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…)

October 21, 2010 – The European Parliament,

– having regard to its resolution of 17 September 2009 on the murder of human rights activists in Russia(1) ,

– having regard to the award on 16 December 2009 of its Sakharov Prize to Oleg Orlov, Sergei Kovalev and Lyudmila Alexeyeva on behalf of the Human Rights Centre Memorial and all other human rights defenders in Russia,

– having regard to the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the European Union and the Russian Federation, which entered into force in 1997 and has been extended pending its replacement by a new agreement,

– having regard to the ongoing negotiations on a new agreement establishing a new, comprehensive framework for EU-Russia relations,

– having regard to the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, (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…)

The spokesperson of High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice President of the Commission Catherine Ashton issued a following statement today:

“The High Representative Catherine Ashton is deeply concerned by the conviction of Kyrgyz human rights defender Azimjan Askarov to a life sentence and confiscation of his property, in the light of the manifest violations of his right to a fair trial. This ruling sends a negative signal with regards to the situation of human rights defenders in the country and runs counter to ongoing efforts towards inter-ethnic reconciliation.

High Representative remains seriously concerned by reports that Mr Askarov was ill-treated while in police custody and that his lawyer and relatives were harassed. She wishes to remind the Kyrgyz authorities of their obligations to investigate allegations of torture in an impartial and prompt manner and to protect human rights defenders in light of the commitments freely undertaken by Kyrgyzstan under international and domestic law.

Should Mr Askarov decide to appeal, HR urges the authorities to do everything in their power to ensure that his right to a fair trial is respected, and that the safety of the defendants, their relatives and their lawyers and the impartiality of the proceedings is ensured.

Mr Askarov and his non-governmental organisation “Air”, have carried out important work in documenting prison conditions and the treatment of detainees by police in the Jalal-Abad province, and recently recorded the violent incidents that took place in the region during the June events.

The EU attended the full proceedings of the trial, and has regularly raised the case of Mr Askarov with the authorities. The EU will continue to monitor the overall situation of human rights defenders in Kyrgyzstan.”

Brussels, 16 July 2010 – The European Union expresses its preoccupation at the continuing human rights violations in the North Caucasus and the worsening of the situation of human rights defenders in the region, as also noted in Dick Marty´s (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) report on the human rights violations in the North Caucasus, one year after the assassination of Mrs Natalia Estemirova of the Non-Governmental Organisation Memorial.

The European Union is concerned at the recent threats received by the NGO Memorial and the charges brought forward against its Director, Mr Oleg Orlov.

The European Union recalls the importance of protecting human rights defenders in Russia and worldwide, and allowing them to freely exercise their activities in accordance with the Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly on Human Rights Defenders, adopted in 1998. (more…)