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1.5 million young people in Kyrgyzstan reached with OSCE campaign on youth crime prevention and integrity

OSCE - Wed, 10/04/2023 - 09:42

The OSCE awareness campaign on youth crime prevention and integrity, launched in June 2023, achieved the milestone of reaching one and a half million young people across Kyrgyzstan on 29 September 2023.

Featuring some of Kyrgyzstan’s leading influencers, bloggers, artists, youth activists and athletes, the campaign showcases the stories of these local celebrities and how they pursued their passions, built successful businesses and gave back to their communities, all while adhering to the values of lawfulness and integrity.

The campaign features Aigerim Akylbekova, a Kyrgyz journalist and activist, who reflects on her upbringing and the challenges of her childhood marked by high levels of unemployment. Aigerim shares how in the pursuit of a better life, some people opted for shortcuts, relying on bribery and corrupt activities.

“Since childhood I believed that I could achieve everything on my own without resorting to nepotism or bribes,” Aigerim says. “Often, people choose unjust ways to excel in life. Many do this out of desperation – coming from a life of difficulty. Still, this sets us all back. Change can only begin with zero tolerance for dishonesty and corruption,” she adds.

Meerim Tolepbergen, a Kyrgyz blogger with over one million Instagram followers, is also actively involved in the campaign. She discusses the key factors contributing to youth crime, drawing from her own experience as child of migrants. Children separated from their parents often grapple with self-doubt and may seek support from potentially harmful peer groups, she says, leading to possible involvement in organized crime. Meerim underscores the significance of addressing this issue and choosing a different path.

“I pursed arts and creativity, successfully auditioning and becoming the host of a musical TV programme. I believe in a bright future for all of us in Kyrgyzstan through education, honest work, and talent,” Meerim says.

The stories of Meerim and Aigerim, alongside the others in the campaign, aim to inspire and guide young people in Kyrgyzstan by offering real-life positive examples of those who have achieved their goals through legal, ethical, and productive methods.

The awareness campaign, organized by the OSCE’s Transnational Threat Department and Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, is part of the OSCE-wide multi-year project, “Enhancing Youth Crime and Drug Use Prevention through Education on Legality and Awareness Campaigns Addressing Threats of Organized Crime and Corruption”, funded by Germany. Other donors supporting this project are Andorra, Italy and Poland.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE strengthens the capacities of media professionals on open data journalism

OSCE - Wed, 10/04/2023 - 09:23

On 28 and 29 September, the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan (PCUz) delivered a capacity-building programme on open data for media professionals. The training, which was co-organized with the Statistics Agency under the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan and took place at the PCUz office in Tashkent, gathered 23 journalists and bloggers.

The growing availability of open data in the country, including via the online publication of data-sets by government agencies, creates new opportunities for journalism and contributes to an increasing demand for data-based information.

The two-day training organized by the PCUz aimed to improve the skills of media community representatives in using open data. It also focused on developing practical skills in the collection, treatment and presentation of compelling and appealing media materials. In this regard, the participants were also trained on the use of modern tools for multimedia journalism and visualization.

By promoting a wider use of open data in journalism, the PCUz supports the production and distribution of fact-based, accurate and verifiable information. The PCUz also encourages citizens to critically engage with the content they consume.

The training is part of the project “Support to Good Governance Reforms”. In this framework, the PCUz assists national stakeholders in the development of an open data ecosystem in Uzbekistan in order to increase the transparency of public institutions and demonstrate the practical applicability of open data. 

Categories: Central Europe

Head of OSCE Mission to Montenegro visits Brezovik military facility

OSCE - Wed, 10/04/2023 - 08:34
554203 Marina Živaljević

In the framework of the OSCE project “Mitigation of Safety and Security Risks related to small arms and light weapons and stockpiles of conventional ammunition in Montenegro”, the Head of the Mission to Montenegro, Dominique Waag, visited Brezovik military facility on 3 October, to see first-hand the results of the support provided by the Mission since 2007.

