COPENHAGEN, 10 December 2016 – Leaders of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s human rights committee today marked Human Rights Day with calls for a greater commitment to fundamental freedoms and basic rights across the OSCE area.
Committee Chair Ignacio Sanchez Amor (MP, Spain) stated that all OSCE countries should renew their commitments to human rights, which he pointed out are regularly breached despite having been freely agreed to in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 December 1948, as well as in a number of OSCE documents.
“On this Human Rights Day, let us reflect for a moment on the principles to which our governments have agreed, such as the right to life and liberty, freedom from torture, and equality before the law. While celebrating the vision of those who crafted the Universal Declaration, we should remember those whose rights are being systematically denied,” Sanchez Amor said.
He also pointed out that while criminal networks and extremist movements are guilty of committing human rights abuses of their own, including violations of the right to life, governments must nonetheless recommit to international standards and best practices in countering terrorism and combating crimes such as human trafficking.
“Governments have a duty to protect their people against abuses by criminals and terrorists, but in doing so must ensure that fundamental rights are not violated. Backsliding on our human rights during times of crisis has been shown time and again to be both ineffective in addressing security concerns and contrary to our shared values and commitments,” Sanchez Amor said.
Committee Vice-Chair Ivana Dobesova (MP, Czech Republic) focused on the rights of national minorities and drew attention to the troubling trend of hate crimes in OSCE participating States.
“We need to bear in mind that any of us could one day find ourselves in the position of a minority or a scapegoat. When we fail to stand up for a victim of hate crimes, we are failing both as human beings and as members of a society based on respect and tolerance for diversity,” Dobesova said.
Committee Rapporteur Kyriakos Kyriakou-Hadjiyianni (MP, Cyprus) said: “Today, I urge everyone to take a stand in defence of the rights of a refugee or migrant, a woman, a child, a person with disabilities, a minority group, or anyone else at risk of discrimination or violence. Across the OSCE area, from North America to Europe to Central Asia, there is a profound need for prioritizing human rights so that they are placed at the very top of the international agenda.”
Sanchez Amor, Dobesova and Kyriakou-Hadjiyianni were elected leaders of the OSCE PA’s General Committee on Democracy, Human Rights and Humanitarian Questions at the 25th Annual Session in Tbilisi in July 2016.