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First students of OSCE Presence in Albania-supported Master’s Programme in Criminology graduated

OSCE - Wed, 09/27/2023 - 18:27

A ceremony to celebrate the first 30 graduates of the Master’s degree in Criminology and to thank all those that made possible this programme took place at Tirana University’s Law Faculty on 27 September 2023.

The Master’s Programme – established in December 2020 upon the initiative and support of the OSCE Presence in Albania – aims to enhance the research capacities of criminal justice professionals, academics and policy makers in preventing and combating crime in Albania in line with human rights standards and OSCE commitments. It is the first Executive Master Programme in Albania included in the third cycle of studies, making it equivalent to a doctorate degree.

“Today, we are harvesting the results of our efforts, following more than five years of intensive work. The Master’s Programme in Criminology has already shown the potential to being ground-breaking for the country: departing from a classic approach to crime, based on investigation and punishment, and switching focus and effort to a more encompassing, restorative, and empirically sound approach”, said Ambassador Bruce Berton, Head of the OSCE Presence.

Rector of the University of Tirana Prof. Dr. Artan Hoxha said: “The Executive Master has advanced the scientific research in the field of criminology, which will enhance the capacities of the academic staff and students. The implementation of the OSCE Presence’s project on establishing the Master’s Degree has improved the academic infrastructure by increasing the participation of students in scientific research”.

Since 2019, the OSCE Presence and the Faculty of Law have worked intensively to develop the structure and curricula of the programme, and building the capacities and resources of the University of Tirana to deliver and manage it. The 90 students enrolled so far in this programme come from a variety of backgrounds. They are mostly police judicial police officers, defence lawyers, Security Academy lecturers, staff of Albanian parliament administration, civil society activists and criminal justice experts. The Master’s Programme offers a comprehensive, integrated curriculum, which is beneficial for various career paths in the justice system.

The event was organized as part of the OSCE Presence’s extra-budgetary project “Establishing a Master’s Programme in Criminology,” funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the U.S. Mission to the OSCE, the British Embassy in Tirana and the Government of Italy. The OSCE Presence implements the project in close co-operation with the Faculty of Law of the University of Tirana, with the support of the Faculty of Social Sciences, the Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Interior.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE gathers experts to discuss coordinated vulnerability disclosure, one of the cyber/ICT security confidence-building measures

OSCE - Wed, 09/27/2023 - 17:23
553762 Communication and Media Relations Section Alexandra Taylor

The OSCE Secretariat’s Transnational Threats Department organized a workshop on coordinated vulnerability disclosure (CVD) - a process of managing vulnerabilities in Information and Communication Technology systems that reduces their harm.

On 26 and 27 September, experts from across the OSCE presented good practices and examples of national implementation during a workshop in Istanbul.

“It is ever more crucial to act in a timely manner in case vulnerabilities arise. We attach great importance to the CVD-mechanism, as it allows organizations that have been affected to quickly remedy any vulnerabilities and limit loss or damage as much as possible. That is why CVD is an important step in making cyberspace more stable and secure,” said Ömer Abdullah Karagözoğlu, Chairman of the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) of the Republic of Türkiye in his opening remarks.

Thirty-four participants from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, Central Asia, South Caucasus and Mongolia improved their understanding of CVD and engaged in a practical exercise delivered by the National Cyber Security Centre of the Netherlands.

“This course is perfect for furthering the debate on CVD and taking the next steps. The many different States being represented here today will allow for an inclusive debate where we can learn from each other and collectively move forward. After all, cybersecurity is a joint-initiative where the consequences of unknown vulnerabilities transcend national borders,” said Arjen Uijterlinde, Consul General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Istanbul.

The training course is part of the “Activities and customized support for the implementation of OSCE cyber/ICT security confidence-building measures” project, which is receiving support from the Netherlands financially and in terms of the subject matter.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE trains law enforcement and criminal justice practitioners in asset recovery

OSCE - Wed, 09/27/2023 - 15:59
553747 Communication and Media Relations Section Alexandra Taylor

The OSCE and the Agency for Management of Seized and Confiscated Property trained law enforcement and criminal justice practitioners in asset recovery pre-seizure planning.

The training course - held in Skopje, North Macedonia, on 26 and 27 September - covered sessions on the institutional and legal framework in North Macedonia, good practices from other jurisdictions, and planning modalities for different types of assets, including real estate, vehicles, businesses and others. The course focused on inter-institutional co-operation throughout the asset recovery process. Participants also shared their institutional challenges and proposed ways to address them.

“Confiscation failures start with a lack of pre-seizure planning”, said Thomas J. Abernathy, a subject-matter expert with twenty-five years of experience working with the United States Marshals Service.

