First Pride March held in Moldova
On 19 May, the first Pride March was held in Chisinau, Moldova. This is a historic day for people fighting for LGBT rights as well as a victory for freedom of assembly in Moldova.
The overall human rights climate in Eastern Europe remains very negative. In Russia, officials and politicians continue to suppress freedom of speech and media. Discrimination of minorities remains a vast problem, especially for ethnic minorities and the LGBT community. Moldova lacks a free press and was ranked 148th out of 195, according to Freedom House in May 2009. In Belarus, civil and political rights are heavily restricted and freedom of assembly is constantly violated.
On 19 May, the first Pride March was held in Chisinau, Moldova. This is a historic day for people fighting for LGBT rights as well as a victory for freedom of assembly in Moldova.
A court in Chisinau has found a man liable for harassment and victimization of his ex-wife on the ground of sexual orientation. “This is an important court decision in the fight against discrimination and for equal rights and we are happy that the court ruling is pronounced on the International Day against Homophobia”, says Åsa Bergqvist at Civil Rights Defenders.
Three United Nations independent human rights experts express serious concern at the “obstructive, intimidating and stigmatizing effects” brought about by the implementation in the Russian Federation of the law on ‘non-commercial organizations’. “Our fears seem to have been confirmed,” said the Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai.
The International Partnership Group for Azerbaijan strongly condemns a series of repressive legislative amendments that Azerbaijan’s National Assembly adopted on 14 May 2013. “The amendments seek to ban criticism and increase the cost of dissent,” the undersigned organisations said. A report recently published by Civil Rights Defenders shows that repression of civil society has reached new lows.
A year ago Swedish TV viewers’ attention was directed towards Azerbaijan; and wile the Eurovision Song Contest was held in Baku, the regime’s human rights violations continued in the backyard. Today, the lights have gone out but the repression of civil society has reached new lows. On 14 May, Civil Rights Defenders will release a report on the situation of human rights defenders in Azerbaijan. Listen to Vugar Goyajev’s presentation of the findings of the report.
A number of NGO’s across Russia have received loosely worded warnings from the Prosecutor’s Office in the aftermath of inspections earlier this year. “This is an attempt by the authorities to force human rights organisations to register as foreign agents by confusing and frightening them.” says Joanna Kurosz, Civil Rights Defenders.
The member states of the United Nations should hold Azerbaijan to account during its Universal Periodic Review (UPR) on 30 April 2013 for its failure to protect basic human rights, says a group of international human rights organisations in a joint statement.
During the summer of 2013 (1 June to 31 August), we are seeking an intern to the Department for support to human rights defenders at risk and the Department for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, in Stockholm. As an intern you will help administrating the programs, gather information for statements and news to the website. Email your resume and a brief description of yourself no later than 5 May.
In late March, Civil Rights Defender’s partners Coming Out and the Russian LGBT Network submitted their alternative reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, offering their commentary on the most recent state report. In the official report, the Russian Federation completely ignores the existence of people under 18 who identify as homosexual, bisexual, and transgender.
Hundreds, maybe thousands, non-governmental organisations in Russia are being subjected to inspections. The wave of check ups comes after the introduction of a series of laws restricting the activities of civil society and discrediting their work in the eyes of the public.
The Azeri independent journalist and editor-in-chief of Khural, Avaz Zeynalli, has been sentenced to nine years in prison for bribery, extortion and tax evasion, in a trial that appears to have been fabricated. Civil Rights Defenders calls on the Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt and his European colleagues to prioritise human rights in their contacts with the Azeri government.
Serbia, Hungary and the Czech Republic have all come a long way from the time when communism was overthrown. But the path from transition to consolidation of democracy is long and difficult. Where do we stand today, in the three countries? What can we learn from the past? Four panellists will share their analysis and thoughts: Borka Pavicevic and Tanja Petovar from Serbia, Jan Urban from the Czech Republic and Miklos Haraszti from Hungary.
Since its launch in December 2012, Civil Rights Defender’s partner, the Art for Democracy campaign, has been under attack by the Azerbaijani authorities. These moves have occurred against a backdrop of a vicious ongoing crackdown on broader civil society in Azerbaijan, the organisation says in a press release.
Civil Rights Defenders is seriously concerned about the repeated harassment of Stepan Popovsky in connection to his human rights work. We urge the President of the de facto administration of Transnistria, Mr. Yevgeny Shevchuk, to ensure that the accusations against Stepan Popovsky are impartially investigated.
After 15 years of struggle, Civil Rights Defender’s Moldovan partner GenderDoc-M was finally able to exercise its legitimate right to assembly on 14 February. All previous attempts have been banned or in different ways hindered by the authorities. Freedom of assembly is not only a human right, guaranteed by major international and European instruments, but also expressed in the Constitution of Moldova.
The Azeri government is putting new pressure on the country’s already repressed civil society. NGOs that receive even minor funds can be severly punished, according to a new draft law. The draft follows a series of repressions of media workers and civil activists. This is especially worrying taking into account the upcoming presidential elections in Azerbaijan in the autumn.
The European Court has handed down the first judgement of a case stemming from Chechnya under Ramzan Kadyrov’s rule. The case regards Tamerlan Suleymanov, who was abducted in spring 2011. This shows that grave human rights violations and impunity in Chechnya has not ended with the armed conflict.
Civil Rights Defenders and Front Line Defenders are concerned for the safety of human rights defenders in Transnistria, the internationally unrecognised separatist republic of Moldova. The two organisations urge the Transnistrian administration to do their outmost to protect and ensure that threats or attacks against human rights defenders are publicly condemned and investigated.
A Russian federal law banning “propaganda of homosexuality” was approved in its first reading in the State Duma on 25 January, with only one out of 390 deputies voting against it. The law imposes hefty administrative fines on “propaganda” among minors. LGBT activists, including Civil Rights Defender’s partner, the Russian LGBT Network, have expressed their deep concerns against this discriminatory law.
The Belarusian authorities have initiated what seems to be a campaign against the LGBT community in the country. Over 30 members of the human rights organisation Gay Belarus have been interrogated by police after the organisation attempted for the second time to register at the Ministry of Justice.
Seven LGBT activists were detained for kissing at a rally near the State Duma in Moscow on 19 December. The event was organised by Civil Rights Defender’s partner, the Russian LGBT Network, and other local LGBT organisations, and was a protest against the bill banning ‘’propaganda of homosexuality’’.
On 18 December, the European Court of Human Rights criticized Russia for systemic non-investigation of disappearances in Chechnya. The court also recommended measures to address continuing violations in the region. This was stated in a ruling in the case Aslakhanova and others v Russia, led by Civil Rights Defender’s partner, Russian Justice Initiative.
On 21 December 2012, Brussels is hosting a EU-Russia summit. After receiving the Nobel Peace Prize last week, the European Union has a special responsibility for focusing on human rights in its talks with Russia, says Civil Rights Defenders, along with a number of leading human rights defenders.
Civil Rights Defenders urges Swedish authorities to denounce the bill on “propaganda of homosexuality among minors” and call on Russian authorities to honor their obligations in protection of human rights. The bill is up for reading in the State Duma on 19 December. It punishes propaganda of homosexuality among children, thus neglecting the fundamental right to freedom of expression.
The Nobel Peace Prize was recently awarded to the EU. The prize originates from a fortune, amassed from oil dealings in Azerbaijan. Today, Foreign Minister Carl Bildt will be in Baku with colleagues from Poland and Bulgaria. We expect that the conversation with the dictatorship will be infused by criticism of the human rights situation, Robert Hårdh and Rasul Jafarov, write on Newsmill.
Today, on the International Human Rights Day, Civil Rights Defenders starts a collaboration with the human rights campaign Art for Democracy. The campaign is launched by the Baku-based Human Rights Club and aims at promoting democratic reform and respect for human rights in Azerbaijan, by bringing together the country’s artistic and human rights communities.
A new court case against Stanislav Dmitrievsky, Head of the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society, signals that Russian authorities continue to restrict the work of human rights defenders. Civil Rights Defenders calls for international attention to this case as this is yet another attempt to silence Stanislav Dmitrievsky and his organisation for their work against impunity in the North Caucasus.
On 19 December the Russian Duma will begin the first reading of a bill which, if passed, effectively will ban “propaganda of homosexuality” in the country. The bill is allegedly aimed at protecting children from harmful information. Civil Rights Defenders urges the Russian Duma to dismiss the proposed legislation that is clearly in conflict with the freedom of speech.
