I would like to help today and donate

Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Next
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
CLOSE
NEWS

Fair Trials event reflects on the impact of counter-terrorism laws on human rights in the OSCE

admin - April 16, 2019 - counter-terrorism, osce

 

In March, Fair Trials held a side-event at the OSCE’s Counter-Terrorism Conference in Bratislava on the Challenges and Successes of Implementing Counter-terrorism and Anti-Extremism Laws for Human Rights in the OSCE. The side event was held in conjunction with the Civic Solidarity Platform’s Working Group on Counter-Terrorism, Anti-Extremism and Human Rights, which Fair Trials coordinates with the Moscow-based SOVA Center for Information and Analysis. The event featured contributions from Fair Trials and SOVA Center, as well as Anara Ibrayeva, Director of Dignity in Kazakhstan, Predrag Nikolic from the OSCE mission to Serbia, and Johannes Heiler, Adviser on Anti-Terrorism Issues at the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

The Slovak Chairmanship of the OSCE selected the theme of ‘Taking Stock of Efforts to Prevent and Counter Terrorism as well as Violent Extremism and Radicalization in the OSCE’ for the conference, which presented an opportunity at the side event to assess how some of the laws, policies and practices which have developed across the OSCE for the purpose of countering terrorism have been impacting on crucial human rights.

At the event, Fair Trials introduced the findings of the Working Group’s report, Cross-border criminal justice and security: Human rights concerns in the OSCE region, which was published last year. The report highlights the impact on human rights of the rise in cross border cooperation which facilitates the transfer across borders of:

  • People – through measures such as extradition, which can have a devastating impact on people’s lives. The report shows that sometimes states are failing to live up to their international obligations not to return people to countries where they are at risk of torture. The report also documents the extremely concerning practice of states to step outside the legal framework of extradition to transfer people through expulsions and abductions.
  • Data – through international crime fighting tools such as INTERPOL, which have been left open to abuse for political purposes, and also the clandestine nature of intelligence sharing that is unregulated and goes on throughout the OSCE.
  • Policies and practices – the sharing of laws and policies across regions which are negatively impacting on human rights, such as the proliferation of anti-extremism laws in Russia and Central Asia.

SOVA Center expert Maria Kravchenko introduced the findings of an upcoming report by SOVA Center and Article 19 on the broad application of anti-extremism laws in Russia and their lack of compliance with international human rights standards. The report demonstrates how the broad umbrella concept of ‘extremism’ in Russia has led to a wide range of groups and activities, including peaceful religious groups such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, being branded as extremist. Because these laws not only criminalise the making of statements deemed to be ‘extremist’, but also the publication of statements, journalists have also been prosecuted in Russia simply for reporting on statements made by others, severely impacting freedom of the media. The report will be published in the coming weeks.

Anara Ibrayeva shared her on the ground experiences of human rights defenders in Kazakhstan being targeted by anti-extremism and counter-terrorism laws, offering examples of where people have been prosecuted for challenging the Government on property rights or simply carrying out their job as lawyers. Predrag Nikolic spoke about efforts to counter violent extremism in the Western Balkans, and the challenge of producing long-term impact within tight time frames. He also highlighted how OSCE projects are starting to recognise the importance of integrating gendered approaches in their work to counter-terrorism and extremism. Finally, Johannes Heiler gave an overview of the challenges that the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights have faced in recent years in trying to ensure that counter-terrorism approaches across the OSCE do not restrict human rights. He highlighted the crucial role that human rights and civil society can play in ensuring peaceful and democratic societies, and working with States to counter extremism and terrorism.

If you are a journalist interested in this story, please telephone Fair Trials’ press department on +44 (0) 20 7822 2370 or +32 (0) 2 360 04 71.

Keep up to date

Receive updates on our work and news about Fair Trials globally

Activities in the following sections on this website are supported by the Justice Programme of the European Union: Legal Experts Advisory Panel, Defence Rights Map, Case Law Database, Advice Guides and Latest News. More information about our financial supporters is available here.