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Better integration of human rights needed in legislation and sentencing

16 July 2013

For the rule of law to be realized, international human rights law must be taken fully on board, NHC director Harry Hummel said in a speech on 11 July 2013 in Vienna. Gaps in implementation of international guidance on human rights can be a matter of bad or understaffed management of implementation systems. But lack of political will often also is an issue, he said. In these cases civil society organizations can play an important role in pushing for full implementation. Their role should be fostered rather than suppressed, as is increasingly the case in a number of OSCE participating states. He called for the immediate release of persons imprisoned for defending human rights, such as Azimzhan Askarov (Kyrgyzstan) and Ales Bialiatski (Belarus).

Mr Hummel spoke at the OSCE’s Supplementary Human Dimension Meeting on the Rule of Law in the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights. International standards should be made applicable in national courts either directly or by good implementation legislation (or both), he said. Verdicts or pronouncements on specific cases by international human rights bodies should be translated into wider changes in policy and practice. For nearly all states in the OSCE region the main such body is the European Court of Human Rights; a number of other OSCE participating states are covered by the UN Human Rights Committee.

A wide range of policy makers, professionals and practitioners play a role in the implementation of human rights standards. The law enforcement sector is of particular importance, Mr Hummel said. All too often, police resort to discriminatory policing or to torture and ill-treatment as a way to extract confessions.