As the Eurovision Song Contest 2012 is disappearing from people’s minds, the Azeri government has put all its efforts on controlling freedom of expression, assembly and association in the country. Rasul Jafarov is Chairman of the Human Rights Club and Campaign Coordinator for Sing for Democracy, hear him speak about human rights in Azerbaijan. Special guest: Loreen.
On 26 November, Belarusian authorities confiscated the office of Human Rights Centre Viasna. The seizure is connected to the case of Viasna’s chairman Ales Bialiatski, who in 2011 was sentenced to 4,5 years in prison and confiscation of property. “Viasna will continue its activities as usual”, says Valiantsin Stefanovich, deputy Chairman.
On 22 November two police officers were sentenced to two years in prison for power abuse in Dagestan. “Although these cases have numerous shortcomings, the mere fact of court hearings against police officers is a positive step forward”, said Joanna Kurosz, at Civil Rights Defenders.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that the Russian Federation violated the right to education in the cases of Moldovan schools using Latin in the region of Transnistria. The court has sentenced Russia to pay one million and twenty thousand EUR in respect of non-pecuniary damage and fifty thousand EUR for costs and expenses.
The Night Watch – this is what a group of about 20 Russia Young activists called the late-night act of vandalism on the premises of internationally funded Russian human rights organisations as well as the picket in front of Transparency International later that day. At least two organisations’ premises were vandalised with chalk drawings saying “foreign agent” and “I love USA” on their buildings on the same day as the “foreign agents” law came into effect.
Sweden and the EU must, in all their contacts with the Belarusian regime, demand the immediate release of Ales and the other political prisoners as a prerequisite for all forms of exchange and cooperation beyond political dialogue. The silenced need all the voices they can get, Robert Hårdh, Executive Director at Civil Rights Defenders, writes in an article in Sydsvenskan.
In a reply to Civil Rights Defender’s partners, Russia denies the existence of discrimination against LGBT people. Mr. Georgy Matyushkin, head of the Russian delegation, stated that ‘discrimination is prosecuted under the Criminal and Administrative Codes. The Russian legislation does not contain any norms that would discriminate against persons on grounds of sexual orientation.’
On 14 November, highly controversial amendments to the treason law took effect in Russia. While the previous law describes treason as activities threatening Russia’s external security, the new legislation deems any activity that may threaten Russia´s ´´national security, constitutional order, state or territorial integrity´´ as high treason.
The Dagestani human rights lawyer Sapiyat Magomedova was awarded the Swedish government’s Per Anger Prize during a ceremony in Gothenburg on 12 November 2012. In this interview she talks about her hope that this award will contribute to increased protection for her and other human rights defenders in the region and to raise awareness about the critical situation in the North Caucasus.
A police officer in Ingushetia was sentenced to eight years in prison for torture this week, in the first trial of its kind in this south Russian republic. Earlier this autumn a police officer in Dagestan was sentenced to three years in a similar case. Despite big flaws these are landmark sentences in a region where impunity for grave human rights violations is persistent.
On 8 November, Russia’s leading NGOs present their alternative report, as part of the United Nations Committee Against Torture’s official hearings on Russia’s compliance with the UN Convention against Torture. In another report, the Russian LGBT organisations Coming Out and Russian LGBT Network, specifically pointed out several problems related to torture and ill treatment of LGBT people.
On 3 November, the fifth conference for LGBT rights opened in Moscow. The conference, organised by Civil Rights Defenders and the Russian LGBT Network, gathers around 100 activists from Russia. “This year we have to decide how we will continue counteracting the rapidly spreading homophobic legislation and the growing pressure on the civil society”, says Igor Kochetkov, Chair of the LGBT Network.
Moldova’s Supreme Court of Justice has issued recommendations to local juridical instances that will improve the legal status of transgender people in Moldova. In another recent court ruling a Chisinau court stated that the right to private life was violated when a website published a “black list” of public figures promoting homosexuality.
In May 2012, Vladimir Putin became President of Russia again. Since then, a series of laws that impede the work of human rights defenders have been adopted and in the North Caucasus the human rights violations continue. Civil Rights Defenders have gathered some of the most prominent experts on the North Caucasus to talk about how human rights are affected by Vladimir Putin’s return to Presidency.
The North Caucasian republic of Dagestan is one of the most dangerous places for lawyers in Russia today. In this region, Sapiyat Magomedova defends victims of grave human rights violations; like enforced disappearances, extra judicial killings and torture. She has taken on cases that many lawyers would reject due to security reasons, and althought it is considered almost impossible, she has won several of them.
On the night between 3 and 4 November, Stanislav Dimitrievski’s family was exposed to an attack in their home. Masked and heavily armed men crushed the windows, encased with lead, with a special hammer. They also squirted glue into the lock on the apartment door to prevent the family from escaping. This is yet another reminder of the horrific situation for human rights defenders in Russia.
The situation for citizens and human rights defenders in the North Caucasus continue to deteriorate; grave human rights violations turn everyday life into a nightmare. In November 2012, Civil Rights Defenders gathers about 20 of the key human rights defenders from the region to the North Caucasus Conference. During a few intensive days in Stockholm we develop strategies to improve their security and to increase the awareness among decision makers in order to create real change.
Two of Civil Rights Defender’s partners have appealed the regional laws that prohibits ”propaganda for homosexuality” to the Russian Supreme Court. In the latest ruling, on 25 October, the Court decided in favor of the law in St Petersburg but stated that dissemination of information about lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender issues cannot be banned. The laws have already been used to clamp down on LGBT activists.
It only took a couple of minutes for the Russian Parliament to approve the controversial high treason bill, in its third and final reading, on 23 October 2012. The bill presents a fundamental threat to human rights in the country. The legislation is now awaiting approval in the Upper House before it is delivered to the President for signing.
In Russia the recently introduced regional laws on the so-called “promotion of homosexuality among minors” have been condemned by the human rights community. According to a report by Civil Rights Defenders partner, the Russian LGBT Network, they are also in conflict with the federal legislation. Read more in the report that also includes an overview of discrimination and hate crimes.
For the Belarusian organisations fighting for a democratic development in Europe’s last dictatorship, Human rights house in Vilnius provides some breathing space. Civil Rights Defenders supports the Human rights house because it is essential that the democracy movement can meet and talk freely, without fearing repercussions. Listen to Swedish Radio’s report from Vilnius (only in Swedish).
This year’s Per Anger-prize winner, Sapiyat Magomedov, is a human rights lawyer from Dagestan. In a context where the perpetrators seldom or never are brought to justice, she represents cases where people have been raped, tortured or murdered. In an opinion piece, published in Swedish newspaper SvD, Civil Rights Defenders and the Living History Forum presents Sapiyat Magomedova.
The human rights lawyer Sapiyat Magomedova has been awarded the Swedish Government’s Per Anger Prize. In the violent Dagestan, she defends victims of grave human rights violations. She has taken on cases that many lawyers would reject due to security reasons. And she has won legal cases in a context where it is almost impossible to do so. For people in the region she has become a symbol of courage.
On 18 October the human rights organisation Mothers of Dagestan celebrates five year as an organisation. This organisation places itself on the victim’s side in the armed conflict between the Russian government forces and the separatists and has been a partner of Civil Rights Defenders for several years.
Civil Rights Defenders expresses support for Minsk Gay Pride that will be held 5-11 October. “Minsk Gay Pride is a positive signal in a time of negative developments for the LGBT-movements in Eastern Europe”, says Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director.
Tanya Lokshina, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch in Moscow, has received a number of text messages to her mobile phone, which contained direct and indirect threats against her. The messages, received in the period September 28-30, included references to very personal details known only to Tanya and a few persons around her. The purpose was evidently to obstruct her work.
The Ukrainian parliament has in the first reading approved a bill to ban the positive depiction of homosexuality, permitting charges of up to 5 years in prison and hefty fines. “Unfortunately, this is a recent, growing tendency in the region, which shows no respect for basic human rights from the authorities and further promotes social exclusion and stigmatisation of the LGBT community.” said Joanna Kurosz at Civil Rights Defenders.
The information that the Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski was placed in solitary confinement turned out to be false. It is difficult to verify information from closed countries such as Belarus, since human rights defenders take a risk already by contacting somebody abroad. Civil Rights Defenders always try to double-check information like this, but sometimes that is not enough.
Last week, the Russian parliament voted for amendments to existing legislation that widens the legal definition of treason, equating it to espionage, and adds international organisations to the list of those that can be charged with high treason. If introduced, international organisations and foreign citizens can be charged with up to 20 years in prison for high treason.
