Armenia is among the OSCE countries with political prisoners12:48, July 14, 2017 | News, Own news
On July 4, 2017 Minsk, capital of Belarus, hosted the OSCE Parallel Civil Society Forum on the eve of the 26th annual session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly at the initiative of the Belarusian human rights defenders and Civic Solidarity Platform with HCA Vanadzor among its members.
By the end of the forum, the participants adopted a final resolution where they presented to the Assembly, OSCE member states and political structures their analyses and conclusions on the challenges to the implementation of the Helsinki Principles, OSCE commitments on solving such challenges and the international community’s strategy.
In the final Resolution, the forum participants expressed their concerns over the limited civil society space and growing threats to the human rights defenders in the OSCE member states recently.
The authors of the Resolution consider 2016 a year of anti-democratic constitutional changes in the OSCE region and state that it leads to weakening of constitutional guarantees of democratic institutions, fundamental rights and freedoms. The Resolution reads that: “In authoritarian countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan, constitutional changes have been used to further consolidated power in the hands of the ruling families or groups”.
The forum participants consider political persecutions and lack of safeguards for fair trial systemic problems in most of the OSCE member states where the authorities use justice to silence their critics and suppress dissent. They also expressed their concern over the threat to the judicial independence and national human rights institutions in such states.
The Resolution states that: “Opposition figures, anti-corruption activists, investigative journalists and youth activists continue to face threats of arrest and unfair trials across the OSCE region”. The authors of the Resolution are worried about the large numbers of political prisoners in Turkey, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
They note that interfering with peaceful assemblies through arbitrary arrests and use of excessive force against protesters and impunity against the police officers who use violence, accusing protesters of mass riots and long-term imprisonment have become new normal in those countries.
The Resolution authors are concerned that the mass media and the civil society are under growing pressure, in striking contradiction to OSCE commitments and countries’ UN obligations. “States are not taking adequate steps to prevent and investigate the threats to journalists, and in too many cases are themselves complicit in the violence, censorship and persecution perpetrated against those who exercise their right to freedom of expression”, the Resolution states.
Another matter of concern is the phenomenon of “fake election observation”. The Resolution mentions that to keep their power, the authorities provide funding for monitoring missions comprised of representatives of various countries and international organizations who later express opinions on the election processes in favor of the authorities. In contrast, the authorities criticize the opinions of the other observation missions and refuse to implement their recommendations.
The forum participants consider such practices a manifestation of international corruption and a major challenge for the very idea of international monitoring of electoral processes, which directly contradicts the OSCE principles and undermines the key role of the OSCE as a provider of safeguards for free and fair elections.
As for the other human rights issues in the OSCE region, the forum participants also provided recommendations on human rights protection and relevant actions in Belarus.