Co-ordination and planning among the institutions involved in the asset recovery cycle are prerequisites for the effective recovery of criminal assets. Seizing criminal assets without meticulous planning may result in financial liabilities for seizing authorities, operational challenges, and pose risks to those involved in the process.

The training course was organized within the framework of the extra-budgetary project “Strengthening Asset Recovery Efforts in the OSCE Region”, implemented jointly by the Transnational Threats Department and the Office of the OSCE Co-ordinator for Economic and Environmental Affairs, with the financial support of Austria, Germany, Italy, and the United States.

Categories: Central Europe

Good practices for administration of elections in the Western Balkans the focus of conference in Sarajevo

OSCE - Wed, 09/27/2023 - 11:35
553711 Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz

Improving the practices of election management bodies (EMBs) in the Western Balkans region was the main topic of a conference held in Sarajevo on 26 and 27 September 2023. The event was organized as part of the ODIHR project “Support to Electoral Reforms in the Western Balkans”, in co-operation with the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Over 50 participants (17 women and 33 men), including representatives of EMBs, civil society and local and international election experts, discussed key principles that stem from international commitments and good electoral practices, and how such principles guide the work of EMBs and provide the basis for assessment by election observers. Specific attention was paid to the activities of the election administration, new and recurring challenges, and the innovative solutions adopted to address such challenges.

“Organizing elections fully in line with OSCE commitments can indisputably be a challenging task for any EMB,” said Meaghan Fitzgerald, Head of ODIHR Elections Department. “At the same time, as election-related processes gradually evolve and modernize, the duties and oversight functions of EMBs have expanded and become more complex. They are facing recurrent challenges, such as promoting public trust and accountability in election administration, enhancing the effective and transparent planning of activities, securing engagement in legal reform initiatives, but also new challenges like using information communication technology to boost effectiveness and increase inclusivity.”

The discussion highlighted the need to further strengthen co-operation and partnerships between EMBs, civil society organizations and international organizations to enhance engagement in addressing observation recommendations related to election administration.

“Better co-operation among all electoral stakeholders is crucial if we want to address the many old and new challenges facing EMBs across our region,” said Suad Arnautović, Chairperson of the Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Preserving the independence and impartiality of EMBs is particularly a growing challenge, which deserves greater attention and joint solutions.”

During the event, ODIHR presented its new Handbook for the Observation of Election Administration, which provides detailed guidance on such aspects and processes and explains how they are assessed by ODIHR observation missions.

The 2021 – 2023 ODIHR project “Support to Electoral Reforms in the Western Balkans” is funded by the European Union and the Austrian Development Agency.

Categories: Central Europe

ODIHR observers to Moldova’s local elections to hold press conference on Thursday

OSCE - Wed, 09/27/2023 - 09:45

Chişinău, 27 September 2023 – Observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) will hold a press conference on the opening of the observation mission to the forthcoming local elections in Moldova on Thursday, 28 September.


  • An introduction to the role of the ODIHR election observation mission and its planned activities


  • Corien Jonker, Head of the ODIHR election observation mission


  • 15:00 local time (GMT +3) on 28 September 2023


The press conference will take place on Zoom only. Please register by 12:00 local time on 28 September using the following link.

For further information on ODIHR’s election observation activities in Moldova, please visit:

Media Contact:        

Elma Šehalić, Media Analyst: or +373 69 31 48 21

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Chairpersonship of North Macedonia convenes reinforced meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council

OSCE - Tue, 09/26/2023 - 19:50

To address the current issues related to the overall functioning of the Organization, the OSCE Chairpersonship of North Macedonia convened today a reinforced meeting of the Permanent Council at the ministerial level.

The OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Foreign Minister of North Macedonia Bujar Osmani, said: “The OSCE is facing unprecedented risks and challenges that require immediate resolution. As our Chairpersonship motto says ‘It’s about people’ and for them we need to sit at this table and discuss solutions.”

“Peace, stability and co-operative security today in the OSCE region are shattered. The Russian war of aggression against Ukraine continues to take innocent lives and cause widespread suffering. The continuation of this war harms our Organization too – it challenges its relevance and purpose,” he added.

Almost all OSCE participating States underlined the importance of the OSCE as an Organization with its unique, comprehensive, approach to security. They expressed their support to the prompt call for action to enable a functional and effective OSCE.

“The challenges ahead are enormous and we should act together in overcoming them. It is a ripe time to substantiate our declarations that we care about this Organization. The OSCE exists and works for the people, it can and it will deliver, carried by the waves of support that we witnessed today. It is for these reasons that we have to support and ensure its functionality,” concluded Chairman Osmani.

The OSCE participating States were represented by foreign ministers and high-level officials. The meeting took place at the Hofburg in Vienna and was held in a blended format.

