Open letter from human rights organizations of CIS countries to OSCE and governments of participating countries


Voted for in Moscow, August 1, 2005 at the International round-table meeting "30th anniversary of Helsinki Agreements: results and prospects"

Today, at the 30th anniversary of signing of Helsinki Agreements we, representatives of human rights organizations of Russia and other CIS countries would like to draw attention of OSCE and governments of participating countries to necessity to strengthen the organization’s role in the area of human rights protection.

In 30 years OSCE has become an acknowledged leader in peacekeeping and promotion of democratic values and freedoms. It is particularly important that the organization’s success was based on the implementation of key principle which has priority today: "protection of human rights regardless of state borders".

However, we cannot be content with what has been achieved so far. The efforts made still have not resulted in creation of truly efficient mechanisms of human rights protection. Today, the level of human rights abuse is still intolerably high. We are disappointed to see that CIS countries where we work are among the ones where the situation with human rights is the least satisfactory. Typical for these countries are such flagrant violations of human rights as:

§  tortures and cruel treatment, large-scale physical violence;

§  extrajudicial executions and kidnappings, arrests without warrants;

§  discrimination on political grounds;

§  lack of court independence;

§  restriction of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience;

§  restriction of freedom of press and freedom of association;

§  unreasonable restrictions the state applies to property rights.

Unfortunately, the governments of our countries still have not made human rights a priority in their internal policy. They often perceive activities of OSCE and other international institutions in monitoring of human rights as interference with their internal affairs.

It is notable that Russian delegation in its speech at the Council of Foreign Ministers of OSCE on December 7, 2004 did not even mention human rights as an OSCE priority.

Thereby we believe that decisive actions must be taken to protect main provisions of humanitarian articles of Helsinki Agreements and such actions should be based on political will of governments of participating countries and their citizens’ will.

We declare our absolute commitment to the most important principle of modern international relations, according to which "observance of human rights is not internal affair of a state”.

We support CIS countries’ endeavor to increase the role of OSCE in political, military and economic cooperation.

In future, OSCE can play an important role in resolving other modern problems, such as drug trafficking, HIV-AIDS spreading, human trafficking, etc.

However, all this should not lead to decrease of activity in traditional for OSCE humanitarian areas. On the contrary, we believe that further development of dialogue and cooperation in the human rights protection area is the most important issue that requires significant activization.

OSCE and human right organizations of participating countries should analyze critically the tendencies appeared in connection with fight against terrorism and threatening to limit human rights and liberties. And here OSCE should pay particular attention not only to CIS countries, but also to other OSCE members.

Therefore, OSCE should significantly broaden its monitoring activities.

We believe that the following OSCE mandates in the area of humanitarian cooperation should be included (broadened) in the process of OSCE reform:

1. Creation of mechanism of rapid reaction to large-scale human rights violations in the participating countries (sending inspecting teams in 24 hours after notification and confirmation of violation):

2. Development of mechanisms of cooperation with appropriate structures of UN and Council of Europe in order to exchange information concerning observance of human rights and civil liberties;

3. Permanent presence of OSCE missions in the worst problem areas, first of all Turkmenia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Chechen Republic of Russia;

4. Measures aimed at promoting ombudsman institution in the participating countries, as well as supporting ombudsmen cooperation with OSCE agencies and non-governmental human rights organizations.

We believe that without active involvement of NGOs and citizens, neither OSCE nor governments of participating countries will be successful in fulfillment of the commitments undertaken. For our part, we will also make efforts to develop cooperation in this area.

We consider open discussion of the principles of OSCE reform to be an important factor and insist that NGOs representatives should be invited to participate in the process of drawing up suggestions. We entrust Moscow Helsinki Group with formation of working group for development of suggestions on behalf of NGOs.

Stable international security can only be achieved in the environment of respect toward judicial and democratic values.

The letter is open for signing until August 15, 2005.

Liudmila Alekseyeva, Moscow Helsinki Group

Lev Ponomarev, All-Russia public movement «For Human Rights»

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