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Human Dimension Implementation Meeting 2016

This year’s Human Dimension Implementation Meeting, the biggest European conference on human rights organised by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, has started on 19 September.

The HFHR will be the organiser or a co-organizer of five satellite events accompanying the conference. The events will be devoted to the rule of law principle in Poland, the situation in the Donbas region, the use of torture in Central Asia and the independence of judicial systems in post-Soviet states. The meetings will take place om 21, 22 and 23 September (from Wednesday to Friday).

Detailed schedule:

21 September, Wednesday

Time: 08:15-09:45

“Where are we heading? Rule of law in Poland”

A coalition of watchdog organizations, including Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, Institute for Law and Society (INPRIS) and Professor Hołda Association organise a side event devoted to on-going constitutional crisis in Poland and its consequences to safeguarding the rule of law. During the side event, we would like to discuss the developments around the Constitutional Court. Since autumn 2015 the independence of the Constitutional Tribunal is undermined and laws adopted by the ruling party paralyze the effectiveness of its functioning. The situation has triggered international attention, with a number of opinions prepared by the Venice Commission and the opening of the rule of law procedure by the European Commission. The constitutional crisis is combined with the adoption of numerous laws, which constitutionality poses serious concerns and their effects on human rights.

Time: 18:00-19:45

“Is normal life in Donbas possible? The situation of civilians in the conflict zone in Ukraine”

Since 2014, the “Justice for Peace in Donbas” Coalition has documented human rights violations in the military conflict in the east of Ukraine and the conflict’s impaction the lives of civilians. In 2016, the Coalition members have conducted a number of monitoring missions, including in partnerships with organizations from Belarus, Germany, Poland and Russia. They have gathered ample evidence and countless victim testimonies which paint a gruesome picture of the lives in the conflict zone. The side event will be a chance to comprehensively discuss the situation of civilians in the east of Ukraine, including from the perspective of humanitarian law.

22 September, Thursday

Time: 08:15-09:45

“Donbas: Surviving Hell” – Documentary evidences of extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and gender-conditioned violence.

Members of the “Justice for Peace in Donbas” Coalition have been documenting evidence of serious human rights violations in the area of armed conflict in Eastern Ukraine for three years. As a result of monitoring missions, they collected thousands of testimonies of people illegally kept in captivity by local pro-Russian armed groups. During the side event, Ukrainian human rights defenders will talk about the practice of illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial executions, sexual and gender-based violence, in particular against the members of the LGBTI community in non-control Ukrainian government territory as well as talk about legal defense of victims of these extraordinary human rights violations.

23 September, Friday

Time: 13:00-14:45

Regional anti-torture initiatives by Central Asian governments

At this side event representatives of the NGO Coalitions against Torture in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan will present and focus on key anti-torture measures some Central Asian governments have pioneered in recent years. These efforts can and should provide examples for the other countries in this region as well as for other OSCE participating states where torture remains a difficult challenge. The NGOs will also discuss how to avoid and to adequately address the remaining shortcomings that have tainted some of the positive moves. At this side event the human rights defenders will also discuss how to rectify the shortcomings associated with some of the positive moves mentioned above. For example, Kazakhstan‘s NPM lacks full independence; detainees in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan are often in practice not given access to the basic safeguards that they are entitled to by law; and in the cases where courts in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan have granted individuals compensation for moral harm sustained through torture the amounts have been neither fair nor adequate.

Time: 13:00-14:45

The post-Soviet Judiciary: a tool for administration of justice or a tool of oppression? Lack of independence of the judiciary and prosecution of HRDs in the Eastern part of the OSCE area

The Netherlands Helsinki Committee, the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), together with partner organizations, would like to invite you to the side event devoted to the role of the judiciary in the Eastern part of the OSCE area. The justice system can be easily used to silence dissident voices. Belarus was one of the first post-soviet countries to pass its repressive legislative arsenal – that is still in force – and to strip its judiciary and lawyers of independence in order to close down human rights organisations and to prosecute activists for their work. The recent and ongoing civil society crackdown in Azerbaijan demonstrated the dangers of political instrumentalisation of prosecutors and judges in silencing human rights defenders. In Kazakhstan, the dire situation of civil society has deteriorated in 2016, with a sharp increase of the number of cases brought against independent activists. In Russia, more than thirty new laws severely restrict all forms of participation in public life. In Kyrgyzstan, the initiative to amend the country’s Constitution by replacing commitments to universal human rights with the so-called national values may result in a wave of prosecution of human rights activists. Finally, in Uzbekistan, the judiciary is executive’s arm to harass and imprison human rights defenders. The event will zoom in on accountability of countries failing to abide by the principles of the rule of law.

Full description of side events is available here.

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