Stricter controls needed to avoid transborder corruption and excessive environmental damage in investment projects in Russia
30 - 06 - 2015
Better safeguards are needed against international complicity in the use of opaque and improper procedures in realizing large scale extraction and industrial projects in Russia. These procedures, as well as the track record of Russian counterparts, give rise to suspicions of involvement in corruption from the side of international partners. In addition, the procedures applied pay insufficient attention to large-scale environmental damage and to the destruction of the livelihood of the local population. These conclusions can be drawn from detailed case studies of two projects in Russia, on the oil and gas terminal on Taman peninsula and on copper and nickel mining in the Voronezh region. They are contained in a report by the Expert Group on Fighting Transborder Corruption of the EU-Russia Civil Society Forum. The report was presented at a Brussels seminar jointly organized between the Forum and the European Economic and Social Committee. The Expert Group is coordinated by the Netherlands Helsinki Committee.
30 - 06 - 2015
The Netherlands Helsinki Committee has started a crowdfunding project for juvenile prisoners in Lezhe, Albania. Currently, 16 juveniles live in horrendous conditions in the prison of Lezhe in Albania. This project aims to change the current situation and create a healthy and safe environment for the juveniles.
26 - 06 - 2015
As the first-ever European Games continue, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, Justice and Peace and human rights defenders from all over the world gathered for a solidarity sports event in the Royal Noordeinde Palace Garden in The Hague on the 20th of June.
25 - 06 - 2015
The NHC has called on the Dutch parliament to increase attention for people-to-people contacts in relations with Russia. The recently issued governmental policy paper on relations with Russia is scheduled for debate on 25 June. The paper does recognize the importance of contacts at the level of individual citizens, but the NHC calls for concrete steps to support such contacts.
Defending the rights of human trafficking victims in Slovakia: Report on the First Expert Meeting in Slovakia for lawyers
2 - 06 - 2015
On 15 April, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and NGO Human Rights League (HRL) from Slovakia organized the first Expert Meeting for lawyers on human trafficking-related topics, in Bratislava. The meeting focused on the topic 'trauma' and looked at the impact that trauma can have on the memory of human trafficking survivors and the ability of victims to give detailed and consistent testimony in court proceedings. The meeting also consisted of exercises that showed lawyers how to improve the communication with clients who are victims of human trafficking suffering from traumatic experiences.
2 - 06 - 2015
The following statement is issued by the Civic Solidarity Platform (CSP) - a network of human rights NGOs in Europe, North America and the former Soviet Union - to the members of Kyrgyzstan’s parliament to reject the “foreign agents” bill that is under consideration in Parliament at this moment. In it CSP members from Kyrgyzstan and International NGOs, including the Netherlands Helsinki Committee, call on the parliament to instead safeguard the rights of freedom and expression of NGO’s.
Expert meeting: “Victims of trafficking in human beings: interview techniques (including the interviewing of children)”
2 - 06 - 2015
On 16 and 17 April experts on issues relating to human trafficking met in Ilidza, Sarajevo to discuss “Victims of trafficking in human beings: interview techniques (including interviewing of children)”. The meeting took place in the framework of a project "Promoting a Victim-Centred Approach in Trafficking Cases in Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina".
2 - 06 - 2015
On 1st until 2nd of June, the current state of economic, social and cultural rights in Kyrgyzstan was discussed by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The Netherlands Helsinki Committee was present and supported the presence of two of its partners, the Child Rights Defenders League and Advocacy Network for Children. Together we represented a network of ten NGOs working on economic and social rights for women and children in Kyrgyzstan.
19 - 05 - 2015
From 28 April until 1 May, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency (DJI) organized a study visit in The Netherlands for sixteen representatives from the Correctional Centre (CC) Lipjan in Kosovo, a representative from Kosovar Rehabilitation Centre for Torture victims (KRCT) and the General Director of the Kosovo Correctional Service. The study visit is one of the project activities of the MATRA CoPROL projects 'Improvement of Prison Conditions for Reintegration of Juvenile Detainees in Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo' that the NHC and Dutch Custodial Institutions Agency have been implementing since 2013.