Major Dragan Rašković, Commander of Brezovik and Taraš ammunition sites, welcomed Ambassador Waag to the facility where she observed an ammunition inspection course conducted by the Austrian Armed Forces through the OSCE project.  The visit included a tour through an ammunition storage house.

“The OSCE appreciates the results of its long-term partnership with the Ministry of Defence, focused on reducing the risk of unplanned explosion at munitions sites and ensuring safe storage of small arms and light weapons and stockpiles of conventional ammunition,” said Ambassador Waag.

She also met with Andreas Bloderer, representing the Austrian Military, the provider of capacity building training courses.

Through this project, 78 participants were trained on ammunition management. In addition, a further ten specialists from the Army, Air Force and Navy were trained on the handling and transportation of explosives, as well as the development of a rulebook to support Ministries of Defence and Interior establish a system to classify ammunition in Montenegro.

The Head of Mission concluded the visit by reemphasising the commitment from the Mission to assist in lifecycle management of ammunition for the benefit of all stakeholders.

This project is funded by the government of Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Montenegro, Norway, Slovakia and Switzerland.

Categories: Central Europe

Election administration as a key to ensuring the rights of voters and candidates the focus of new ODIHR handbook for election observers

OSCE - Tue, 10/03/2023 - 16:16
Illustration from the cover of ODIHR's Handbook for the Observation of Election Administration. Illustration from the cover of ODIHR's Handbook for the Observation of Election Administration. Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz

As part of its ongoing efforts to develop and refine its election observation methodology, the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) launched a new handbook on observing election administration on 3 October 2023, during the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference.

Election management bodies are one of the main guardians of democratic elections, and their activities are central to fostering public confidence in the election process. ODIHR election observation missions pay close attention to the work of election administration bodies, how they ensure transparency, accountability, independence and integrity in their work and how they help voters understand the process.

“We hope this new publication will be a valuable resource not only for election observers, but also for a wider audience, including election practitioners, in understanding how the activities of the election administration comply with cornerstone principles of democratic elections, from integrity and legality through effectiveness and transparency to accountability and inclusivity,” said ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci.

The aim of the Handbook for the Observation of Election Administration is to guide ODIHR election observation missions on how to assess the administration of elections, and to provide those managing elections with a useful reference tool on the main principles, standards and commitments they should be upholding. These key measures ODIHR uses to assess the work of election management bodies across the OSCE region were the focus of today’s discussion. Participants benefited from the perspectives of election management practitioners and citizen observers who frequently work together to identify areas where the administration of the election can be improved.

The handbook is the latest in ODIHR’s continued efforts to assist States in fulfilling their commitment to democratic elections through the sharing of good practices.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE empowers grassroot initiatives in Ukraine on developing open data-based solutions

OSCE - Tue, 10/03/2023 - 13:02

On 30 September, the Office of the Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities (OCEEA) concluded a three-month-long, nation-wide small grants programme in Ukraine with the aim of supporting civil society organizations and the private sector in creating digital solutions addressing challenges related to the war. The programme, titled Open Data Unbroken, supports the use of open data to encourage civic participation through innovative technology approaches and tools, establish partnerships among various sectors, and enhance information exchange and networking among local authorities, grassroots initiatives, and public activists.

The programme, which aims to promote the development of a culture of innovation, transparency, and cooperation, included the provision of financial support, a mentoring programme, and access to a community of experts, thereby enabling IT specialists and developers to transform their innovative ideas into tangible solutions that drive positive change in Ukraine.

The three teams selected among 70 applicants each focused on some of the most pressing challenges in the country.  The first project, chatbot “Where is the shelter?”, aims to help citizens find the nearest air-raid shelter in Ukraine. Another chatbot, “Nazar”, assists internally displaced persons in integrating into new environments by searching for employment opportunities across different regions of Ukraine and by introducing a function to simplify and speed up the process of receiving compensation for destroyed housing. The third project, information aggregator “Plant varieties”, supports farmers in making informed decisions with the aim of recovering and revitalizing the agricultural sector.

