Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty Reports Chairman
Smith's Pledge To Push For ICC Indictment Of Belarusian
U.S. Congressman Pledges To Push For ICC Indictment Of
Belarusian President Lukashenka
WASHINGTON, RADIO FREE EUROPE/ RADIO LIBERTY -- The chairman
of the U.S. Helsinki Commission has pledged to call on the
Obama administration to push for the indictment of hard-line
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka by the
International Criminal Court (ICC).
U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION TO HOLD BRIEFING ON HUMAN
RIGHTS PLAY ON MAGNITSKY MURDER
Wednesday, Nov. 16th at 6:00 pm
After exposing the largest tax fraud in Russian history,
Magnitsky was wrongly arrested and tortured in prison. Six
months later he became seriously ill and was consistently
denied medical attention despite 20 formal requests. On the
night of November 16, 2009, he went into critical condition,
but instead of being treated in a hospital he was put in an
isolation cell, chained to a bed, and beaten by eight prison
guards for one hour and eighteen minutes. Sergei Magnitsky
was 37 years old and left behind a wife and two children.
Those responsible for this crime have yet to be punished and
his story has become a global human rights cause and is
emblematic of corruption, violence, and impunity in Russia.
Please join the Helsinki Commission on the second
anniversary of Magnitsky’s death for a performance of
Russian playwright Elena Gremina’s celebrated theatrical
interpretation of Magnitsky’s final moments. The play
juxtaposes moving and chilling testimony and documents from
Magnitsky's diary; a radio interview with his mother; two
judges; a prison doctor and paramedic; an investigator; and
a young ambulance paramedic.
“One Hour Eighteen” is produced by Philip Arnoult’s Center
for International Theatre Development, with Russian director
Yury Urnov and American actors.
The performance lasts just under an hour and will be
followed by a staff briefing and discussion
Media Contact: Shelly Han
U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION TO HOLD HEARING ON EGYPT
November 15, 2011
Please join the Commission on Security and Cooperation in
Europe for a heaing that explores the nexus between
sectarian violence and democracy.
On Sunday October 9, 2011, 25 people were killed and more
than 300 injured
peaceful group of Coptic Christians protesting the burning
of a church in Aswan. In what has been deemed the “Massacre
at Maspero,” referring to the location of the demonstration,
witnesses say the army fired on the demonstrators with live
ammunition and plowed into the crowd with armored vehicles.
The military denied the use of live ammunition and claimed
that their soldiers were attacked by an armed mob. The
military has arrested at least 28 people, almost all Copts,
including prominent blogger Alaa Abdel Fattah, and brought
military prosecutors. The hearing will focus on
violence perpetrated against the Coptic Christians in Egypt,
the implications of the events for that community and the
current Egyptian leadership, and prospects for the
consolidation of democracy in Egypt.
U.S. HELSINKI COMMISSION: CONVICTION OF FORMER PRIME
MINISTER TYMOSHENKO A SERIOUS SETBACK FOR UKRAINIAN
WASHINGTON— U.S. Helsinki Commission leadership today
expressed dismay and alarm over the selective and
politically motivated prosecution and conviction of Yuliya
Tymoshenko. Today, she was sentenced to 7 years in prison
for executive decisions she made in 2009 when she was prime
“The politically motivated conviction of Ms. Tymoshenko
starkly illustrates the undoing of democracy in Ukraine,”
stated Chairman Rep. Christopher H. Smith (NJ-04). “Right
after the Orange Revolution Ukraine was a beacon for hope
for other post-Soviet states; now this beacon is almost
extinguished. The prosecution and verdict in the Tymoshenko
case call into grave question Ukraine’s commitment to OSCE
human rights, democracy and rule of law standards. Her
conviction bans her from office for the next three years,
which raises serious doubts about whether Ukraine’s 2012
elections can meet OSCE standards for democratic elections,
and calls into serious question Ukraine’s suitability to
assume the Chairmanship of the OSCE in 2013.”
“This is a serious blow to democracy in Ukraine,” declared
Co-Chairman Benjamin L. Cardin, (MD). “The highly selective
prosecutions of ranking members of the previous government,
most notably today’s politically motivated conviction of
former prime minister Yuliya Tymoshenko, fly in the face of
Ukraine’s often-asserted aspirations and efforts to
integrate into the European Union. The Helsinki Commission
and United States have strongly and consistently supported
Ukraine’s European aspirations, which offer the best
assurance of Ukraine’s future as an independent, democratic
and flourishing state. Unfortunately, the Tymoshenko
conviction only jeopardizes these efforts.”
According to U.S. State Department and various NGO reports,
the state of democracy and human rights in Ukraine has
deteriorated since Viktor Yanukovych was elected President
in February 2010. Worrisome trends include consolidation of
power in the presidency; weakening of checks and balances;
backpedaling on freedoms of expression and assembly; various
forms of pressure on media and civil society groups
(including the recent closure of three opposition television
channels in Kharkiv); and seriously flawed local elections.
Endemic corruption continues unabated, with weak rule of law
and lack of an independent judiciary.
Of immediate concern are selective prosecutions of high
ranking members of the previous government. On October 11,
Yulia Tymoshenko received a sentence of 7 years on charges
of exceeding her authority as prime minister by agreeing to
a 2009 gas deal with Russia that prosecutors say harmed
Ukraine’s economy. Both the European Union and U.S.