11 - 05 - 2015
The implementation of recommendations of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture can be substantially improved, said professor Anton van Kalmthout in The Hague on 8 May. “Even though CPT recommendations are considered ‘soft law’ by many, they still are law”, he said. Van Kalmthout was key note speaker at the conference on the prevention of torture in Europe, organized by the Netherlands Helsinki Committee. The conference was held on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the CPT, provided for by the Convention for the Prevention of Torture of the Council of Europe. Member of the Netherlands Senate and of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Tiny Kox announced he would pursue a resolution on the work of the CPT by the Assembly.
22 - 04 - 2015
Intigam Aliyev, Azerbaijan’s renowned human rights lawyer with an impeccable international reputation, has been convicted to 7.5 years in prison. The Netherlands Helsinki Committee and the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights are appalled by the decision to sentence Intigam Aliyev. We call on the European policy-makers and the national governments to put meaningful pressure on their Azerbaijani counterparts to live up to their human rights obligations, should they wish to continue benefitting from the current political and economic cooperation with Europe.
17 - 04 - 2015
The Netherlands Helsinki Committee is shocked by yesterday’s 6,5 year prison sentence for Rasul Jafarov. “The country’s partners in Europe should step up their efforts to convince the authorities of Azerbaijan to change its repressive policies towards human rights defenders”, said NHC Executive Director Harry Hummel. “Analysis of the procedures against Mr Jafarov leads us to the conclusion that the charges of mismanagement of funds are a cover for achieving the purpose of silencing a prominent critic.”
14 - 04 - 2015
On Thursday April 9th 2015 the Netherlands Helsinki Committee hosted a group of law students from the Leiden University’s LLM programme Advanced Studies in European and International Human Rights Law. The students engaged in a discussion with the NHC’s deputy director Jan de Vries and project officer Tim van der Maarel.
31 - 03 - 2015
On March 31st the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and it’s partner organization in Bulgaria, Animus Association Foundation, organized the first Expert Meeting on human trafficking-related topics for lawyers, in Sofia. The first meeting is about the impact of trauma, memory and the ability of victims to declare detailed and consistently. Attention will also be paid to communication between lawyer and victim/client.
26 - 03 - 2015
EU leaders should prominently address human rights issues with Kyrgyzstan's President Almazbek Atambayev, who is in Brussels for meetings on 26-27 March, and insist that he use his powers to ensure compliance with the country's international human rights obligations. This is the message in a joint letter sent to European Council President Donald Tusk, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and European Parliament President Martin Schultz by a group of NGOs ahead of Atambayev's visit.
20 - 03 - 2015
In 2014, Azerbaijani authorities arrested, convicted or imprisoned at least 34 journalists, bloggers, human rights defenders and civil society activists. The arguments of government spokespersons regarding these arrests, combined with similar experiences of arbitrary detentions in previous years, have led many people to perceive the charges against these individuals as fabricated and politically motivated. Two prominent lawyers and human rights advocates are among those currently in custody: Intigam Aliyev and Rasul Jafarov. Their trials began in January 2015.
18 - 03 - 2015
The Tajikistani NGO coalition on promoting economic and social rights, the Netherlands Helsinki Committee and the International Partnership for Human Rights call on the government of Tajikistan to cooperate with civil society in the follow up of the recommendations of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural rights which were published earlier this month. The Concluding Observations of the Committee highlight the need to step up efforts to fight corruption and to improve labour, education and housing policies, as well as access to social security in Tajikistan. More needs to be done to combat discrimination. In addition, women, children, disabled persons, migrant workers and their families and other vulnerable groups should be better protected.
16 - 03 - 2015
On 24 March the NHC will host a visit by Ella Poliakova, head of the Russian NGO Soldiers’ Mothers of Saint-Petersburg. Soldiers’ Mothers is an NGO founded in 1991 and is engaged in uniting public efforts to protect the lives, health and civil rights of draftees, service members, and members of their families, and to offer legal, social, and psychological assistance to the citizens of Russia. Since Soldiers' Mothers of Saint-Petersburg began reporting about the war in Ukraine, it has been under much pressure of the Russian government. In August 2014, the NGO has been labelled as a "Foreign Agent", an expression akin to "spying", for speaking out on Ukraine.
