COPENHAGEN, 20 April 2015 – OSCE parliamentarians will conduct an election observation mission to the United Kingdom for the country's general elections on 7 May.
OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Ivica Dacic has designated OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Vice-President George Tsereteli (MP, Georgia) as Special Co-ordinator of the short-term OSCE observers, which comprise 35 MPs from nearly 20 countries.
"Parliamentarians from many OSCE participating States, including my own, have looked to the United Kingdom as a model for parliamentary democracy. But it is important that those countries, too, undergo quality control of their elections and maintain their adherence to election-related OSCE standards. I look forward to leading our observation mission for this hotly contested vote," Tsereteli said.
COPENHAGEN, 16 April 2015 – The Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, Isabel Santos (MP, Portugal), today condemned the sentencing of Azerbaijani rights activist Rasul Jafarov to a lengthy prison term and called on the international community to recognize him as a prisoner of conscience.
"The past year has been a period of attack after attack by the authorities in Azerbaijan on the country's most prominent defenders of civil liberties, justice and clean governance. Today's sentencing follows a long history of official targeting of Mr. Jafarov, including trumped up charges, financial pressure and travel restrictions. It is high time for all of us to acknowledge that he is clearly a prisoner of conscience and, unfortunately, not alone as such in Azerbaijan today," Santos said.
The Baku Court on Grave Crimes sentenced Jafarov on 16 April to six and a half years in prison on charges including embezzlement, illegal entrepreneurship and tax evasion. Jafarov denies the allegations against him and his lawyer has vowed to file an appeal.
OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, Centre in Ashgabat hold seminar for Turkmen MPs on parliamentary activities
ASHGABAT, 15 April 2015 – Lawmakers from Turkmenistan discussed the activities of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and opportunities to deepen their engagement in its work at a seminar conducted by the OSCE PA and the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat this week.
The seminar, hosted by the Turkmen parliament, Mejlis, on 14-15 April, featured presentations by Thierry Mariani (MP, France), the OSCE PA's Special Representative for Central Asia; Roza Aknazarova (MP, Kyrgyzstan), the Сhairperson of the OSCE PA's Committee on Economic Affairs, Science, Technology and Environment; and OSCE PA Programme Officer Maria Chepurina.
"This seminar marks a new step in co-operation between the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat and the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly," said Ambassador Ivo Petrov, the Head of the Centre, in a message to participants.
"The OSCE Centre initiated this event so that MPs from different OSCE participating States could exchange their experiences of working in the Assembly with their colleagues from Turkmenistan. It is my strong belief that our seminar will contribute to enhanced involvement of Mejlis members in the PA's activities and, as a result, strengthened co-operation between the Mejlis and parliaments of other OSCE countries," he added.
COPENHAGEN, 10 April 2015 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism and Intolerance, U.S. Senator Benjamin Cardin, today expressed deep concern over the fatal shooting of Walter Scott by a police officer on 4 April in the U.S. state of South Carolina.
"The video depicting the tragic shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed African-American man, at the hands of law enforcement further demonstrates the necessity for a full review of the inequalities in the U.S. justice system," Special Representative Cardin said.
"While I have long called for legislation to end racial profiling in my own country, issues of discriminatory policing also remain a problem throughout the OSCE area, from France to Russia. As we work to address issues of intolerance, we must be certain to also include those responsible for safeguarding and administering justice in our societies," he added.
In March, Senator Cardin was appointed to serve as the first Special Representative on Anti-Semitism, Racism and Intolerance in the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly, which brings together lawmakers from the Organization's 57 participating States in Europe, North America and Central Asia. The newly established position strengthens the Assembly's efforts to counter prejudice and discrimination across the OSCE area.