“The successful conclusion of the programme highlights the crucial role of open data in empowering civil society and the private sector as a means towards tackling the most pressing challenges. Through the implementation of innovative digital solutions at the grassroots level, this initiative serves as a compelling demonstration of the transformative potential of technology in enhancing transparency, efficiency, and cooperation in the digital ecosystem of Ukraine, and underscores the OSCE’s commitment to assisting Ukraine in its digitalization objectives,” said Ralf Ernst, Deputy Co-Ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities /Head, Economic Activities.

“Open data is one of the priorities of the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine, driving innovation, transparency, and trust,” said Mykhailo Fedorov, Vice Prime Minister for Innovation, Development of Education, Science & Technology and Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine. “Ukraine has showcased its significant development in this regard, as shown by ranking second place in the Open Data Maturity Index in 2022. During the full-scale invasion, we’ve faced new challenges within the open data sphere, so projects like ‘Open Data. Unbroken’ help the Government and civil society keep on track with previous commitments on expanding dataset access. Our team is grateful to the OSCE for supporting this endeavour and our dedication to Ukraine's digitalization goals,” he added.

This activity is implemented together with the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine in co-operation with 1991 Accelerator and Social Boost in the framework of the cross-regional ExB project Promoting good governance and a positive business climate in the OSCE region through digitalization and the use of open data, funded by the United States. Poland is the second donor supporting this project.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media urges respect for and protection of media during election period

OSCE - Tue, 10/03/2023 - 12:05

VIENNA, 3 October 2023 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, issued today a communiqué underscoring the pivotal role of media freedom during elections. She urged authorities of all OSCE participating States and electoral contenders to uphold their democratic duty by respecting and safeguarding the crucial democratic role of the media, especially during election periods.

The communiqué highlights that a robust, free, and independent media is foundational to democratic societies, serving as a key catalyst for informed citizenry and fair elections. The electoral period, being a central part of democratic governance, necessitates a media landscape thriving on diverse, accurate information that allows voters to make informed decisions.

“In recent years, we have witnessed a drastic increase in verbal assaults against the media by politicians and candidates, thereby eroding journalistic credibility and public trust in media. Such undermining actions, especially by those who themselves play a key role in the democratic process, are unacceptable as they escalate the risk of assaults on journalists and foment distrust in media,” Ribeiro said.

“In the contemporary fast-paced information ecosystem, safeguarding the media's central democratic role is increasingly challenging. Although this has resulted in new opportunities to access information, it has also generated new threats for the integrity of free and fair democratic elections,” Ribeiro stressed.

At the same time, she underlined the positive potential of new technologies in reinforcing democratic processes. “Social media platforms could significantly contribute to fostering an active and well-informed citizenry. In order to create the right conditions and define the parameters, a collaborative endeavor involving lawmakers, tech companies, civil society, and international organizations is essential,” Ribeiro stated.

The Representative concluded by noting the important role that public service media and media regulators have, especially during election periods. “They need to ensure that candidates and parties in the political process have equitable access to the public, so that the public has access to impartial, accurate and diverse information on election-related issues. In order to do so, public authorities should ensure the impartiality of public service media and the media regulators, with independent board members and independent oversight mechanisms.”

See the Communiqué on Media Freedom during Elections here:

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media observes media developments in all 57 OSCE participating States. She provides early warning on violations of freedom of expression and media freedom and promotes full compliance with OSCE media freedom commitments. Learn more at, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on

Categories: Central Europe

Correction: OSCE Chairman-in-Office Osmani visit to Kyrgyzstan postponed

OSCE - Tue, 10/03/2023 - 09:20

VIENNA/SKOPJE, 3 October 2023 — The visit of OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Macedonia Bujar Osmani, to Kyrgyzstan due to take place on 3 October has been postponed. New dates for the visit will be communicated in due course.