On 21 September, the opening of House of Equality in Murmansk marked another stage of Civil Rights Defenders´ work for LGBT rights in Russia. House of Equality is a project made possible due to a newly established cooperation between the LGBT organisation Maximum in Murmansk and Civil Rights Defenders.
On Sunday 23 September Parliamentary elections are taking place in Belarus. In this Op-Ed, published in Swedish svd.se, Civil Rights Defenders urges the EU to adhere to its principles and insist on greater respect for human rights in order to stay on track.
20 September opens the fourth Queer culture festival that Civil Rights Defenders organises together with Coming out.“Queerfest increases positive visibility and contributes to overcoming negative stigma of LGBT people. This is crucial in a society where the public debate is permeated by homophobic statements and discussions.” says Cecilia Rosing at Civil Rights Defenders.
In recent months, several journalists have been arrested and harassed because of their work in Belarus. Lukashenka’s purpose is clear – to silence critical voices before the parliamentary elections on 23 September. View the seminar with Julia Slutskaya, Head of the Solidarity with Belarus Information Office in Warsaw, through our Bambuser channel.
The months after the Eurovision Song Contest have been marked by harassment of independent journalists. “The Azeri authorities’ unabashed threats against journalists and dissidents show not only that the regime lacks all respect for freedom of expression, but also suggest that they do not feel any pressure from abroad on this issue.” said Joanna Kurosz at Civil Rights Defenders.
Only weeks before the Parliamentary election on 23 September, the Belarusian Police conducted a countrywide crackdown on online dissent – arresting several opposition social media activists. Two young Internet activists were found guilty of hooliganism and sentenced to prison.
The three members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot were convicted of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred on Friday, and sentenced to two years in prison. At the same time, outside the Khamovnichesky district court many protesters, both for and against Pussy Riot, had gathered. Some of the protesters were singled out by the Police and arrested, according to several media reports.
On 17 August the Moscow court will hand down its verdict against three members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot. The prosecution has called for three-year prison sentences on charges of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred. Civil Rights Defenders is critical of the legal process and believes that the reaction from the authorities is a disproportionate response to Pussy Riot’s protest.
The diplomatic crisis that has evolved between Belarus and Sweden during the last couple of days will affect the Belarusian civil society: ”Regardless of what happens next, the Belarusian civil society will suffer”, says Robert Hårdh, Executive Director Civil Rights Defenders.
During Stockholm Pride we invited Anastasia Smirnova from our partner the Russian LGBT Network in St Petersburg. Anastasia Smirnova was interviewed in Swedish media about the negative development för lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender peoples rights in Russia and she also raised the topic in a seminar.
On 4 August the Belarusian human rights defender Ales Bialiatski has been in prison for one year. Civil Rights Defenders have no doubt that he was jailed for his human rights work, with the the aim also to intimidate other critics into silence. Civil Rights Defenders continues to demand the immediate release of Ales Bialiatski.
On 23 July 2012, in Nizhny Novgorod, local police detained human rights defender Stanislav Dmitrievsky and two other activists, for participating in a peaceful protest against the demolition of an historical building. Civil Rights Defenders urges the authorities to immediately release him and the two other activists.
The Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the controversial bill that brands NGOs that receive funding from abroad as “foreign agents”. Just before the summer holidays, the Russian State Duma has adopted a number of bills restricting freedom of expression and obstructing the work of the civil society. Civil Rights Defenders is very concerned by these negative developments.
In a joint letter, Civil Rights Defenders and five other human rights organisations call on The Upper House of the Parliament to reject the State Duma bill, amending the law “on the protection of children from information detrimental to their health and development”. The clauses are so vague that they might restrict freedom of expression on the Internet.
Just before the summer holidays, the Russian State Duma has adopted a number of bills, at a furious pace, restricting freedom of expression and obstructing the work of the civil society. Civil Rights Defenders is very concerned by these negative developments and call on the Russian President not to sign the bills.
After a concert in Belarus, Eurovision Song Contest winner Loreen met Natalia Pintjuk, the wife of imprisoned Ales Bialiatski, and several of the country’s prominent human rights defenders. Loreen heard testimony about abuses and restrictions on freedom of expression.
In a letter sent to the Acting Minister of interior Vladimir Kolokoltsev and Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika, Civil Rights Defenders and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee express their deepest concern about the security situation of Igor Kalyapin, the chairman of Committee Against Torture and urge the authorities to respect right to physical integrity.
Igor Kalyapin, chairman of Civil Rights Defender’s partner CAT, has been accused of disclosing state secrets. It is the third time that criminal proceedings are instigated against him. “It is obvious that the Russian authorities in Chechnya have a lot to hide when they attack human rights defenders that investigate serous human rights abuses in the republic”, said Joanna Kurosz at Civil Rights Defenders.
Six Russian LGBT-activists were detained during a peaceful demonstration in St. Petersburg on 7 July. “This is yet another discouraging indication of the persistent discrimination and violation of the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression of LGBT persons in Russia”, said Joanna Kurosz at Civil Rights Defenders.
In an open letter, on 6 July, Civil Rights Defenders and several other human rights organisations called on the Russian State Duma to reject the proposed legislative amendments branding NGOs funded from abroad “foreign agents” if they engage in broadly defined political activities.
Civil Rights Defenders is greatly concerned by the proposed amendments to the law on NGOs in Russia. “This proposal is another step in the wrong direction. Russia should support civil society rather than further obstruct the important work that NGOs are doing to advance democracy and human rights in the country”, says Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director at Civil Rights Defenders.
Natalia Estemirova was one of the leading human rights defenders in the North Caucasus. Working for Civil Rights Defender’s partner, Human Rights Centre Memorial, she investigated cases of grave human rights violations in Chechnya. In 2009 she was murdered. Her death is most likely connected to her human rights work, which many considered put her at risk.
On 4 August, Ales Bialiatski has been detained for a year. In our video report from Belarus Ales’ wife, Natalia Pinchuk, and his colleagues speak about their concern over political prisoners’ health. According to Valiantsin Stefanovich, vice president of the human rights organisation Viasna, prisoners are being subjected to torture and degrading treatment in the KGB prisons.
The pressure on alternative voices in Belarus has increased in recent time. According to the popular Belarusian broadcaster Euroradio there have been several cases where journalists have been targeted. On 22 June, Euroradio’s accredited journalist Pavel Sviardlou was detained and sentenced to 15 days of arrest for “disorderly conduct”.
In the beginning of May, Civil Rights Defenders brought two members of the Swedish Parliament, Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin and Björn von Sydow, to North Caucasus. Via the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly they have now asked about Russia’s responsibilites for people who have disappeared and the lack of protection of human rights defenders.
Ales Bialiatski has received reprimands in prison as well as being subjected to restrictive measures. Civil Rights Defenders is deeply concerned for Ales Bialiatski’s situation and urges the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenka to immediately and unconditionally release the Belarusian human rights defender, in an open letter sent on Thursday.
Civil Rights Defenders is greatly concerned about the security situation of Mr. Magomed Mutsolgov, head of the human rights organisation MASHR, and his colleagues. The Russian government must fulfill its responsibility to protect human rights defenders against any violence, retaliation and intimidation as a consequence of their work.
Five Russian journalists were imprisoned on 13 June, when they tried to demonstrate against threats directed to a colleague. The arrests are a direct result of a new law that obstructs freedom of assembly in Russia. “The international community must urge the Russian government to put an end to this negative trend”, says Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
In a letter to Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev, we protest against the arrest of photographer Mehman Huseynov, and the charges of hooliganism that were brought against him. If convicted, Huseynov risks a prison sentence of up to five years. We urge the authorities to ensure a safe working environment for the country’s human rights defenders.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Moldova violated the right to freedom of assembly and the prohibition of discrimination when a demonstration for LGBT people’s rights was banned in 2005. “We are very satisfied with this court ruling. It is a historic moment for the work for equal rights in Moldova”, said Åsa Bergqvist, Programme Officer at Civil Rights Defenders.
Azerbaijan gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and has since had a poor human rights record. The country is an authoritarian regime ruled by the Aliyev family. In 2009, Aliyev initiated a popular referendum, which resulted in the two-term limit on the presidency being removed. The parliamentary elections in 2010 were characterized by widespread fraud according to international observers. The country lacks independent media and the government severely limits the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
Three human rights lawyers from our partner the Joint Mobile Group were verbally abused by the Chechen authorities on June 1. In a letter sent to the Acting Minister of Interior and Prosecutor General in Russia, Civil Rights Defenders and the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, express serious concern over the safety of human rights defenders in Chechnya who are working in a culture of fear.
