|KHRP Considers Turkey & Armenia’s OSCE Commitments|
The annual OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting is being held in Warsaw from 28 September to 9 October 2009. KHRP is concerned that many of the issues discussed at previous years meetings remain unresolved, particularly in regards to Turkey and Armenia’s commitment to their OSCE obligations.
Although the OSCE Human Dimension criteria clearly sets out that states should support ethnic and cultural minorities within their borders, national minorities in Turkey continue to face several forms of discrimination. Turkey steadfastly denies the very existence of ethnic/cultural/linguistic groups that are not Turkish, even when faced with one such group, the Kurds that make up at almost 20 per cent of its population.
In relation to freedom of expression and association both Turkey and Armenia continue to repress peaceful dissent and statements deemed to be critical of the state. As KHRP noted in its recent fact-finding mission to Turkey, civil society actors and those working for the protection of human rights routinely face harassment, arrest and prosecution under vague antiterrorism legislation and laws restricting individuals’ right to freely assemble. As noted by Kerim Yildiz, KHRP’s Chief Executive, ‘KHRP continues to be concerned by the persistence of a culture of impunity among state officials responsible for human rights violations and the harassment of human rights defenders, and urges the Turkish government of to implement the many legal instruments for the protection of human rights’. Although limited progress had been made, torture and ill treatment, particularly in custody of state officials, continue to exist. In addition to these obligations, Turkey and Armenia have also failed to meet their OSCE obligations in regards to freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.
OSCE commitments regarding the protection of human rights, particularly when these rights come up against states’ efforts at combating terrorism remains a problem throughout Europe. Counterterrorism measures and legislation often negatively impact the fundamental freedoms and human rights of individuals. In states such as Turkey and Armenia, these issues are exacerbated by the lack of transparency in the legislative process and the absence of an independent judiciary. Both of these conditions are vital to ensuring an individual’s right to a fair trial.
Finally, much work remains in OSCE participating states concerning gender equality. Progress must continue to promote equality of rights and opportunities between men and women as well as combat discrimination and gender-based violence.
‘KHRP is hopeful that progress, while slower in some states than others, will continue to be made in the protection and promotion of fundamental freedoms and human rights throughout OSCE participating states’, said KHRP Chief Executive