Categories: Central Europe

Agencies exchange best practices in cross-border asset recovery during OSCE-supported Balkan Asset Management Interagency Network event

OSCE - Tue, 09/26/2023 - 12:00
553621 Communication and Media Relations Section Alexandra Taylor

Representatives of twenty-two asset management agencies from across the OSCE area exchanged best practices in cross-border recovery and management of seized and confiscated criminal assets. They met from 20 to 22 September in Chisinau, Moldova for the Annual General Meeting of the Balkan Asset Management Interagency Network (BAMIN), currently presided by the Republic of Moldova.

“Fighting corruption is a priority of the current government. In this context, the Ministry of Justice is undertaking all the necessary actions to ensure that the mechanisms for identifying and confiscating illegally obtained assets contribute to the efficiency of their recovery for the benefit of the state and the citizens of the Republic of Moldova,” said Minister of Justice of the Republic of Moldova Veronica Mihailov-Moraru in her opening remarks.

“This event has international significance. It advances the management of criminal assets, establishes cross-agency co-operation, and allows an exchange of experience and operational data - all indispensable for solving cross-border crimes and repatriating the proceeds of crime,” highlighted Iulian Rusu, Director of the National Anti-corruption Centre.

Jill Thomas, Head of the BAMIN Secretariat, explained that “Locating and seizing criminal assets concealed in various jurisdictions is legally and procedurally challenging. Once the assets are seized, their value should be preserved until the case has been concluded. It is crucial that the authorities involved in international mutual legal assistance share their expertise through BAMIN.”   

BAMIN is an informal network supported by the OSCE Transnational Threats Department and the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities. Created in 2017 to improve managing, selling, returning, and disposing of confiscated criminal assets in South-Eastern Europe, it has since become a multi-agency platform for expertise exchange. 

It is a part of the “Strengthening Asset Recovery Efforts in the OSCE Region” project, financially supported by Austria, Germany, Italy and the United States.

Categories: Central Europe

Albania’s School of Magistrates kicks off new course on environmental legislation developed with OSCE Presence support

OSCE - Tue, 09/26/2023 - 11:50
553609 Baseline assessment on the inspection, investigation and punishment of environmental contraventions and crimes in Albania

On 25 September 2023, OSCE Presence in Albania and the School of Magistrates held a joint ceremony to launch a new course on environmental legislation and judicial enforcement mechanisms. 

The one-semester course – part of the initial education program for magistrate students – focuses on administrative, civil and criminal aspects of international and domestic environmental legislation. It was developed by a joint team of international and national experts brough together by the OSCE Presence in Albania.

Addressing the event, Head of the OSCE Presence in Albania Ambassador Bruce Berton said: “The new course will empower the future prosecutors and magistrates to be catalysts for positive change, ensuring that Albania's natural wealth is protected and cherished for generations to come”.

Albert Rakipi, Director of the School of Magistrates, thanked the Presence for the support in developing the course, and announced that the School board has approved the course which will kick off this academic year.

Taking into consideration the growing concerns for complex and organized environmental crimes, the new course will support the capacities of upcoming generations of prosecutors and judges to adequately tackle and deal with environmental cases and bring perpetrators to justice. It will equip the future prosecutors and magistrates with the knowledge and tools to address environmental challenges, enforce environmental laws, and safeguard the rights of citizens who seek justice in environmental matters. This will significantly lead to an enhanced effectiveness of law enforcement agencies’ response against environmental contraventions and crimes.

The course was developed under the extra-budgetary project to enhance environmental governance and security in Albania implemented by the OSCE Presence in Albania and supported by the governments of Norway, France and Italy.

The OSCE Presence will continue supporting national authorities in enhancing environmental governance and security in Albania.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE trains Turkmenistan’s officials in digital forensics

OSCE - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 17:43

The OSCE Secretariat’s Transnational Threats Department (TNTD) and the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat held a course on digital forensics at the Institute of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Turkmenistan from 19 to 22 September 2023.

Delivered by international experts, the course introduced over twenty representatives – from the Turkmenistan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Office of the Prosecutor General and the Cybersecurity Services of the “Turkmenaragatnashyk” Agency – to digital forensics, computer data, as well as open-source data analysis tools.

“Today, electronic evidence is crucial. Digital devices are involved in the majority of investigations and can contain critical evidence, regardless of whether the crime took place online or offline,” said Ion Gaina, Head of the IT forensic department at the Forensic and Judicial Expertise Centre of the General Inspectorate of Moldovan Police.

“With the widespread use of digital technologies, digital forensics has become an increasingly important field, and digital forensic capacities are essential to secure electronic evidence that can be used in criminal proceedings,” underlined Giorgi Pirveli, Head of the National Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) under the Ministry of Justice of Georgia.