In a letter to the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation we express our concern over the threats that were directed at Mr. Rustam Matsev in Kabardino-Balkaria on May 31. We urge the Russian authorities to ensure that violence or intimidation against human rights defenders in Russia are fully and impartially investigated.
On May 31, a court in St Petersburg found the ban of the peaceful LGBT rallies on the Day of Silence and the International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia in contradiction with the law. Civil Rights Defenders welcomes the court ruling but point to the fact that this does not guarantee future rallies would not be banned.
1 June 2011 three men were convicted by the Vienna Landesgericht to long prison sentences for the killing of Chechen exile Umar Israilov, who was shot on the streets of Vienna in January 2009. Civil Rights Defenders urges the Austrian authorities to demand extradition of the murder suspect who remains a fugitive of justice.
Eight years ago Anastasia Danilova moved from Russia to Moldova to be with her girlfriend. Today, as the Executive Director of GENDERDOC-M, she uses her personal experience of being discriminated in the work for human rights. “I am ready to stand up for anybody’s rights, even of those who fight us, like religious minorities. I believe in justice, and equality is a prerequisite for justice.”
After her meetings with human rights activists in Azerbaijan, Swedish ESC winner Loreen has decided to become a member of Civil Rights Defenders to further support the work for human rights.
A new law prohibiting ”propaganda” for homosexuality was recently passed in St Petersburg’s local parliament. Similar laws have already been passed in Ryazan, Arkhangelsk and Kostroma, and there is a ongoing discussion about introducing propaganda laws on a federal level. Listen to Anastasia Smirnova and Alexandra Semenova about how the laws came about and how they affect the work for human rights, on Friday May 25.
Civil Rights Defenders has sent a letter to the Russian Prosecutor General to urge him call for a thorough and impartial investigation into the beating of Dagestani human rights lawyer Sapiyat Magomedova.
On her initiative, Loreen and Civil Rights Defenders will meet some of the brave people fighting for human rights in Azerbaijan on Monday, May 21. A reality differing substantially from the image the authorities wants to show of the country.
The International Ice Hockey Federation is currently holding its annual congress. We urge the Federation not to let Belarus’ ice hockey loving President Alexander Lukashenka arrange the Ice Hockey World Championship in Belarus in 2014, due to the unacceptable human rights situation in the country.
In a letter to the Prime Minister of Moldova we urge the government to adopt an anti-discrimination law in compliance with obligations under international human rights law. Civil Rights Defenders also support all the changes required by the Civic Group for Equality in their Public Appeal sent on May 15.
In a few weeks time, Moldova will adopt an anti-discrimination law as an important step towards EU integration. Last week the bill was changed and sexual orientation was removed from the list of grounds protected from discrimination in the first article of the draft law.
Two members of the Swedish Parliament, Marietta de Pourbaix-Lundin and Björn von Sydow, accompany us on a monitoring trip to the North Caucasus. By meeting human rights defenders they will be briefed on the human rights violations in the region.
At a May 1 demonstration, 17 LGBT activits were targeted and arrested by the police in S:t Petersburg. They have now been released but this event once more raises concern. We call on the S:t Petersburg and Russian federal authorities to respect LGBT activists’ right to peaceful protest.
Ales Bialiatski, human rights defender and chairman of the organisation Viasna, was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for tax evasion. His colleague, Viasna’s vice chair, Valjantsin Stefanovitj, has been charged twice. On 25 april he participates in a seminar about political prisoners in Belaus.
On 5 April 2012 two human rights defenders were attacked in Moscow on their way home shortly after midnight. We urge the authorities to investigete the attacks and do everything in their power to guarantee the safety of human rights defenders.
The situation of press in Moldova has improved in the past year, as a positive effect of a general improvement of the legal and political situation in the country. That is the conclusion of the media report that we are publishing together with Independent Journalism Centre.
Late evening on March 24 the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society was attacked by two unknown persons who tried to set their office in Nizhny Novgorod on fire. Overall the situation for human rights defenders in the city has aggravated since the Duma elections in December 2011.
Kavalyou and Kanavalau were recently executed, after having been denied reprieve by the Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko. “Death penalty is an inhumane punishment that should not be applied in any country”, says Joanna Kurosz at Civil Rights Defenders.
In the past week, several Belarusian human rights defenders were stopped at the border and denied departure from Belarus. A total of almost ten journalists and human rights activists had to turn back from the border with the words “denied exit” in their passports.
The local parliament in St. Petersburg has voted for a law prohibiting “propaganda” for homosexuality. Civil Rights Defenders has over the years arranged a LGBT conference with some 100 participants and seen our partner became the first registered LGBT organisation in the country. We have also arranged Queer Culture Festivals and other events in Russia. The new law is a setback in the work for LGBT people’s rights.
Benedicte Berner, Vice Head of Civil Rights Defenders board and media analyst with focus on Russia, is monitoring the media situation during the Presidential election. Hear her speak about the media climate on March 9.
In the week prior to the Russian presidential election, a number of human rights defenders in the North Caucasus were subjected to harassment, threats and violence. “They struggle to put an end to the prevailing impunity at the same time as they are persecuted by the authorities”, said Ninke Liebert at Civil Rights Defenders.
Listen to Stanislav Dmitrievsky, chair of the Russian-Chechnya Friendship Association, and Robert Hårdh, Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders, speak about the possibilities to identify and bring war criminals to the court.
Due to illness we have to cancel the seminar on February 22. We apologise for this!
The quality of new laws in Moldova is unsatisfying and at the same time the legislative inflation is rising. Lack of transparency in the legislative process is another great problem, according to the corruption risk analysis by Civil Rights Defenders and Centre for Analysis and Prevention of Corruption.
On 8 February, the regional parliament in St. Petersburg voted for a law banning “homosexual propaganda” in a second round. Civil Rights Defenders protests against the discriminatory law, which is one step from being introduced.
Five years have passed since Svetlana Isayeva’s, at that time, 25-year old son ”disappeared”. In Dagestan, where the war against terrorism affects an increasing number of civilians, Svetlana, together with at group of others who have also lost someone dear, founded Mothers of Dagestan for human rights; an organisation that is on the victim’s side in the armed conflict between the Russian government forces and the separatists.
“Ales just did his job, and when human right activists in Belarus today do their job they will end up in prison” said Joanna Kurosz from Civil Rights Defenders when speaking during a manifestation in support of Ales Bialiatski, in Stockholm on January 31 2011.
A year has passed since the Presidental election in Belarus and a wave of persecutions of human rights defenders, independent media actors and political opponents, has followed in its tracks. On the January 25, Anna Gerasimova, Director of the Belarusian Human Rights House in Vilnius, will visit us to talk about the current human rights situation in Belarus.
On January 24, the Minsk city court upheld the 4.5-year verdict against Ales Bialiatski, Chair of Human Rights Centre Viasna. ”The Belarusian regime is using the process against Ales Bialiatski to silence human rights defenders in the country, said Joanna Kurosz at Civil Rights Defenders.
On January 20, the criminal proceeding for libel against Oleg Orlov, Chairman of our partner Memorial, was discontinued. “We welcome the fact that libel has been decriminalised in Russia, which prevents similar proceedings against human rights defenders in the future”, said Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director at Civil Rights Defenders.
Igor Kalyapin, chairman of our Russian partner Committee against Torture, has been accused of disclosing state secrets and risks several years in prison if he will be trialed. “Igor Kalyapin is among the most courageous human rights defenders in Russia today, said Joanna Kurosz at Civil Rights Defenders.
“I have a feeling that this trial was necessary in order to check whether we have been doing the right thing during all these 15 years”, said human rights defenders Ales Bialiatski the day after he was sentenced to four and a half years in prison on November 24, 2011. Harassment of human rights defenders is more of a rule rather than an exception in Belarus.
According to a new amendment Belarusians can be fined EUR 100 for visiting a banned website, among them the site of Viasna. -This is another step taken by Alexander Lukashenka’s regime to suppress freedom of speech on the internet, said Joanna Kurosz, at Civil Rights Defenders.
In December, Civil Rights Defenders organised a workshop on the new freedom of expression law for judges in Moldova. The aim was to improve understanding of how the new legislation should be interpreted and applied by magistrates who work with these types of cases. “Strengthening the legal system is central, because that’s where the rights are protected”, commented Percy Bratt, chairman of Civil Rights Defenders board and one of the trainers, afterwards.