(including the Helsinki Commission) have repeatedly
criticized the trial as contravening European values, in
effect criminalizing a political decision, which has harmed
Kyiv’s efforts at closer integration with the EU,
specifically Ukraine-EU Free Trade and Association
organizations The Helsinki Committees
Belarus: Belarus Helsinki Committee
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
Croatia: Croatian Helsinki Committee
Hungary: Hungarian Helsinki Committee
Rep. of Macedonia: Helsinki Committee for Human Rights of
the Republic of Macedonia
Serbia: Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights
The International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF)
was a self-governing group of non-governmental,
not-for-profit organizations that act to protect human
rights throughout Europe, North America and Central Asia. A
specific primary goal was to monitor compliance with the
human rights provisions of the Helsinki Final Act and its
It was founded in 1982, inspired in part by an appeal from
Dr. Andrei Sakharov for the creation of a "unified
international committee to defend all Helsinki Watch
Group members", and also to co-ordinate their work.
The IHF was founded in response, both to provide an
organization which the various independent Helsinki
committees could use to support each another, as well as
provide an international body to strengthen their work.
The original members were the independent Helsinki
committees of Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Netherlands,
Norway, Sweden and the United States; an international
secretariat was established in Vienna. The secretariat
supported and provided liaison member Helsinki committees
and associated human rights groups, and represented them at
the international political level. At the time IHF was
dissolved, it had forty-four member committees.
The IHF also had direct links with individuals and groups
supporting human rights in countries where no Helsinki
committees exist. In addition to gathering and analyzing
information on human rights conditions in OSCE countries,
the IHF acted as a clearing house for this information,
disseminating it to governments, inter-governmental
organizations, the press and the public at large.
Karl zu Schwarzenberg served as chairman of the federation
from 1984 to 1991. The International Helsinki Federation for
Human Rights was awarded the European Human Rights Prize in
1989, jointly with Lech Wałęsa.
In January 2008, an Austrian court convicted the IHF's
former financial manager, the Austrian Rainer Tannenberger,
of the embezzlement of €1.2 million. Tannenberger was
sentenced to three years in prison, with two of them
suspended. The IHF's resulting insolvency had driven it to
file for bankruptcy in Austria, its country of registration,
and to be dissolved on 27 November 2007.
United Nations Human Rights Committee|
Human Rights Watch is an international NGO based in New York
City, USA, that works with human rights issues.
The organization was started under the name Helsinki Watch in
1978 to monitor the Soviet Union's compliance with the Helsinki
Accords. Other watch organizations were started to cover other
parts of the world. They were united in 1988 and formed Human
Whereas most other groups are focused on advocacy and public
pressure , HRW's specialty is the production of reports, to
establish the details needed for others to do advocacy work.
Major issues raised by the organization in its reports include
social and gender discrimination, government corruption, and
abuses in criminal justice systems in many nations.
Human Rights Watch was one of six international NGOs that
founded the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers in 1998.
HRW later spun of several regional Watch groups, e.g., Americas
Watch,..., and Index on Censorship, a UK-based group monitoring
the freedom of the press around the globe.
Human Rights Watch is also a member of the International Freedom
of Expression Exchange, a virtual network of non-governmental
organisations that monitors free expression violations worldwide
and campaigns to defend journalists, writers and human rights
Like most human rights groups, Human Rights Watch opposes the
The United Nations Human Rights Committee is a United Nations body of 18 experts established by a human rights treaty, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The Committee meets for three four-week sessions per year to consider the five-yearly reports submitted by the 172 States parties to the ICCPR on their compliance with the treaty, and any individual petitions concerning the 116 States parties to the ICCPR's First Optional Protocol. The Committee is one of ten UN human rights treaty bodies, each responsible for overseeing the implementation of a particular treaty.
The UN Human Rights Committee should not be confused with the more high-profile UN Human Rights Council, or its predecessor, the UN Commission on Human Rights. Whereas the Human Rights Council (since June 2006) and the Commission on Human Rights (before that date) are UN political bodies: composed of states, established by a UN General Assembly resolution and the UN Charter, and discussing the entire range of human rights concerns; the Human Rights Committee is a UN expert body: composed of persons, established by the ICCPR, and discussing matters pertaining only to that treaty.
The aims and objectives of the state reporting system under the ICCPR were discussed in General Comment 1 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). CESCR concluded the State Reporting System was to be more than a procedural requirement, but additionally meet further aims and objectives.
During the process of state reporting, NGOs may indicate their interest to the secretariat on a particular state's report and then prepare a submission to be considered alongside the state report. The input of non-governmental organisations allows for an assessment on the state of civil, social and political rights and takes into account such assessments in the view of organisation that may to be affected by ICCPR principles. The utility of NGO input has been noted by the World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna 1993 in its concluding Declaration, in the protection of human rights and in humanitarian services. NGO reports also give the public an opportunity to assist in the assessment of the government's overall adherence to the Covenant or on particular matters.
These reports may be assessed prior to the meeting or in
some circumstances an NGO may be admitted to the meeting. Consequentially, the NGO may take a record of the meeting, facilitating dissemination of information back to the state concerned.
The Helsinki Committees for Human Rights exist in many European
countries (the OSCE region) as volunteer, non-profit organizations
devoted to human rights and presumably named after the Helsinki Accords.
They used to be organized into the International Helsinki Federation for
Human Rights based in Vienna, but now bankrupt due to financial fraud
within its organisation.
The Helsinki Committees began as Helsinki Watch groups.
The first one was founded in the Soviet Union in 1976, the second in
1977 in Czechoslovakia, the third in 1979 in Poland, etc.
In 1982, representatives of several of these committees held an
International Citizens Helsinki Watch Conference and founded the IHF.
In 1992, a British Helsinki Human Rights Group was established in
the UK, but this group has always been completely independent of the
International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights.
The UK's official representative in the IHF is the British Helsinki
Subcommittee of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group, established in