The course was delivered as part of the extra-budgetary project “Capacity Building on Combating Cybercrime in Central Asia”, funded by the United States, Germany and the Republic of Korea.

This was the second national training event in Turkmenistan that took place as part of this project. The first training course on cybercrime and digital evidence was delivered in May for the same group of participants, with a third course envisaged for November 2023.

Categories: Central Europe

How do law enforcement agencies work with social welfare offices, shelters and civil society to combat human trafficking?

OSCE - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 17:05
553606 Nino Sukhitashvili OSCE Mission to Moldova

The OSCE supported the first national simulation exercise that united the entire Moldovan anti-human trafficking community. During a five-day simulated exercise, 80 practitioners from law enforcement agencies, social welfare officials, prosecutors, magistrates, and civil society organizations worked together in a single simulated exercise to identify and assist victims of trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation and to detain and prepare judicial cases against traffickers. 

“You practiced coordinating and prioritizing your load of work to find trafficking victims, and keep them safe and away from the traffickers who had enslaved them. You overcame those irritating daily obstacles to work together to find and prosecute those international criminals who imprison people in sexual or labor slavery. You showed trafficking criminals that there are no gaps in Moldova’s anti-trafficking community and that the criminals will have a hard time moving trafficked people through Moldova. You showed current and potential victims that Moldova will take care of them.  If anyone wondered whether Moldova has the advanced tools to fight trafficking, let them wonder no longer. You’ve shown us that together, yes, you can fight the most despicable, pernicious of traffickers,” said Ambassador Kelly Keiderling, Head of the OSCE Mission to Moldova.

Participants highly appreciated this innovative simulation-based training, which gave them the possibility to turn their knowledge into practice and to enhance the co-operation between the institutions for the benefit of the victims of trafficking for sexual and labour exploitation.

The OSCE Mission to Moldova organized this 18-22 September exercise in co-operation with the Moldovan State Chancellery and the OSCE Office of the Special Representative and Co-ordinator for Combating Trafficking in Human Beings. This simulation exercise was hosted by the Ștefan cel Mare Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and organized within the framework of the Mission’s project “Ending trafficking in human-beings by fostering multi-agency collaboration and strengthening the civil society organizations  capacity across both banks of the Dniester/Nistru River”, aimed at enhancing of co-ordination mechanisms to prevent and respond in an integrated manner to trafficking in human beings.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE initiates regional dialogue in South-Eastern Europe on interconnections of climate change, air pollution and health, inspiring local action

OSCE - Mon, 09/25/2023 - 09:26

On 21 September, 40 participants representing municipalities, civil society organizations, and academia from South-Eastern Europe convened in Sarajevo to discuss the impacts of climate change and air pollution on health, and to explore local solutions. The meeting was organized by the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) in collaboration with the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The OSCE-adelphi report Regional Assessment for South-Eastern Europe: Security implications of climate change identified air pollution as a major challenge in the region, underscoring its profound health ramifications. Coal power plants emerge as primary air pollution hotspots in the region, followed by cities and urban areas. Climate change, in turn, aggravates air pollution through elevated ground-level ozone and particulate matter levels. This complex interplay between air pollution and climate change poses significant health and livelihood concerns.

“As real issues affecting people’s lives, addressing climate change, air pollution and public health challenges should be a top priority for our region’s high-level decision makers,” said Brian Aggeler, Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, during his opening remarks.  “This meeting is a great opportunity to learn from each other, to hear about successful initiatives from the region and beyond and to strengthen partnerships as we address common challenges,” he added.

“Today, we are launching a regional initiative in South-Eastern Europe to connect municipalities, civil society organizations and academia, fostering collaboration to reduce the health impacts of air pollution and climate change,” said Esra Buttanri, Senior Climate Change Adviser at OCEEA. “The concrete project ideas crafted by stakeholders today will serve as the foundation for this collaboration, while also nurturing good neighborly relations.”

Scholars from Imperial College London and the University of the Peloponnese, alongside experts from UNECE, UNICEF, and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, contributed their invaluable expertise and insights to the discussion.

The regional kick-off meeting “Climate change and security in South Eastern Europe: Tackling challenges at the interface of air pollution and health” was organized within the framework of the OSCE extra-budgetary project “Strengthening responses to security risks from climate change in South-Eastern Europe, Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus, and Central Asia”, which is implemented by OCEEA in partnership with adelphi and funded by Andorra, Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. The project is part of the OSCE’s active effort to support its participating States in implementing the 2021 OSCE Ministerial Council Decision on climate change.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission, European Union in BiH and Sarajevo University hold 3rd Media Law School in Jahorina

OSCE - Sun, 09/24/2023 - 11:27
3rd Media Law School Željka Šulc

Jahorina, 24 September 2023 – From 20 to 25 September, the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the European Union in BiH and the Law School of the University of Sarajevo held in Jahorina the 3rd Media Law School on “The right to privacy in the digital era”.

