Rights body calls for more action on countries attacking press freedom


Human rights campaigners have urged the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe to challenge member states which attack press freedom and persecute opposition members.

The organisation must begin assessments on whether its members were implementing its own commitments, said the Civic Solidarity Platform, a network of over 50 human rights groups throughout the OSCE.

“It is time the OSCE backed up fine declarations with effective action. Too often it has been the prisoner of consensus and failed to respond when human rights defenders have been jailed, attacked or killed,” said Mary Lawlor, executive director of Front Line Defenders.

The network yesterday held a conference in Dublin to highlight some problems with the OSCE. It is seeking a commitment in particular for member states to ensure the security of human rights campaigners.

The situation in some member states – such as Russia, Belarus and Ukraine – has got worse with the body unable to influence human rights.

In Belarus, campaigners received help from the OSCE but the organisation was not influencing the government’s repression, the network said. This approach could be changed. “Belarus is not a member of the Council of Europe . . . the OSCE is therefore the only important organisation to address human rights concerns,” said Yuri Dzhibladze, president of the Centre for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights, based in Moscow.

The body was not dealing with regional conflicts. It was particularly ineffective in recent ethnic violence in Krygyzstan, said Mr Dzhibladze.