9, 2015

An interesting read is the latest report to the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly by Rapporteur: Ms Mailis REPS, Estonia, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe. The (draft) report is entitled: “Strengthening the protection and role of human rights defenders in Council of Europe member States“.

[On 19 March 2013, the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights appointed Ms Mailis as rapporteur, following the departure from the Assembly of the previous rapporteur, Mr György Frunda.]

The Draft resolution and draft recommendation (AS/Jur (2015) 37) were adopted by the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights on 8 December 2015 and here are some highlights:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Human Rights Defenders, Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders | 1 Comment »
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

88-year old Russian human rights defender received 2015 Vaclav Havel Prize

October 2, 2015


The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has awarded its annual Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize to veteran Russian activist Ludmilla Alexeeva, 88, at a special ceremony in Strasbourg on the opening day of its fall plenary session on 28 September 2015.

Ludmilla Alexeeva has inspired many generations of activists in Russia, but also abroad, to commit themselves to the struggle for justice” – PACE President Anne Brasseur, chair of the selection panel, said presenting the award on 28 September. In her youth, Alexeeva gave up an academic career to join the Soviet dissident movement, going on to become a founding member of the Moscow Helsinki Group in 1976. A year later, she was forced to emigrate to the United States. Alexeeva returned to Russia in 1989 and became the International Helsinki Foundation president and later joined the Russian presidential human rights commission. At a demonstration in Moscow’s Triumfalnaya Square in 2010 against restrictions on the freedom of assembly, the by then 82-year-old head of the Moscow Helsinki group, received a severe blow to the head.

Alexeeva told the Assembly that for her receiving the prize was a “recognition of all Russian human rights defenders who work in very hard circumstances”. She also condemned the so-called foreign-agent law adopted in 2012, which she said aimed at “destroying” civil society groups. [Critics say the Russian government is using the foreign-agent law to hound non-governmental organizations that are critical of the Kremlin. As of June, there were 67 organizations deemed as such by Russia’s Ministry of Justice, including Transparency International and the Sakharov Center.]

Source: Russian Rights Activist Awarded Vaclav Havel Prize – Transitions Online

for info on this award:áclav-havel-prize-human-rights

Posted in awards, human rights, Human Rights Defenders | 1 Comment »
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Azerbaijan replies to critical NGO comments

November 21, 2014

Last week I published a post Now a strong reply has come from the government’s side (through lkhan Suleymanov, Chairman of Azerbaijani Delegation to the Euronest PA) which tries to counter the criticism by focusing mostly on the position taken by the European Stability Initiative, strangely ignoring all the other sources which said similar things. On 21 November, /PRNewswire/ summarized the statement as follows (the last two paragraphs invoking the occupation of Azerbaijani territories would seem to weaken the case): Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in human rights | Leave a Comment »
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Snowden alleges spy agencies have targeted human rights defenders

April 9, 2014

Edward Snowden, a former US intelligence contractor and whistleblower, made the allegations in a videoconference to PACE today.

Edward Snowden made the allegations in a videoconference to PACE today.© FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images

Former US intelligence contractor and whistleblower Edward Snowden’s latest allegations point to a very real risk that human rights defenders have been the targets of mass surveillance by the US and British spy agencies. Snowden, who is living in exile in Moscow, made the remarks this afternoon, 8 April 2014, via a videoconference link to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in Strasbourg, France. When asked if the US National Security Agency (NSA) or its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) were actively spying on human rights organizations such as Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and others, he said: “Without question, yes, absolutely …The NSA has in fact specifically targeted the communications of either leaders or staff members in a number of purely civil or human rights organizations of the kind described”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in AI, HRW, human rights, Human Rights Defenders | 1 Comment »
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Belarus Ales Byalyatski wins Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize of Council of Europe

September 30, 2013


Ales Byalyatski wins Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize

Imprisoned Belarus human rights defender Ales Byalyatski has been awarded the Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize of the  Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly.  Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in FIDH, human rights, Human Rights Defenders | 1 Comment »
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,