Media Law School is an accredited (3 ECTS points) non-cyclic program of the University of Sarajevo – Faculty of Law. 

The five-day event enabled 17 law students from all public law faculties in BiH to explore the complexities surrounding privacy rights in the modern era of digital communication and information exchange, and the responsibilities of the state under relevant articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

„One of the main goals of the Media Law School is to introduce the students early on in their legal education to the relevance of Media law for the adequate functioning of the media landscape and safeguarding the freedom of expression, as one of the fundamental freedoms  every democratic society is based on. In the last years, the emerging technologies had a great impact on how media content is created, offered and preceived and posed a question on how to strike a balance between freedom of expression and privacy rights in the online world. As a consequence, the topic of the 3rd Media Law School was „Right to privacy in the digital age“, in order to provide the students with the latest practical and legislative trends in this context.“, said Dr. iur. Iza Razija Mešević, Vice-Dean for International cooperation of the Faculty of law.

“Currently, the picture for freedom of expression in Bosnia and Herzegovina is highly concerning, with journalists operating in a hostile environment for media freedom. Media law is a rapidly evolving field, with new technologies constantly changing the information environment and posing significant potential threats to fundamental freedoms. This is why it is important that future legal professionals are aware of the current evolving jurisprudence on media law, and its impact on the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. It is encouraging that 18 students from across BiH elected to take part in this Law School”. Said Ferdinand Koenig, Head of Communications/Spokesperson of the EU in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

“For us in the OSCE, international human rights standards that have been discussed during this programme form a crucial part of our work in the country.” said Rebecca Agule, Acting Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH Human Dimension Department. “ The Media Law School is envisaged as a combination of theoretical and practical work, and I am happy to see students from across BiH had a chance over the past five days to delve into those topics from distinguished first hand experts from the academia, media community and civil society.” she added.

The Media Law School represents the continuation of the OSCE Mission's and EU work in the field of promotion and protection of media freedom.

In addition to lectures, students also worked on hypothetical cases and took part in simulated trials.

Categories: Central Europe

Open letter by Ambassador Brian Aggeler, Head of the OSCE Mission to BiH, to the members of the Republika Srpska National Assembly

OSCE - Fri, 09/22/2023 - 16:43

Dear Members of the Republika Srpska National Assembly,

As democratically elected representatives, you have agreed to fulfill the solemn obligation of representing the best interests of your constituencies. In light of this responsibility to the electorate, on behalf of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (Mission), I raise deep concerns regarding pending legislation that could seriously and negatively impact everyone living in the Republika Srpska (RS).

As you are certainly aware, RS authorities have unfortunately decided to move forward with adopting the Law on the Special Registry and Publicity of the Work of Non-Profit Organizations. If adopted, this law would profoundly and severely violate the basic human rights of citizens in the RS and Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) own international and domestic commitments, including rights enshrined in the constitutions of both BiH and the RS.

Commonly – and misleadingly – referred to as the “Foreign Agents Law,” this law would impinge on the right to freedom of association by critically reducing the already rapidly shrinking space for the functioning of civil society organizations, the independent media and human rights defenders in the RS. This law would further prevent co-operation with international partners and organizations, including those of which BiH is itself a member.

While RS authorities have attempted to frame this law as promoting transparency, it could be easily weaponized to stigmatize and restrict the aforementioned local actors, all of whom are already operating under difficult and constrained conditions in the RS. Civil society organizations, the independent media and human rights defenders play indispensable roles in any democratic society.

The involvement of diverse individuals, associations, groups, organizations and institutions is vital in ensuring the fulfillment of and respect for fundamental human rights. Thriving functional democracies rest on the protection of these fundamental human rights, including the freedom of association. In turn, this enables citizens to come together to realize and enjoy many other rights.

The freedom of association and related human rights enable civil society organizations to create space for discourse, raise the awareness of the public and of institutions on essential issues, enable engagement across all levels of decision- and policy-making, and provide live and virtual town squares in which ideas are shared and developed.

Both domestic and international law protect these crucial functions. Societies cannot grow, develop or heal if citizens lack the freedom to connect and cooperate with those who share their values, engage in discourse where there are disagreements, and work on core social, cultural, political or economic causes. Put plainly, a society without freedom of association would not be a democratic society. In light of this, governmental authorities in democratic societies must respect the peaceful expression of differing and dissenting views, and, as a consequence, must publicly acknowledge – through action, law and policy – the important and legitimate role of civil society organizations, independent media and human rights defenders.