On December 15th the founder of the Dagestani independent newspaper Chernovik, Gadzhimurad Kamalov, was shot to death by a masked gunman. The murder represents yet another serious blow to independent journalism and freedom of speech in the violent republic of Dagestan.
(Updated December 2011) The overall situation in Belarus seemed to remain on a stable, negative level during 2009 and 2010 with small improvements as a result of the dialogue between Belarus and the EU. However, since the elections on December 19, 2010, the human rights situation has hit an all time low with a massive, [...]
On November 29 Ales Bialiatski, Chair of Viasna, appealed the verdict of the Pershamaiski District Court in Minsk, sentencing him to four and a half years in prison and confiscation of property for tax evasion. Civil Rights Defenders believes that the decision is a pretext for the regime to silence human rights defenders.
The legislative assembly of St. Petersburg has decided to postpone the hearing of the anti-gay bill for the second time. “Protesters all over the world have shown that this is not a bill that belongs in a European country in 2011″, said Ninke Liebert, at Civil Rights Defenders.
A court in Chisinau has convicted a website for hate speech against LGBT people. The case is an important step forward in the work for equal rights in Moldova, and demonstrates that incitement to discrimination and violence will not be tolerated.
Civil Rights Defenders and Östgruppen condemn the verdict against Ales Bialiatski, Chairperson of Human Rights Centre Viasna. A protest letter was submitted to the Belarusian Embassy in Stockholm on November 25.
Ales Bialiatski, Chariman of the human rights organisation Viasna, was sentenced for tax evasion to four and a half years in prison and confiscation of property. An unacceptable verdict according to Civil Rights Defenders.
A new anti-gay bill was accepted at a first reading in the regional parliament of Saint Petersburg. We protest against the bill since it severely limits the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. You can do that too, by signing a petition.
In the North Caucasus impunity for grave human rights violations, committed by law enforcement agents on the pretext of combating terrorism, is widespread and requires prompt and independent investigations. Together with the Interregional Committee Against Torture we support the Joint Mobile Group, whose members travel to Chechnya to monitor and investigate the most serious human rights violations.
The North Caucasus has remained the most troubled region in Russia in regard to human rights. The long-term goal for our cooperation with Russian Justice Initiative (RJI) is to combat impunity for human rights abuses in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, and to promote respect for rights enshrined in the Russian Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights.
At the first day of the trial against human rights defender Ales Bialiatski, the Belarusian authorities used extraordinary precautions to prevent people from attending the hearing at the Maskouski district court. Journalists without ID’s were not allowed entrance to the court hall. Two persons, wearing T-shirts with the inscription “Freedom to Ales Bialiatski!”, were removed [...]
Representatives from human rights organisations, including Civil Rights Defenders, have been denied visa for travel to Belarus and cannot attend the trial of Ales Bialiatski. The fact that Belarus is closing the borders for international observers reinforces our concern that Ales Bialiatski will not get a fair and just trial.
The investigation of Natalia Estemirova’s murder continues along a false path, according to an independent report by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), Memorial and Novaya Gazeta.
Our colleagues in the North Caucasus risk their lives to defend the rights of others. One of our most important tasks is to improve their security situation, as well as the security of other human rights defenders around the world.
The Executive Committee of Minsk City banned the Pride parade, despite the fact that President Alexander Lukashenko had said that he is not against a parade, if it is organised in the outskirts of the city.
In a joint statement, we urge the upper chamber of the Belarusian Parliament to quash the recent legislative amendments that impose limitations on freedom of assembly and association and severely restrict the work of Belarusian civil society groups.
Human rights defenders in the North Caucasus live in constant danger. In 2009 Natalia Estemirova was murdered because of her work. Her collegue Oleg Orlov risked prison because he accused the Chechnyan President Ramzan Kadyrov of being responsible for her murder. Kadyrov had threathened Estemirova earlier. Through our Emergency fund will we be able to offer support in specifically vulnerable and urgent situations.
In 2009-2010 Moldova saw improvements in terms of human rights. However, several grave problems remain. Moldova has no law against discrimination and persons with disabilities, sexual minorities, elderly, women and ethnic and religious minorities often face discrimination.
On October 11, the International Day of Coming Out, Pride was opening in Minsk. “A provocation for those who do not want to recognize the political rights of LGBT people”, said Siarhei Androsenka, from Minsk Gay Pride.
On October 7 it has been five years since the murder of Anna Politkovskaja and no one has been convicted. “The Russian authorities send very clear signals that you should not dig into irregularities if you don’t want to get in trouble”, said Robert Hårdh, in an interview with Göteborgsposten.
The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia responsible for the enforced disappearance of a Chechen man in October 2004. The judgment is an important result of our cooperation with Russian Justice Initiative.
(Updated in October 2011) Moldova is a country in political and constitutional crisis. Moldova held parliamentary elections twice in 2009 and once in November 2010. The results of the elections show a country that is almost evenly divided between the Communist Party, on the one hand, and pro-Western parties on the other. The pro-Western parties [...]
September 15, the Third International Queer Culture Festival opened in St. Petersburg. The ceremony attracted many visitors, despite protests from religious youth groups.
Uladzimir Labkovich, legal adviser at Human Rights Center Viasna, was detained in Minsk in connection to a manifestation in support of Ales Bialiatski, on September 25. The arrest is yet another example of the harassment of Viasna employees.
The Arkhangelsk Oblast Council of Deputies has passed amendments and additions to the regional law, stating that public actions aimed at promotion of homosexuality among minors are not allowed. We consider the law to be discriminatory and violating the fundamental principle of equality of rights of all people.
The case against Ales Bialiatski is directly connected to the human rights work of Viasna, the most prominent human rights organisation in Belarus. Viasna has been denied registration by the authorities on several occasions but continues to work for the rights of the people. According to Belarusian legislation it is illegal to work for an [...]
We are deeply concerned about the widespread human rights violations in the aftermath of the presidential elections, said Civil Rights Defenders and several other human rights organisations in a statement to the Human Rights Council today.
Together with our partner, Coming Out, we arrange the third international Queer Culture Festival, September 15-25. The festival takes place in St Petersburg with the goal to support the right to self-expression, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity.
On September 13 Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat is visiting Sweden. Civil Rights Defenders urges the Swedish Government to bring up the proposed Law against discrimination to discussion.
A month has passed since the arrest of Ales Bialiatski, president of the Human Rights Centre Viasna. Bialiatski was arrested in Minsk on August 4, and remains in detention on charges of tax evasion.
In collaboration with Memorial Human Rights Center, Civil Rights Defenders monitor human rights violations and provide legal aid to victims and their family members in order to end impunity and strengthen the rule of law in the North Caucasus.
On the 12th of August Ales Bialiatski, chair of the Human Rights Center Viasna, was officially charged with “Concealment of profits on an especially large scale” (Paragraph 2, Article 243 of the Belarusian Criminal Code) and his detention has been prolonged by two months.
Civil Rights Defenders in a coalition of international human rights organisations, are deeply concerned about the arrest of Ales Bialiatski on allegations of large-scale tax evasion. We sent a petition to the Belarusian prosecutor’s office asking to release Ales pending the investigation against him.
On 4 August 2011, Ales Bialiatski, Chair of the Human Rights Center Viasna in Belarus, was detained in Minsk. We call upon the Belarusian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ales Bialiatski and to stop the criminal persecution of human rights defenders, journalists, lawyers and activists in Belarus.
Ales Bialiatski, chair of the human rights organisation Viasna, was arrested on August 4th by the Belarus Department of Financial Investigations, suspected of gross tax evasion. According to Belarusian law he risks up to seven years imprisonment.
Ales Bialiatski, chair of the human rights organisation Viasna, was arrested today. Very little is known at the moment about where he is held and the reasons for his arrest.
On July 31, sixteen peaceful protesters were arrested at a rally for freedom of assembly in Nizhny Novgorod. The same day several dozen people were also arrested in Moscow and Saint Petersburg. We call for the immediate release of all peaceful protesters.
Human Rights Defenders and LGBT activists from all over the world gather in Stockholm during Pride. We have invited ten activists from six countries with the aim to support their struggle against discrimination and their quest for the rights that some of us take for granted.
In Russia, LGBT persons are being discriminated in daily life and in law. Together with the Russian organisation Coming Out, Civil Rights Defenders organises an annual Queer Culture Festival in St. Petersburg.
Civil Rights Defenders and several other human rights organizations call for a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the murder of Natalia Estemirova. July 15 is the second anniversary of her death and Russian authorities have not brought anyone to justice for the murder.