For more information about the 2023 OSCE Chairmanship of North Macedonia, please visit the OSCE website:

Categories: Central Europe

Democracy and human rights must be at the heart of renewed dialogue, OSCE leaders say

OSCE - Mon, 10/02/2023 - 19:23

WARSAW, 2 October 2023 – Building on strong partnerships and returning to genuine dialogue are key to overcoming challenges to human rights and democracy. This was the main message from OSCE leaders today at the opening of a major human rights conference to discuss the condition of human rights and freedoms across the 57 states of the region.

The ten day Warsaw Human Dimension Conference is organized by the 2023 OSCE Chairpersonship of North Macedonia with the support of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The Conference brings together almost 1,500 registered participants from across the OSCE region, representing governments, international organisations, civil society, media, academia, and more.

"The Warsaw Human Dimension Conference is a vital human rights event.  At the heart of any human rights movement is the fundamental belief that every individual, regardless of their background or circumstances, possesses inherent rights and dignity. These rights are universal, indivisible and interdependent. They are not mere abstractions, but are the bedrock upon which peaceful, functioning, inclusive societies are built. This conference forms part and parcel of the OSCE’s ongoing work in the human rights arena," said the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, Foreign Minister of North Macedonia Bujar Osmani.

The OSCE’s work to achieve sustainable security throughout the 57 states of the region is only possible on the basis of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law, and in co-operation with civil society. But the work of civil society activists, whose determination to shed light on human rights abuses is so important for their societies to develop and flourish, is becoming more dangerous in the many places in which they are treated not as partners but as a political and security risk.

“The brave work of civil society activists and human rights defenders lies at the very heart of our democracies,” said ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci. “At the OSCE we are deeply grateful for their courageous work, especially in fragile humanitarian situations resulting from conflicts across our region. We continue to learn from their experience, and we look forward to hearing proposals to improve respect for human rights, as well as their ideas for a better future. In this way, we create a unique platform for genuine dialogue between national authorities and civil society across the entire region.”

The scale of the challenges ahead is clear. As this conference begins, the war against Ukraine continues to rage following Russia’s military attack 20 months ago, with its tragic loss of life and ongoing humanitarian crisis. At the same time, the uncertain security situation in Stepanakert/Khankendi reminds us of the need to respect international law and ensure the protection of civilians. In addition to armed conflicts, there are also growing manifestations of hatred and discrimination in some parts of the OSCE, as well as the all too frequent backsliding on commitment to democratic standards and the rule of law.

“In every region of the OSCE I have heard civil society views on how to respond to the challenges we face. Your views have helped to inform our approach in Vienna, and to guide the work of our field missions. All of our work in the Secretariat and field missions is done based on a human rights centred approach, and the OSCE is committed to working with civil society every step of the way as we advance our efforts in the human dimension. The human dimension is fundamental to the OSCE comprehensive concept of security,” OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid said.

“Media freedom is deeply rooted in the concept and principles of democracy. It is what enables and sustains democratic societies – by providing people with the information they need to be free and self-determined. Quality information and a shared sense of reality are a prerequisite for all citizens to be able to express their will and positions, to take control of their lives, to be part of the glue that holds our societies together. There can be no democracy without media freedom, as much as there can be no security without media freedom,” said Teresa Ribeiro, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.

The full programme and other information about the Warsaw Human Dimension Conference are available here. Other high-level speakers at the conference include Polish Foreign Affairs Minister Zbigniew Rau, Finnish Foreign Affairs Minister Elina Maria Valtonen, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly President Pia Kauma,  and OSCE High Commissioner on National Minorities Kairat Abdrakhmanov, as well as EU Fundamental Rights Agency Director Michael O’Flaherty as keynote speaker.