Concerned that these rights were under threat, and based on the draft law, the Mission requested a formal assessment by the OSCE’s Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, which provides support, assistance and expertise to OSCE participating States and civil society to promote democracy, rule of law, human rights, tolerance and non-discrimination. ODIHR then invited the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission, which assists CoE member states in ensuring compliance with European and international standards shaping democracy, human rights and the rule of law, to issue a joint Opinion that enumerated severe deficiencies of the draft and urged the RS Government to reconsider its adoption entirely.

Specific concerns highlighted in the joint Opinion include issues regarding onerous reporting requirements and an increase in governmental inspections, both of which seem designed to impede the basic functionality of these originations. Statutory limits on the participation of civil society organizations in political activities or action, without a clear definition of what that would constitute, impose limits on the fundamental right of association.

Further, the requirement that civil society organizations be included in the special registry, as well as certain labelling obligations, would likely lead to the stigmatization and side-lining of these organizations. Finally, this law would allow for the banning of civil society organizations absent objective and necessary criteria. Based on an objective reading, this draft text is excessively vague and ambiguous, making it difficult to anticipate potential abuse and violations, thereby undermining the principle of legal certainty.

Further, the law makes it very difficult, if not impossible, for civil society organizations to co-operate with international organizations, including the OSCE, or to work on any human rights issues. As an OSCE participating State, BiH committed itself to upholding relevant international human rights standards and OSCE human dimension commitments, noting the latter includes more than 10 unanimous commitments adopted over the last 30 years, including but not limited to the Copenhagen Document, which guarantees, amongst others, the right of association; the Moscow Document, which enumerates the narrow conditions under which such rights may be derogated; and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe, which affirms the freedoms of association and peaceful assembly. Per these commitments, governmental institutions in BiH, including elected bodies, have an obligation to institute and implement legal frameworks that protect both these rights and those who rely upon them.

This draft law, if adopted, would clearly and meaningfully contravene these commitments, commitments voluntarily undertaken by BiH as a member of the OSCE. In doing so, it would violate the rights of citizens in the RS by denying them access to and the enjoyment of their fundamental rights.

Following other regressive actions that restrict the enjoyment of fundamental freedoms in the RS, including the recent re-criminalization of defamation through amendments to the RS Criminal Code, the Mission views this so-called “Foreign Agents “ as yet another serious step backwards from the full enjoyment and preservation of human rights and fundamental freedoms.All elected officials must refrain from taking any action that would undermine these rights. This includes immediately and permanently rejecting this draft law and any other similarly regressive legislation and further ensuring that all future legislation complies with the international and domestic human rights standards to which BiH has obligated itself.

The OSCE shares these grave concerns as a sincere and committed partner to promoting a better life for all citizens, and we are prepared to support all willing authorities aiming to do the same.

The Mission further remains committed to support the work of the civil society organizations, human rights defenders and independent media under attack by this and related legislation. We welcome continued engagement on this and other issues of mutual concern.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission to BiH Deputy Head Thomas Busch visits Lukavac, Lopare, Skelani and Srebrenica

OSCE - Fri, 09/22/2023 - 15:14
OSCEBiH DHoM visits Srebrenica, Lopare, Skelani, Lukavac Željka Šulc

SARAJEVO, 22 September 2023 – The Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Thomas Busch, paid a three-day visit to Srebrenica, Lukavac, Lopare and Skelani. During his trip, he attended the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica Genocide Memorial Centre, met with officials and members of the Majevica Inter Municipal Working Group and the EUFOR LOT Vlasenica, and handed over equipment for a school playground in Skelani. 

On 20 September, Deputy Busch visited the EUFOR LOT Vlasenica to discuss security situation in the area.

Following the meeting, Deputy Busch visited the Srebrenica Memorial Centre, where he paid his respects to genocide victims and survivors on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica Memorial Centre.

“The Srebrenica Memorial Centre is a vital testament to remember, learn, and prevent. The dedication to imperatives of remembrance and the pursuit of justice are paramount to ensure that Srebrenica genocide remains engraved in our collective memory while justice prevails,” said Deputy Busch.

On 21 September, Deputy Busch met with Mayor of Lukavac Edin Delić to discuss the current political situation, the community and authorities’ responses to recent incidents in the area, and future plans for co-operation between the city administration and the Mission.

During his meeting with the Mayor of Lopare and members of the Majevica Inter Municipal Working Group, Deputy Busch expressed his appreciation and support for the efforts invested in building a strong cross-entity and inter-municipal partnership, ultimately contributing to the enhancement of social cohesion in the Majevica area.