11 - 03 - 2015
Registration is now open for the Conference on the Prevention of Torture in Europe, which the NHC organizes on 8 May, at the premises of and with the cooperation of The Hague University for Applied Sciences. The conference is held on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Committee for the Prevention of Torture, an international inspection body of places of detention established under the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture. The work of the committee covers all member states of the Council of Europe.
6 - 03 - 2015
The situation with regard to economic, social and cultural rights in Tajikistan has been discussed during the 54th session of the UN Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights on February 24th and 25th in Geneva. The discussion was based on a report written by the State assessing their proper compliance with the norms in the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In addition the Committee used information from international organisations and non-governmental organisations.
18 - 02 - 2015
The NHC joined an appeal questioning the imprisonment of environmental campaigner Yevgeni Vitishko, a member of the Russian NGO Environmental Watch North Caucasus. He has been imprisoned since February 2014, the month of the Sochi Olympics. His organization was active documenting and protesting the environmental effects of the Games.
13 - 02 - 2015
Currently, 16 juveniles live in horrendous conditions in the prison of Lezhe, Albania. They need a separate building with access to education, so they can improve their prospects for a successful future. The NHC wants to achieve this by refurbishing a current building. Your help, however, is needed for the realization of this project.
9 - 02 - 2015
Like in many countries, women in conflict with the law in Albania are neglected as policies are drafted with only the male majority of offenders in mind, creating an urgent need for greater consideration of women's needs in criminal justice and penal policy. As part of her PhD thesis, Edlira Papavangjeli, Program Manager and Researcher at the Albanian Helsinki Committee, carried out research into the profile and needs of women prisoners in Albania. You can find a short summary of this thesis and the thesis itself (pdf version) below.
26 - 01 - 2015
From 26 January until 30 January, an Albanian delegation visits the Netherlands for a study visit in the framework of the Matra CoPROL project promoting a victim-centred approach in trafficking cases . Each day, participants of the study visit will write a blog for the NHC about their experiences. You can read here about their days in the Netherlands.
22 - 01 - 2015
The preliminary hearing in the case of Rasul Jafarov, a prominent human rights defender and a prisoner of conscience, was held in Baku on January 15, 2015. Journalists, diplomats and family members attended the hearing. Rasul Jafarov was brought to the Baku Court on Grave Crimes in handcuffs and was kept in a metal cage during the trial. While used in Azerbaijan, the European Court of Human Rights considers that such practice amounts to an inhumane and degrading treatment of the accused.
22 - 01 - 2015
As member of the international NGO coalition “Sport for Rights”, the NHC signed a joint statement to the president of the European Olympic Committee concerning the first European Games that are due to be held in Azerbaijan in June 2015. The NGO coalition is concerned that the Azerbaijani regime will use these events to try to whitewash its deteriorating human rights record, including its widening crackdown on civil society. In January, the Sports for Rights Coalition also sent a letter to Chancellor Merkel to urge her to use the opportunity of meeting president Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan to demand the immediate release of prominent human rights defenders. You can read both letters in this article.
9 - 01 - 2015
The Netherlands Helsinki Committee is concerned about the further intensification of the Azerbaijani authorities’ campaign against human rights defenders towards the end of 2014. The trumped-up charges (related to alleged financial mismanagement) against Rasul Jafarov and Intigam Aliyev, two prominent defenders arrested in August, were widened (here and here), so they now could be convicted to up to 12 years. The start of their trials was announced for 15 and 16 January respectively; the NHC is working with other NGOs on arranging independent monitoring of their trials.
5 - 01 - 2015
The deadline of the essay contest on the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) is postponed to 15 February. The contest is open for students and recent graduates across Europe, who have a chance to win €1000 by submitting a 2000-4000 words essay. The prize winner will be announced at a conference on the prevention of torture and other forms of ill-treatment in Europe, which is being organized by the NHC in March 2015.
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