Analytics and Interview

On 16 January 2015 late in the evening the website of the Ministry of Justice published a statement that the NGO Committee Against Torture had been added to the register of non-profit organizations designated as ‘foreign agents’.
Tanya Lokshina is the Russia program director at Human Rights Watch and Honorary Participant of International Youth Human Rights Movement: As the crisis in Ukraine escalated this spring, the Kremlin’s vicious crackdown on civil society also escalated. Space for independent civic activity in Russia is shrinking dramatically, but international policymakers and the media have been understandably too distracted to do much about it. Since early spring, it seems as though every week brings a new pernicious law or legislative proposal.
Earlier this year, the correspondent of Youth Human Rights Movement from Germany Jakob Stürmann interviewed Konstantin Baranov, member of the Coordination Council of the International Youth Human Rights Movement. They discussed so called “law against homosexual propaganda” and the overall situation of LGBT in Russia.  

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Oleg Sentsov, Olexander Kolchenko, Hennadiy Afanasiev and Oleksiy Chyrniy have been held in Russian jails for two years already under fabricated charges of ‘terrorism’. We consider it being necessary to express solidarity with those who are persecuted due to their pro-Ukrainian views, civic stand and desire for freedom in Russia-annexed Crimea.
Helsinki Committee of Armenia has published “Human Rights in Armenia 2014” Annual Report. The report reflects on the Right to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association, Torture, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, Political Persecutions, Freedom of Conscience and Religion, The Rights of the Child, Protection of Labor Rights.
«We have a few questions for you,» a border guard told Sinaver Kadyrov, a Crimean Tatar activist, at the Armyansk checkpoint in northern Crimea on Jan. 23. Kadyrov was on his way to Kherson, in southern Ukraine, to fly to Turkey for medical treatment. It was the beginning of an ordeal that ended with a local court expelling him from Crimea, his home of almost 25 years.

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority It is time to sit back and reflect.

Mark Twain


Youth Human Rights Movement

Human Rights Activists Call for Strengthening the OSCE Standards on Human Rights and give it Two Years to Reform

Дата публикации: 

From 26 September to 7 October, the Annual Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) on human dimension took place in Warsaw (Poland). The event was attended by the representatives of the OSCE member states, international experts, human rights defenders and NGOs activists.

The issues related to human rights and democracy are considered by the OSCE in the context of the human dimension, which is the basis of modern security along with military and political, economic and environmental dimensions. Meetings in Warsaw allow representatives of civil society and official delegations of the member-states to exchange views and to assess together how the states fulfill their liabilities.

It is not the first year when the representatives of the Youth Human Rights Movement take an active part in the meetings of the OSCE in Warsaw. As usual, they pay particular attention to the sessions which consider the issues of fundamental human rights: freedom of peaceful assembly and association and protection of human rights defenders. This year the presentation of two new ODIHR tools became a part of the Conference - guidelines on monitoring freedom of peaceful assembly and on-line guide on the standards of freedom of association. The editors particularly noted that the representatives of the YHRM, along with several other NGOs, have made a significant contribution to editing of these guides.

Viktoria Gromova and Dmitry Makarov, members of the Coordinating Council of the YHRM, and Andrey Yurov, honorary president of the YHRM, spoke also in the sessions devoted to freedom of movement. Apart from the various countries’ practice of making lists of foreigners who are banned entry (Viktoria and Andrey, the citizens of Russia, were denied entry into the Republic of Belarus this spring because they were put in such lists), the human rights defenders also raised the problem of making "blacklists" of civic activists within the country. This allows law enforcement agencies to prevent the movement of citizens in the territory of their own country (including removing them from trains and planes). According to the YHRM members, the OSCE can and should play a leading role in the development of standards of freedom of movement in its member states, which would rule out the possibility of such wrongful limitations.

In addition to the speeches at the official sessions of the meeting, the YHRM representatives held several working meetings with the officers of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the official delegations (including the USA, Lithuania and Ireland); they also participated in several side events.

One of these meetings has been co-organized with Frontline, the Human Rights House Foundation and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH/OMCT). It was devoted to the protection of human rights defenders in the OSCE region (in particular, Russia, South Caucasus, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan). Dmitry Makarov announced recommendations on this topic, which were outlined by the YHRM, including the need for guiding principals for the OSCE member-states in the field of the protection of human rights defenders and the establishment of a special OSCE institute for the protection of human rights defenders with a mandate similar to the existing mandate of the Representative on Freedom of the Media. He also spoke about the work of the Urgent Response Center (URC), which was established at the end of last year in Russia, as one of the possible mechanisms of protection.
The YHRM, as a member of the Committee on International Control over the Situation with Human Rights in Belarus, has been involved in a side event that presented the results of 9 months’ work of the Committee.

A side event devoted to the prospects of involvement of NGOs in the OSCE activities has become a significant moment of the conference. Most of the speakers touched upon various possibilities for NGOs to participate in the OSCE events, including the priorities of the 2012 Irish Presidency and the plans to hold a side conference of civil society, timed to the meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council in early December in Vilnius. In conclusion Andrey Yurov presented a more radical position of civil society organizations in relation to the current state of affairs in the OSCE. He reminded that a year ago at the meeting of the International Civic Initiative for the OSCE (ICI OSCE), the participants announced that the OSCE was in crisis, they gave it three years to reform - if nothing would change, the organization has to be dismissed. A striking example of the OSCE inefficiency was its inability to influence the situation in Kazakhstan, Belarus and other countries where the organization is rather an instrument of legitimization of dictatorial regimes. The OSCE allows the representatives of these countries to come to the official events and allege that they meet all obligations on human rights. At the same time, the OSCE does not have real mechanisms to change these situations. According to Andrey Yurov, among other ways, there are several mechanisms of modernizing the organization: the rejection of the "cold war" principle of consensus in decision making, as well as more active involvement of NGOs in the discussion of the OSCE work on three "dimensions" ( not only human dimension). The remaining two years will show whether the organization manages to reform or not.