“The Majevica Group exemplifies how genuine commitment and political will can drive a real change and tangible impact for concrete benefits. The work done by five mayors from the Majevica area and members of the Inter Municipal Working Group inspires confidence that more communities in BiH will embrace cross-municipal and cross-entity cooperation, delivering concrete benefits for all citizens”, said Busch.

On 22 September, Deputy Busch handed over school playground equipment to Skelani Primary School "Kosta Todorović”, as part of the Mission’s support for community initiatives aiming to revitalize local infrastructure and improve the school environment. On this occasion, he also met with Srebrenica Mayor Mladen Grujičić and school director Ljubinko Katanić to discuss the situation of youth in the community.

The OSCE remains a reliable and dedicated partner to BiH, its citizens, and institutions. The Mission to BiH is fully committed to supporting and promoting positive initiatives aimed at advancing the quality of life and wellbeing of all citizens.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE organizes course on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism for students in Turkmenistan

OSCE - Fri, 09/22/2023 - 12:58
553507 OSCE Centre in Ashgabat

Some forty-five students from the Turkmen State Institute of Finance attended an OSCE-organized training course on Anti-Money Laundering and Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) that took place in a hybrid format from 18 to 22 September 2023.

The OSCE Centre in Ashgabat organized the five-day course to raise the awareness of students about AML/CFT international standards and share best practices of the OSCE participating States in preventing and countering this financial crime.

An international expert provided insights into the AML/CFT policy and co-ordination and elaborated on preventive measures in the AML/CFT area. The course also addressed money laundering and confiscation as well as transparency and beneficial ownership of legal persons and entities.

William Leaf, Acting Economic and Environmental Officer of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat, referred to the Basel Declaration on Youth adopted at the OSCE Ministerial Council in 2014,  in which the OSCE participating States “acknowledged the potential of young people to contribute to economic, political and social development, and that they can support participating States in the implementation of commitments in all three dimensions of the OSCE.

“It is my firm belief that our training courses for students who may join the Financial Monitoring Service and other structures of the national AML/CFT system in a near future will enhance the sustainability of the host country’s efforts to advance the AML/CFT system,” said Leaf.

The training course also introduced students to the Financial Action Task Force standards and relevant national legislation. The student shared their views on powers and responsibilities of competent authorities and other institutional measures on the AML/CFT related issues.

Categories: Central Europe

The OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan supports a regional workshop on “National Cyber Incident Classification”

OSCE - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 19:34
553468 Communication and Media Relations Section Alexandra Taylor

The OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan supports a “National Cyber Incident Classification” workshop for representatives of participating States from Central Asia and South Caucasus as well as from Mongolia on 21 and 22 September 2023 in Tashkent. The workshop is organized by the OSCE Secretariat’s Transnational Threats Department (TNTD), in co-operation with the Cyber Security Center Uzbekistan.

The workshop gathered experts in the cyber/ICT security field from Central Asia, South Caucasus and Mongolia, security officials and ICT experts. Discussions aimed to raise awareness on the importance of national cyber incident classification and enable an exchange of good practices in national cyber incident classification systems across the OSCE area.

"Establishing national cyber incident classification system is key to improve crisis management at national level as well as to build trust and mutual understanding at regional and international levels" - noted Mahé Dersoir, Policy Officer in the Cyber Policy Unit of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs “Our primary objective in organizing this event is to raise awareness about the critical importance of national cyber incident classification. We aim to promote, assist, and foster the implementation of national cyber incident severity scales throughout the OSCE region. In doing so, we seek to enhance our collective preparedness and response capabilities in the face of evolving cyber threats” – emphasized Mr. Sergei Sizov, Acting OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan.

The workshop was delivered as part of the “Facilitation of the development and implementation of national cyber incident severity scales (NCISS) and related measures to protect critical infrastructures” project, which is funded by France and Germany.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission publishes court reporting guidelines for journalists in Kosovo

OSCE - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 16:09
Jeff Bieley Edita Buçaj Court Reporting – Guidelines for Journalists

Prishtinë/Priština, 21 September 2023 –The OSCE Mission published today a set of guidelines for reporting on courts to assist journalists in Kosovo in their work and contribute to responsible and informed journalism. The guidelines offer comprehensive support for journalists navigating the Kosovo court system and emphasize ethical and legal considerations in reporting on the judiciary.

The document covers three key areas: court reporting, privacy and protection standards, and legal and normative frameworks. The guidelines also include quick-reference dos and don'ts, highlighting the importance of maintaining ethical standards, respecting privacy, and upholding the presumption of innocence.

“Journalists reporting on legal proceedings in any democratic society have a duty and responsibility to provide accurate information, while at the same time upholding and respecting the integrity of the judicial system,” said Ambassador Michael Davenport, Head of the OSCE Mission in Kosovo.

