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Human rights appeal to the OSCE

06 December 2012

Work for human rights is increasingly insecure in the OSCE region, said an NGO conference in Dublin, co-organized by the Netherlands Helsinki Committee. The Dublin Declaration issued by the conference said the human rights defenders are increasingly “being targeted for persecution for their legitimate work, banned from entering OSCE states where they do human rights monitoring, subjected to smear campaigns, branded as foreign agents and enemies of the state, imprisoned, subjected to torture and inhuman and degrading treatment, convicted on the basis of fabricated charges for crimes they have not committed, forced to emigrate, threatened, physically attacked and even murdered without any effective investigations being pursued, leading to prevailing impunity for perpetrators”.

Countries with a very problematic environment for human rights defenders include Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Central Asia, said the conference.

The OSCE should place security of human rights defenders much higher on its agenda to remain true to its origins in the 1975 Helsinki Final Act, which included the right of citizens to organize and express themselves to advocate for human rights.

The meeting was organized as a Parallel Civil Society Conference on the eve of the Dublin Ministerial Council meeting by the Civic Solidarity Platform, a network of more than fifty human rights NGOs from throughout the OSCE region, under the title “The Human Dimension, Essential for Security: Taking Forward OSCE Work in the Human Dimension”. The Platform is advocating for more access of NGOs to OSCE discussions.

Also on the agenda of the Parallel Conference were freedom of expression and racism and xenophobia, two issues on which Ireland as OSCE Chairman is proposing Resolutions to today’s Ministerial Council. A number of specific recommendations on the human rights situation in Ukraine were issued in the light of the upcoming Chairmanship of that country, including a much needed reform of trial procedures and steps to address persistent ill-treatment in prisons and police detention. Intolerance towards sexual minorities is a problem in Ukraine as well as in Russia, Serbia and a number of other countries, and should be addressed by the Chairmanship as well.

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