Several human rights organizations including Civil Rights Defenders condemn the recent arrests of peaceful demonstrators in Belarus. We call upon the Belarusian authorities to immediately release all detained protesters and respect the right to freedom of assembly to all its citizens.
Civil Rights Defenders is concerned about the threats against Olga Sadovskaya at the Committee Against Torture in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia. In a letter sent to Swedish and European policymakers we ask them to raise the threats against human rights defenders in all discussions with Russia.
Ninke Liebert, handläggare på Civil Rights Defenders, deltar i Sveriges Radios Konflikt lördagen den 18 juni klockan 09.00-10.00. I programmet diskuteras situationen i Norra Kaukasus.
Civil Rights Defenders and Nondiscrimination Coalition urge the Government and the Parliament of Moldova to adopt an anti-discrimination law. In a joint letter, we require the Moldovan Prime Minister to put an end to homophobic statements in public debate.
On June 14 a Russian court acquitted Oleg Orlov, Chairperson of Memorial Human Rights Centre, on charges of libel against Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.
Four new rulings by the European Court of Human Rights confirm Russia’s reluctance to effectively investigate serious human rights violations in Chechnya. The cases have been brought before the court by Civil Rights Defenders together with Russian Justice Initiative.
Civil Rights Defenders calls on the senior EU officials participating at the EU-Russia summit in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia, to address the pressing situation for human rights defenders working in Russia.
Civil Rights Defenders is deeply concerned about the recent attack on the human rights defender Bakhrom Khamroev, staff member of the well known human rights organisation Memorial in Russia. Bakhrom Khamroev was seriously beaten by unidentified men outside his apartment in Moscow on June 6th.
On June 1 the Criminal Court in Vienna sentenced three men for murder of the Chechen refugee Umar Israilov who was assassinated in Vienna on January 13 in 2009.The trial highlights the prevalence of violence and the arbitrariness in the Chechen judiciary.
A coalition of human rights organisations, among them Civil Rights Defenders, regrets Russia’s lack of cooperation with the Austrian judiciary, in the case against the alleged murderers of Chechen refugee Umar Israilov. A verdict is expected June 1st.
Violations committed against Roma people in Moldova are seldom properly investigated nor are the persons responsible prosecuted. Together with the Roma National Center, Civil Rights Defenders provides free legal assistance, identifies and document victims of human rights infringements, monitor trials with the aim to contribute to reducing discrimination against Roma and to increase their access to justice.
Former presidential candidates Mikalai Statkevich and Dmitzry Us have been sentenced to six and five and a half years of imprisonment respectively for organising mass riots. The political opposition is being effectively dismantled by the Belarusian regime.
In order to contribute to a higher observance of the European Convention in Moldova, Civil Rights Defenders cooperate with Lawyers for Human Rights in translating the jurisprudence of the European Court concerning Moldova into Romanian language.
(Updated in May 2011) The overall human rights climate in Russia remains very negative. Russia is a highly corrupt country at all official levels, which undermines the observance of the rule of law. Russia is also ranked among the top ten of the most dangerous countries in the world, and has undergone a massive rise [...]
Colorful balloons rose to the sky during the flashmob, held at the same spot where a bus with Pride participants was attacked three years ago.
Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will visit Stockholm on April 27. In connection to his visit we urge Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to discuss with him the difficult situation that human rights defenders in Russia are facing. During the 2009 EU summit Reinfeldt raised this issue with President Medvedev and there is cause for [...]
Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will visit Stockholm on April 27. We urge Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt to discuss with him the difficult situation that human rights defenders in Russia are facing. During the 2009 EU summit Reinfeldt raised this issue with President Medvedev and there is cause for a follow-up.
Civil Rights Defenders is concerned about the continued harrassment and intimidation of human rights defenders in Russia. Igor Kalyapin, head of our Russian partner organisation Committee Against Torture, along with nearly forty others, were arbitrarily arrested on March 31, 2011.
Civil Rights Defenders is deeply concerned over the latest developments connected to the proposed anti-discrimination law in Moldova. The Moldovan government has now withdrawn the bill from the parliament.
The Russian Constitutional Court has ruled that the State cannot institutionalise a person with disabilities if there is no one who can become their guardian in the community. The two cases behind this decision were lodged in cooperation between MDAC, IPAR and Civil Rights Defenders.
In an open letter to Moldovan MP’s we call for a swift adoption of the anti-discrimination law.
Civil Rights Defenders has signed a petition together with other NGOs to urge the UN Human Rights Council to adopt a resolution on Belarus. We think it is of outmost importance that the Council unequivocally condemns the human rights violations that took place after the Belarusian Presidential election in December 2010.
Russian authorities need to investigate a case of disappearance and torture in Chechnya and punish those responsible, Human Rights Watch, Front Line, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), and Civil Rights Defenders said today.
According to a newly released report, the behaviour of the Belarusian authorities after the Presidential election in December, 2010, shows that the Belarusian Government does not fulfill the country’s obligations regarding freedom of expression and freedom of assembly.
In an open letter to the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko we urge the authorities to repeal the warning against Ales Bialiatski and to refrain from further pressure on human rights defenders.
Our cooperation with the Russian Justice Initiative has so far resulted in 100 convictions against Russia in the European Court of Human Rights. Overall, Russia has been convicted 160 times for gross human rights violations in the North Caucasus. Most cases that we have conducted in the European Court date from 2002. But the brutality [...]
Ales Bialiatski, President of the human rights organisation “Viasna”, was officially warned by the General Prosecutor’s Office for alleged violation of Article 193.1. The General Prosecutor’s Office also made clear that continued activities could lead to prosecution.
The European Court has found Russia responsible for the deaths of two Chechen men and the disappearance of one. These two latest verdicts mean that Russia has been convicted of serious human rights violations in 100 cases, as a result of our cooperation with Russian Justice Initiative.
If the Belarusian dictator regime is going to land in democratic reforms, Sweden and the EU must keep the pressure on Lukashenka and not bargain with him with something that does not belong to him – the rights of his citizens, writes Robert Hårdh, executive director at Civil Rights Defenders, in a op-ed on Dagens Arena.
On Monday the 17th of January the Committee for State Security, KGB, searched the Human Rights Centre Viasna for the third time in just one month. Events related to the Belarusian election on the 19th of December 2010 were stated as reasons in the search warrant. Ales Bialiatski, President of Human Rights Centre Viasna, was taken by the KGB but released the same day.
Civil Rights Defenders and RFSL invite you to a seminar on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people’s rights in Russia In 2010, LGBT organisations (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) were denied registration. Organisations and activists have been assaulted, which the police ignores. At the same time, the Queer Culture Festival in St. Petersburg in September [...]
We appeal to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Participating States to condemn the human rights violations in Belarus that have followed the presidential elections of December 19, 2010. Read more and sign the appeal.
Our Human Rights Lawyer Goran Miletic calls for Serbian authorities to react upon the violations of basic human rights in Belarus, in a blog published in Pescanik on 23 December 2010.
The harassment of human rights organisations, independent media and political opposition continued during the Christmas holidays. Several raids were conducted by KGB of both offices and apartments belonging to civil and political activists.
Together with a number of organisations, we strongly condemn the crackdown on demonstrators, arrests and beatings of journalists, human rights defenders and opposition candidates, which happened in the aftermath of the Presidential elections on 19 December 2010 in Belarus.
Vladimir Nyaklyaeu, Lukashenko’s biggest challenger, was severely beaten, and taken to hospital with a concussion on Sunday night. Later that night, a group of men stormed into his hospital room, wrapped him in a blanket and abducted him. We follow the developments in Belarus with great concern.
On Sunday December 19, a presidential election is held in Belarus, Europe’s last dictatorship. On the surface this election is more democratic than the previous ones. But appearances are deceptive – the improvements achieved are only cosmetic. Read our op-ed article in Svenska Dagbladet on 19 December.
Even though the state-owned media became more accessible to the candidates compared to previous elections; the attention was still focused on one candidate, the incumbent, and other candidates and parties were marginalized according to the latest report of the Belarusian Association of Journalists’ (BAJ) report.
Support our petition to the President of Belarus. We urge the President to fulfil the country’s obligations i regard to the respect of human rights.
Together with a group of human rights organisations we urge the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to follow-up on the human rights situation in the North Caucasus.
In recent years, Islamist insurgents have been particularly active in Dagestan. On March 29 two suicide attacks were carried out in the Moscow metro in the middle of morning rush hour, killing 40 people and wounding dozens; the suicide bombers were from Dagestan. In response, the authorities have continued to commit serious violations of basic [...]