“It is our sincere hope that these Guidelines will contribute to freedom of expression being safeguarded and justice being served, both inside and outside the courtroom,” he added.

The document urges journalists to exercise caution when reporting on minors and vulnerable adults, obtaining consent and protecting identities when necessary. It also emphasizes the significance of adhering to codes of conduct and self-regulatory tools, such as the Independent Media Commission's Code of Ethics for Media Service Providers and the Press Council of Kosovo's Press Code.

As follow-up, the OSCE Mission will distribute the guidelines in various mock trial workshops to students of law and journalism in November.

The OSCE Mission has been supporting the development of free and independent media since 1999, as part of its mandate to support human rights protection and promotion, democratization and public safety sector development

The guidelines are available here:

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE course helps Tajik border troops improve skills for securing the Tajik-Afghan border

OSCE - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 11:18
Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe

On 15 September 2023, the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe (the Office) in co-operation with Tajikistan’s Border Troops concluded a one-month training course “Sustaining Field Operational Capacities” (SFOC). The course was conducted by a national expert and supported by assistant instructors from the Tajik Border Troops, leveraging local expertise while fostering sustainable internal training capacities.   

Twenty-four officers from the Special Units of Tajikistan’s Border Troops were able to improve skills relevant to their vital mission of securing the 1,374 km-long Tajik-Afghan border. The course which was held in the Border Troops Regional Training Facility in Khorog (GBAO) covered a range of topics including map reading, land navigation, pathfinding, reconnaissance and security operations and reporting, first aid, night observation, alpine/mountaineering, gender and human rights-sensitive border security operations, and risk assessment. The participants were also introduced to Google Earth Pro geospatial mapping and analysis software to help plan tactical-level border security operations.  

On 8 September 2023, Jon Casey, the project manager responsible for SFOC accompanied Jukka Tuononen, the OSCE Officer in Charge and Head of the Politico-Military Department, and Lillian Langford, Policy Support Officer at the OSCE’s Conflict Prevention Centre in Vienna to visit the Regional Training Facility and observe the ongoing training. The delegation highlighted the importance of practical skills training such as is taught in SFOC in building the capacity of the Tajik Border Troops; and the importance of strengthening the Tajik border as essential for the overall security of Central Asia and the OSCE Region.   

To date, 689 officers of the Special Units of the Tajik Border Troops have completed the SFOC course since it first began in 2018. Moreover, 72 course graduates have returned to serve as assistant instructors for the SFOC course, helping to conduct internal training on these important skills. SFOC training is conducted within the framework of the 2nd phase of the Project “Patrol Field Capacity Building of the Tajik Border Troops (PFCB)” financed by France and implemented by the Office. The course is part of the Office’s multi-year efforts to support Tajikistan’s border security response capabilities.     

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE builds capacity on international trade for landlocked Tajikistan

OSCE - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 11:09
Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe

From 13 to 14 September, the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe (POiD) arranged a two-day training on the basics of international trade and logistics for the representatives of line ministries and agencies. The event aimed at promoting a better understanding of the policies and regulations governing international trade with a focus on geographically landlocked countries, which includes Tajikistan.

The training was attended by 23 participants (9 women and 14 men). The participants represented mid-level management of their respective state institutions, including the Export Promotion Agency, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, Chamber of Commerce, and Customs Service. The training was complemented from different standpoints both on advantages and on disadvantages concerning, for example, compliance with the Registered Exporters System and the benefits of obtaining a GSP+ (Generalized Scheme of Preferences Plus) certificate for the goods exporting to the EU market. Upon completion of the training, the international trainer handed over certificates to the participants.

The Office will continue to support Tajikistan’s economic development via trade facilitation and the free flow of goods and services to boost investment potential. This is part of a broader effort by the OSCE to strengthen trade links between countries and promote their regional integration and participation in international commerce.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE organizes human rights training for secondary school teachers in Khorog

OSCE - Thu, 09/21/2023 - 10:04
Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe

From 15 to 16 September, the Programme Office in Dushanbe (the Office) supported the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner in organizing a two-day training on Human Rights. The training brought together 20 (19 women and 1 man) human rights teachers from secondary schools of Khorog (GBAO) and surrounding areas.

Two national trainers (both male) provided the training which was focused on enabling the participants to learn about both international and national human rights standards. Participants also familiarized themselves with new pedagogical methods for teaching human rights curricula in secondary schools. It was the third of three such events which the Office supported in 2023.

The activity is a component of the State Programme on Human Rights Education under the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner. It is part of OSCE’s broader work in strengthening and promoting the protection of human rights including by providing technical support to human rights bodies.

Categories: Central Europe


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