Warsaw, December 9, 2010. The third « inter-mechanisms » meeting organised by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders[1] and hosted by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) ended today in Warsaw, coinciding with the international human rights defenders day. On this occasion, international and regional mechanisms and programmes for the protection of human rights defenders (within the United Nations, African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Council of Europe, European Union, Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, ODIHR, joined by the International Organisation of the Francophonie) shared their respective experiences, and identified best practices and ways to increase their efficiency. Action-oriented discussions focused on the treatment of individual cases and their follow-up, preventive actions and emergency protection measures, information sharing on country visits and trial observations, as well as the publicity of their actions. (more…)

WARSAW, 8 December 2010 – Ahead of the International Human Rights Day on Friday, participants at an international meeting hosted by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) today called for better inter-institutional co-operation to strengthen protection of human rights defenders.

The two-day event is organized by the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture. ODIHR hosts the annual meeting for the first time.

Snjezana Bokulic, the head of ODIHR’s human rights department, stressed that the OSCE highly values the work of civil society in promoting human rights: “The international community must combine its efforts in a joint and comprehensive approach in order to effectively support the important work that is done by human rights defenders in the region.” (more…)

WARSAW, 11 November 2010 – The Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Ambassador Janez Lenarcic, today encouraged Kyrgyzstan’s authorities to ensure full compliance with fair trial standards in the case of human rights defender Azimjan Askarov and other trials related to the June violence in the south of the country.

An appeals court yesterday upheld the 15 September verdict of a lower court, which sentenced Askarov to life imprisonment and confiscation of his property on charges of organizing mass disorder and inciting inter-ethnic hatred.

ODIHR monitors at the first instance trial and appeal proceedings noted that the authorities failed to make adequate efforts to address repeated instances of verbal abuse, including death threats, directed at the lawyers and the defendant, as well as an instance of physical attack against one of the lawyers. This added to an atmosphere of fear and intimidation surrounding many of the cases related to the June violence, in particular those involving ethnic Uzbek defendants. (more…)

The first part of the review conference will take place in Warsaw from 30 September – 8 October 2010. The second and third parts of the review conference will be held in Vienna from 18-26 October and in Astana from 26-28 November. (more…)

ODIHR Annual Report 2009Publication of Annual Report, April 29, 2010
ODIHR’s Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders and NHRIs continued to provide training on monitoring freedom of assembly on the basis of the Guidelines on Freedom of Peaceful Assembly, published jointly with the Venice Commission. In 2009, ODIHR helped human rights defenders monitor the protection of this freedom in Armenia and Kazakhstan by training local monitors to observe assemblies, judicial proceedings and legislative developments. Final reports on both projects will be published in the course of 2010. In an effort to foster dialogue and co-operation between human rights defenders and government authorities on freedom of association, ODIHR, together with the Ombudsman of the Kyrgyz Republic and the International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law, organized a roundtable to discuss ways to enhance freedom of association in Central Asia. The roundtable, held in October, brought together government officials, parliamentarians and civil society representatives from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The meeting, based on peer review and dialogue, looked at how this commitment is reflected in national laws and practices, and recommended measures designed to ensure its fulfilment both regionally and in individual countries. The roundtable helped establish relationships and build trust between civil society and government authorities across the region through the exchange of experience and practices.