In order to strengthen Belarusian citizens access to justice Civil Rights Defenders want to raise awareness of Belarusian Lawyers and activists on human rights and International Standards. To do this, a series of seminars on various rights is conducted within the framework of the project.
The cooperation between Russian Justice Initiative and Civil Rights Defenders aims at highlighting the failure of the rule of law in Russia by taking legal approaches to secure legal remedies and reparations for victims of serious human rights abuses committed during the conflict in Chechnya and other North Caucasus republics, such as extraordinary killings, torture and enforced disappearances.
On Thursday the 21st of October, EU diplomats agreed on a continuation of EU sanctions against Belarusian authorities. The sanctions were introduced in 2006, after violence and election-rigging in relation to the presidential elections, and included a travel ban to the EU for leading Belarusian officials.
Human rights defenders in the North Caucasus live under constant threat. They fear for their lives and the lives and health of their families. Civil Rights Defenders has initiated the Stockholm Process so that they can continue their important work.
Civil Rights Defenders has adopted a resolution on the establishment of the Natalia Estemirova Documentation Center together with a group of nine leading Russian and international human rights organizations.
The 19th of December the presidential elections will take place in Belarus. Together with our Belarusian colleagues we will monitor the situation extra carefully during the remaining two months.
A series of coordinated inspections of around 40 NGOs, unprecedented in its scale and intensity, were carried out in Russia between the 13th and 16th of September.
Joanna Kurosz, programme director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Civil Rights Defenders, will participate as moderator in the Conference of Human Rights Defenders in Belarus and the Baltic States. Around 70 Belarusian Human Rights Defenders will attend the conference together with 80 other participants from the Baltic countries, Western Balkans, Caucasus, Eastern Europe, [...]
In September our colleagues at the Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) are celebrating their 15th anniversary. The organisation is open not only for journalist but also for other people who contribute to journalistic activity and free distribution of information.
The trial against Oleg Orlov, chairperson of our partner organization Memorial in Russia, started with serious violations. Civil Rights Defenders considers this to be another sign that the courts in Russia are politically controlled.
Despite all the obstacles, the International Festival of Queer Culture opened successfully on September 16. In the last minute, the organisers had been forced to find a new location for the opening ceremony and the photo exhibition.
On September 3rd Aleh Byabenin was found dead in his country house. The first investigation considers suicide even though Aleh’s family and friends suggest that there was nothing in his behavior or in his life that points towards a suicide.
EU could positively influence relations with Belarus and improve the image of the Dialogue Period among Belarusian citizens by providing more feedback on what is going on, and thereby making the dialogue process more transparent, says a group of NGO:s.
LGBT persons face daily discrimination in Russia, both in daily life as well as by legislation. Civil Rights Defenders cooperate with the St Petersburg based organisation Coming Out to increase the understanding for LGBT persons. One activity this year is to organise an an international Queer Culture Festival in St Petersburg in September.
In mid September the second international queer culture festival takes place in St Petersburg. The aim is to put focus on the right to be who you are, and to encourage people to think outside the box. Our support to the LGBT movement in Russia is showing results.
The European Court of Human Rights has found Russia responsible for the disappearance and torture of a Chechen man detained at his home by Russian federal troops in year 2000. The victims family was awarded 106,000 EUR in respect of material and moral damages.
In cooperation with more than 50 Belarusian and international organisations Civil Rights Defenders regularly compile reports regarding the human rights situation in Belarus. The reports are sent to EU parliamentarians and other decision makers in the wake of their discussions about the relations between EU and Belarus.
Fundamental civil and political rights remain seriously restricted. The persecution of independent journalists and human rights defenders will most likely intensify on the eve of the Presidential elections, according to our latest report.
During 2009 the human rights situation in North Caucasus worsened significantly and in order to maintain presence on the ground, a group of human rights NGOs decided to organize mobile visits to the region, especially Chechnya, monitoring and reporting on human rights violations. Human rights defenders will be offered training in security awareness when going on missions to North Caucasus.
Within the Russian society people with mental disabilities are marginalised and excluded from almost every aspect of life. In cooperation with Mental Disability Advocacy Centre, Civil Rights Defenders lobby towards the Russian authorities to prompt them to comply with national and international legislation.
Seven Belarusian LGBT-activists were recently fined for participating in a demonstration for the rights of sexual minorities. It is unacceptable that these people’s basic rights are not respected, says Robert Hårdh, Executive Director of Civil Rights Defenders.
In the near future a trial will be held in Vienna against two of the Chechen President’s employees, suspected of the murder of refugee Umar Israilov. Civil Rights Defenders and several other human rights organisations call on the Russian authorities to closely follow the trial.
From April 29th until May 2nd Gay Pride is arranged in Moldova. A demonstration on Sunday May 2nd has been forbidden with reference to protests from religious and other groups. The event will be an important test for the new coalition government Alliance for European Integration.
In March, two prisoners were executed in Belarus, despite ongoing negotiations with the Council of Europe on the introduction of a moratorium. According to the United Nations Human Rights Committee Belarus is acting in breach of its international obligations, Viasna says.
Civil Rights Defenders, together with over 50 other human rights organisations, condemn the Belarus execution of Andrei Zhuk and Vasily Yuzepchuk.
Documentation of human rights violations is crucial in the struggle to put an end to impunity and to strengthen the rule of law. In cooperation with Memorial we now seeks to establish an archive of human rights violations, consisting of all of their collected materials in North Caucasus.
Civil Rights Defenders and three other human rights organisations urge Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenka to stop harassment of those defending human rights in Belarus.
Four leading human rights defenders in Belarus were arrested on Tuesday afternoon following a demonstration against the death penalty. The protest was a response to the unexpected execution of two men on death row last week.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Russia must pay a record compensation to a man with mental disabilities who has been illegally detained. This is a great victory for us and our partner Mental Disability Advocacy Center.
A year after Belarus imposed a law regulating mass media the legal basis for free media to act in Belarus is decisively weakened. The positive changes in the media field were neither systematic nor definitive.
Civil Rights Defenders cooperates with European Radio for Belarus to support access to information for the Belarusian people. Our cooperation also aims at assisting a new generation of journalists, who will be able to work professionally in Belarus in the future.
In January 2010 the human rights organization Viasna and the Belarusian Helsinki Committee launched the campaign “Human rights defenders against death penalty.” The campaign aims to disseminate objective information and in the long term work for abolition of the death penalty.
The situation in Chechnya has been characterised by grave human rights abuses, including forced disappearances, extra judicial killings and torture. Together with RJI, Civil Rights Defenders launch legal proceedings before Russian institutions and the European Court of Human Rights and provide direct legal consultations for victims and their relatives on ways of defending their rights.
In May 2010 Belarus will be inquired by the UN Human Rights Council under the Universal Periodic Review, UPR. Belarus has for a long time been criticized by both the UN and other international bodies for violations of fundamental human rights. The Belarusian authorities’ reaction to the criticism has been weak. Meanwhile, the country wants [...]
In the end of 2009 there was a break in the trend as the authorities initiated a reform process of Moldovan media. 2010 is however predicted to be a year of trials, according to a report that we have published in cooperation with Independent Journalism Centre.
The European Court of Human Rights has ruled against Russia to pay EUR 120,000 in damages to the families of two Chechen men, Zurab Iriskhanov and Abu Aliyev, who were arrested in their homes in Samashki and Grozny in 2002 and have not returned since.
The Russian authorities should investigate the arbitrary detention of three human rights advocates in Chechnya and hold those responsible accountable, Amnesty International, Civil Rights Defenders, Front Line, and Human Rights Watch said today.
The purpose of Civil Rights Defenders support to the Human Rights House in Vilnius is to provide Belarusian human rights defenders a safe place to plan and carry out activities. In the house in exile they can have seminars, meetings and other activities that cannot be conducted inside Belarus due to the difficult political situation.
In cooperation with the Russian LGBT Network, Civil Rights Defenders support LGBT groups and organisations all over Russia with capacity building, legal counselling and organisational development. Although Russia has taken some very important steps in the right direction, discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity is widely spread in the society.
The Belarusian Association of Journalists (BAJ) expresses concern over the media situation in Belarus before the local elections in April. It will be very difficult for the few independent media that exists in the country to provide objective information after threats to close down media from the Media Ministry.
Russia has ratified protocol 14 of the European Convention, which aims at making the work of the court more effective. This is an important step which, in the long run, will shorten processing times for the hundreds of thousands that have turned to the court asking for justice.
