In bilateral meetings in St. Petersburg, President Muttonen builds inter-parliamentary dialogue on common challenges
ST. PETERSBURG, 27 March 2017 – OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Christine Muttonen (MP, Austria) today held a series of bilateral meetings in St. Petersburg ahead of the Parliamentary Conference on Combating International Terrorism, co-organized by the OSCE PA and Interparliamentary Assembly of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which she is addressing on Tuesday.
In meetings with Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation; Oktay Asadov, Speaker of the Milli Mejlis of the Azerbaijan Republic; Mikhail Myasnikovich, Chairman of the Upper House of Belarus; and Chynybai Tursunbekov, Speaker of the Jogorku Kenesh of the Kyrgyz Republic, Muttonen addressed a wide array of subjects. Discussions focused on developing an effective international response to countering terrorism, as well as building confidence and trust among OSCE participating States which is the core theme of this year’s Annual Session of the OSCE PA.
In her meeting with Speaker Volodin, Muttonen noted the importance of inter-parliamentary convergence over transnational threats such as terrorism. Volodin and Muttonen discussed ways of sustaining such co-operation through transparent mechanisms that would benefit the OSCE region as a whole.
Belarus must respect right to assemble, say chairs of OSCE PA human rights committee and ad hoc working group
COPENHAGEN, 27 March 2017 – Belarusian authorities must respect principles of freedom of assembly in their handling of demonstrations, the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee Chair Ignacio Sanchez Amor and Kent Harstedt, the Chair of the Assembly’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Belarus, said today in response to mass arrests of protesters that took place over the weekend. They further called for the release of those who are still in detention.
“Belarus has agreed to certain commitments as an OSCE participating State, including respecting the rights of peaceful assembly and demonstration,” said Sanchez Amor, a Member of the Spanish Parliament. “The mass arrests that took place over the weekend, the excessive use force against protesters and the reported raids of civil society organizations all appear to be violations of those OSCE commitments.”
He reminded authorities that according to the OSCE’s 1990 Copenhagen Document, any restrictions placed on the exercise of the right of assembly must be lawful and consistent with international standards.
Kent Harstedt (MP, Sweden) noted that mass arrests are inconsistent with due process and rule of law principles.
COPENHAGEN, 24 March 2017 – Kent Harstedt (MP, Sweden), the Chair of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Working Group on Belarus, today expressed concerns regarding an increasingly hazardous atmosphere pertaining to demonstrations that have taken place in recent weeks and other gatherings that are reportedly planned to be held tomorrow.
“The Belarusian authorities need to show restraint in handling the demonstrations. The fundamental rights of citizens must be upheld, including freedom of expression and the right to demonstrate peacefully. I am particularly concerned by the preventive arrests and intimidations that reportedly aim to obstruct certain people from taking part in the demonstrations,” Harstedt said.
He added however that demonstrators also have obligations.
“Freedom of assembly comes with responsibilities. The organizers and the participants in the demonstrations need to ensure that they occur in a calm and peaceful manner. I believe that the overwhelming majority of the people in Belarus expect the behaviour of all those involved with the demonstrations to be moderate and responsible,” Harstedt said.
COPENHAGEN, 24 March 2017 – OSCE parliamentarians will observe the upcoming parliamentary elections in Armenia and provide leadership for the OSCE’s short-term observer mission.
OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Sebastian Kurz has appointed Ignacio Sanchez Amor (MP, Spain) as Special Co-ordinator to lead the expected 250 short-term OSCE observers for the 2 April vote. Geir Jorgen Bekkevold (MP, Norway) will serve as Head of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly delegation, which will include some 55 members of parliament from 23 countries.
“My fellow observers and I are following the electoral process in Armenia in great detail. These elections will be the first conducted under Armenia’s revised Constitution, marking a significant transition from a semi-presidential to a parliamentary republic. I look forward to observing how these important elections play out,” Special Co-ordinator Sanchez Amor said.