OSCE PA human rights committee considers rule of law concerns, political prisoners

2014-WM-3rd-CommThe OSCE PA's General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions, 13 Feb. 2014, Vienna.Civil society representatives from Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Turkey address parliamentarians

VIENNA, 13 February 2014 – The OSCE Parliamentary Assembly's General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions convened at the OSCE PA Winter Meeting today in Vienna to consider rule of law concerns and political prisoners in the OSCE region.

Some 100 parliamentarians from more than 50 OSCE Participating States heard presentations from Andrei Sannikov, the leader of the "European Belarus" civil campaign and former presidential candidate; Yevgeniy Zhovtis, from the International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law in Kazakhstan; Rashid Hajili, of the Media Rights Institute in Azerbaijan and legal counsel for Anar Mammadli; and Nurettin Demir, member of the Parliament of Turkey and author of a recent report on imprisoned politicians in the country.

Committee members were also addressed by Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights; Dunja Mijatovic, OSCE Special Representative on Freedom of the Media; and Ambassador Robert Kvile, Chairperson of the OSCE Human Dimension Committee.

In opening the meeting, Committee Chair Isabel Santos (Portugal) said: "I have requested to visit political prisoners in Kazakhstan and Ukraine. And I have expressed deep concern in regard to the rule of law situation in Russia, Azerbaijan and other Participating States. In Ukraine, I am following the case of opposition activist Dmytro Bulatov and the allegations of torture. I am also following the kidnapping case of Leonid Razvozzhayev, where there are also allegations of torture and gross violations of rule of law. Also concerning Russia, I remain troubled regarding political prisoners in the so-called 'Bolotnaya case.'"

Santos also expressed concern over access to justice for Guantanamo Bay inmates and announced her intention to visit the facility this year.

In his presentation to parliamentarians, Andrei Sannikov lamented the continued detention of political prisoners, torture, unfair trials, and lack of basic freedoms in his country. He urged parliamentarians to focus on expanding democratic standards to all corners of the OSCE region.

Yevgeniy Zhovtis highlighted the cases of Vladimir Kozlov, Roza Tuletaeva, Vadim Kuramshin and other civic activists who are serving prison sentences in Kazakhstan. He also referred to "the ambiguous role of Interpol" in many of these cases.

Rashid Hajili described his client, Anar Mammadli, the head of one of Azerbaijan's leading pro-democracy NGOs, as having been imprisoned "for his outspokenness about the violations during the last presidential election."

Turkish parliamentarian Nurettin Demir decried politically motivated cases in Turkey and the imprisonment of several lawmakers.

Following the presentations, parliamentarians engaged in a spirited debate. Several delegations challenged the guest speakers, while others called on the Assembly to further investigate the cases highlighted and continue to closely monitor the implementation of OSCE human rights commitments.

Several delegations also called for targeted economic sanctions against countries with poor human rights records.

The OSCE PA Winter Meeting continues on 14 February, when parliamentarians will debate the current situation in Ukraine, among other issues. For streaming video during the Meeting, please see www.oscepa.org. Also visit the OSCE PA YouTube page at www.youtube.com/oscepa



Nat Parry

Head of Communications and Press

Office: +45 33 37 80 55
Mobile: +45 60 10 81 77
Email: [email protected]

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