Belarusian Ministry of Justice accuses the independent Association of Journalists, BAJ, of breaking the laws. One can only speculate if this is a consequence of BAJ’s increasingly successful lobbying, says Erik Esbjörnson at Civil Rights Defenders.
During 2009, the regime has once again imprisoned political prisoners. The authorities continue to deny state registration to political parties and non-governmental organisations and foreign journalists are refused accreditation.
The Moldovan newspaper Ziarul de Garda (ZdG) and its employees have been subjected to several threats after publishing reports on corruption. We, and several media and human rights organisations, call on the Moldovan authorities to investigate the alleged threats.
People in Chechnya must not be left without access to justice. In a joint statement with several other human rights organisations we underline our obligation to continue to act against human rights violations in the North Caucasus and to ensure that perpetrators are brought to justice.
Read more about the human rights situation in Belarus in the report from the human rights organisation Viasna.
According to the European Court of Human Rights Russia bears responsibility for six forced disappearances in Chechnya in 2003. All six men were detained illegally and must be presumed dead.
-We welcome the accreditation of European Radio for Belarus. We hope this will mark a breach in the Belarusian authorities policy of clamping down on independent media and that they will take further steps towards ensuring freedom of expression in Belarus, said Robert Hårdh, executive director at Civil Rights Defenders.
Civil Rights Defenders is one of the organisers of the Human Rights Forum, Scandinavia’s largest forum for human rights. During this years event we will participate with the exhibition Our Rights and arrange several seminars on different topics. Civil Rights Defenders program for Human Rights Forum: Monday November 16 11.00-11.30: Film “Missing Lives: Disappearance and [...]
The Moldovan Supreme Court has decided that the Main Tax Inspectorate has to disclose information to the media organisation Association of Independent Press. It is a positive trend that Moldovan courts to a greater extent defend the right to information.
Oksana Tjelysjeva är verksam inom Rysk-tjetjenska vänskapsförbundet och kolumnist för den oberoende tidningen Novaja Gazeta. Usam Bajsajev arbetar för den ryska människorättsorganisationen Memorial, som i år tilldelats det prestigefulla Sacharovpriset. Ingmar Oldberg är Rysslandsexpert och associerad forskare vid Utrikespolitiska institutet. Robert Hårdh är chef för Civil Rights Defenders. Martin Uggla är ordförande i Östgruppen för [...]
One year ago the European Union temporarily lifted the travelban on Belarusian politicians and civil servants, hoping that this would lead to an improved human rights situation in the country. In November the future of the sanctions will be decided. Fifty international and Belarusian organisations recommend, in a new report, that EU keeps the travelban [...]
Despite an extremely vulnerable security situation in the North Caucasus, there are courageous people who dare to stand up for the rights of others – without a thought of their own safety. Read about the situation in North Caucasus in: Human rights at risk in North Caucasus
Russia is urged by the UN Human Rights Committee to strengthen the protection for persons with disabilities. An important source of information was the shadow report that our partner Mental Disability Rights Foundation presented in October.
In the fourth report about the human rights situation in Belarus, Belarusian and international organisations urge the EU to prolong the temporary cancelation of sanctions in order to achieve permanent changes.
Some of Russia’s leading human rights defenders gathered in Stockholm to discuss the situation in North Caucasus. Read their recommendations to the EU and the Swedish Presidency.
This month’s seminar is temporarily moved to the afternoon and The Royal Coin Cabinett (Myntkabinettet)! Since this summer the human rights situation in North Caucasus has deteriorated dramatically. After the murder of the prominent human rights defender Natalja Estemirova in July, harrasments of human rights defenders have increased and several people have been murdered. Who [...]
Maksharip Aushev, former opposition leader and former owner of dissident website Ingushetia.ru, was killed today in Kabardino-Balkaria.
The pressure on russian human rights activists are increasing. On Tuesday a court in Moscow sentenced the human rights organization Memorial and it’s Director Oleg Orlov for defamation of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov. Memorial and Oleg Orlov will have to pay 70 000 rubles, about 18 000 SEK. – The sentence against Orlov and Memorial [...]
The Belarusian government’s policies have remained largely unchanged since the last monitoring report was released in March 2009. While isolated concessions were made to the political opposition and civil society that allowed them carry out some activities without harassment, repressive measures remained in place and continued to be enforced on a selective basis. No changes [...]
International Media and Press Freedom Organisations jointly call for reforms and the removal of restrictions on the media in the Republic of Belarus.
In Moscow, the first court hearing is held today against Oleg Orlov, chairman of the Russian human rights organisation Memorial. The trial against Orlov is brought by the Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, who is suing Orlov for 10 million rubles (approximately 2,5 million SEK) for the statements Orlov made following the murder of Natalia Estemirova. [...]
Belarus continues to punish the country’s human rights defenders. On July 16, the Belarusian human rights defender and lawyer Leanid Svetsik was sentenced to a huge fine. Svetsik has for several years been working with legal aid to human rights activists in the city of Vitebsk, who had received letters with threats from members of the Nazi-organization Russian National Unity.
The famous award-winning human rights defender Natalia Estemirova was kidnapped this morning in the vicinity of her residence in Chechnya’s capital Grozny. She was forced into a white car and driven away by unknown persons. Natalia Estemirova is a leading activist in the Russian human rights organization Memorial, which is a partner of the Swedish [...]
The Russian government must follow the principles of rule of law even when combating serious crimes, seven human rights organisations, including the Swedish Helsinki Committee, says in a joint statement. The organisations urge the authorities to take effective measures to prevent human rights violations after the recent unrest in the Caucasus. In June, the Interior [...]
The Belarusian human rights organisation Viasna has been working in secret since 2003. After three attempts to register the activists are fed up and are now publicly announcing their activities, which are classified as illegal in Belarus. Three representatives of Viasna; Ales Bialiatski, Valiantsin Stefanovitj and Uladzimir Labkovitj made the risky statement on a press [...]
The Belarusian human rights organisation Nasja Viasna was on Thursday once again denied registration by the authorities. It is the third time in slightly less than two years that the foremost human rights defenders in Belarus are denied the right to work legally. The reasons for the denial are as absurd as previously. One example [...]
Today the EU launches its Eastern partnership aiming at creating closer bonds between the EU and six countries in east, among these the dictatorship Belarus. The project is launched at the EU summit in Prague where representatives of the Belarusian president Aljaksandr Lukasjenka will participate. At the same time it is exactly ten years since [...]
Russia has been convicted for the hundredth time for human rights crimes committed in Chechnya. Four of five cases, decided on April 23, have been run by the Swedish Helsinki Committee in collaboration with Russian Justice Initiative or Memorial and concern disappearances or murder. On April 23 the European court for human rights announced verdicts [...]
In the aftermath of the violence that followed the elections in Moldova on the 5th of April, the Moldovan authorities have harassed and arrested a great number of journalists from Moldovan as well as foreign media. The journalists are often and with little substance accused of having instigated and participated in the violence. In several [...]
The minor changes made since the EU started a dialogue with Belarus, have not altered the fundamental problems of civil society in Belarus, says the Swedish Helsinki Committee, together with a group of NGO:s, in a report on the human rights developments in the country. Read the latest report describing the human rights situation in [...]
Jekaterina Glod, analyst at the Belarusian Institute for Strategic Studies (BISS), talks about the latest developments in Belarus and the country’s relationships with Russia and the EU. On March 17 EU decided to give the Belarusian regime a new opportunity to come closer to the European Union. EU temporarily revoked a travel ban for a [...]
The LGBT organisation Coming Out, partner of the Swedish Helsinki Committee, has been officially registered by the government. This is the first case in Russian history when an organisation openly announcing as its goal advocacy for the interests of the LGBT community is registered by the government on the first try without any court intervention. [...]
The Belarusian authorities refuse to register the human rights organisation Nasja Viasna. This shows clearly that the Belarusian regime has failed an important test of their will to democratize the country, says Robert Hårdh, Secretary General of the Swedish Helsinki Committee. We believe that this is a matter of discrimination for political reasons. We are [...]
Of the 163 cases reported up until now by The Swedish Helsinki Committee and The Russian Justice Initiative (RJI) to The European Court of Justice , 36 have been resolved, 25 of them in 2008. In all the cases, the judgement has been that Russia is guilty of gross violation of human rights in northern [...]
Belarusian human rights activists were arrested by the police while distributing flyers on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The police confiscated the flyers and registered the details of the activists’ passports before releasing them an hour later. All previous talk of the country’s democratisation seems hollow in the light of [...]