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Civil Society Campaign for Fundamental Rights Central Asia

  • Funder: European Union (EIDHR), Netherlands Embassy in Moscow (MRF), Netherlands Embassy in Astana (MRF)
  • Partners: International Partnership for Human Rights (Brussels), Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (Almaty), Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights (Vienna), anonymous partner from Uzbekistan
  • Project period: March 2011 – April 2013
  • Budget: € 901.111
  • For information mail to:

Civil society activists in the Central Asian countries Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan face an uphill battle in their work to defend fundamental rights. Interference or harassment by authorities is a concern in the entire region, although the risk differs significantly per country. Turkmenistan is a closed country for many types of monitoring, therefore conducting such activities can be life-threatening, while there are currently less direct threats in Kazakhstan than in the other two countries. Given the repressive climate in which they work, it is very important for them to be able to effectively reach out to the international community. However, civil society activists in the region currently do not have the capacity and resources to effectively cooperate with international organizations.

This project has been set up because of this situation, to address the capacity-building needs of activists in Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Its aim is to assist local human rights organizations to raise international awareness and mobilize support for the protection of fundamental rights in their countries, with a focus on three important rights: freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly and freedom of religion. Direct partners of the NHC in this project are the International Partnership for Human Rights in Brussels and one civil rights organisation in each of the three countries: the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law; the Turkmen Initiative for Human Rights; and an anonymous organization from Uzbekistan.

The project supports activists involved with one of the local partner organisations to monitor and report on human rights violations, and to reach out to key international actors in order to provide them with information and policy recommendations. It stimulates increased international cooperation, which should contribute to the emergence of a regional network for resource-sharing, coordination and cooperation, especially between the three organizations directly involved as partners. Furthermore, the project improves their skills to assist people whose rights are violated.

Project activities relate to different aspects of the activists’ needs. At the start of the project civil society activists received training on human rights monitoring, reporting and advocacy. The information on human rights violations which is provided by human rights monitors in the field serves as a basis to draft publications on the latest developments. These publications are disbursed to the international community and used for advocacy purposes. The civil society activists from the three countries visit relevant events such as the UN Human Rights Committee Review on their country, Central Asia hearings at the European Parliament and the OSCE HDIM. There they have the opportunity to not only provide first hand information on the latest developments but also to provide recommendations to the relevant key persons. Another aspect of the project relates to the importance of building networks with other organisations which work on human rights and Central Asia, in order to coordinate their advocacy actions.

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Watch this video where prominent human rights defenders speak about the violations in their countries!