In addition to plenary sessions dedicated to democratic institutions, fundamental freedoms, tolerance and non-discrimination, the rule of law, and humanitarian issues, as well as media freedom, a range of specific topics will be discussed at close to 80 side events hosted by OSCE states, civil society organizations, ODIHR, and other OSCE institutions. The conference can be followed on social media at #WarsawHDC.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission to Montenegro supports development of e-learning platform for Ministry of Interior

OSCE - Mon, 10/02/2023 - 13:17
554062 Marina Živaljević

Fifteen officials from the Ministry of Interior are equipped with the knowledge and skills to create and upload training content to the police e-learning platform, developed with the support of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro. This was the outcome of two training cycles the Mission organized this year - from 3 to 7 July and from 25 to 29 September.

These training sessions will be followed by a six-week mentorship process led by the Mission’s experts, where each participant will develop a course within their own field of expertise, to be posted on the platform or further developed by the Ministry’s Directorate for police training and development.

These training sessions and accompanying technical equipment, provided by the Mission, increases the Ministry of Interior and its Police Directorate to provide skills training for law enforcement agencies, while reducing the government’s expenses for training and education.

This activity was implemented under the Mission’s project on fostering professionalization, integrity and gender mainstreaming in the police.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE provides training on legal support to survivors of domestic violence

OSCE - Mon, 10/02/2023 - 08:36
554029 Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe

From 25 to 29 September, the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe (the Office) organized a five-day training course for lawyers from the OSCE-supported Women’s Resource Centres (WRCs) and local authorities.  The event was held in Dushanbe and brought together a total of 23 lawyers from the Sughd, Khatlon, Rasht Valley regions, and the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan. The course aimed to train participants on how to provide legal advice and legal assistance to victims of domestic violence and people at risk of experiencing domestic violence.

During the course, participants were familiarized with national and international legal acts in the field of combating domestic violence; grounds and methods of appealing to international courts; research and analysis of innovations of Tajikistan’s Civil Code, and study and analysis of innovations of Tajikistan’s Housing Code. Other topics covered were the study and analysis of the Istanbul Convention; identification (definition) of types of domestic violence based on real cases (analysis of complex cases) and methods of filing applications for claims for shared ownership. Participants engaged in hands-on exercises and group work, which helped them to discuss issues and find solutions.

“The most interesting part of the training, which I liked, was the analysis of the Civil and Housing Codes of the Republic of Tajikistan. In addition, there were practical works on complicated cases of citizens,” said Khursheda Mumin-zade, a lawyer from WRC “ASTI” in Khujand.

The training courses are being implemented within the OSCE’s Women’s Resource Centres project funded by the United States of America, Finland, Norway, Germany, and Andorra.  The training is part of the Office’s ongoing support to the Government of Tajikistan and civil society organizations in preventing and combatting domestic violence including by improving professional support services to survivors. 

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE provides training on psychological support to survivors of domestic violence

OSCE - Mon, 10/02/2023 - 08:30
554026 Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe

From 25 to 29 September, the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe in Dushanbe (the Office) organized a five-day training course for psychologists from the OSCE-supported Women’s Resource Centres and local authorities. The event brought together 23 female psychologists from the Sughd, Khatlon, Rasht Valley regions, and Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region of Tajikistan. 

Participants learned about strategies for coping with traumatic stress, sources of stress; emotional depression; adolescent suicidal and self-destructive behaviour, and a projective test to identify suicidal ideation. Other main topics covered at the event included clinical assessment and screening; the use of psychological tests to determine the psychological characteristics of adolescents; "crisis" situations in adolescence and communication skills.

“I received a lot of needed information, especially communication with parents and the behaviour of adolescents during stress and age-related crises. I was particularly interested in the topic of preventing teenage suicide and its causes. Prevention of teenage suicide is a problem in our modern society and a global concern. We must take this seriously and carefully prevent it,” said Farzona Jafarzoda, Head of the Department of Women and Family Affairs of the State Executive Body of Jaloliddin Balkhi district, Khatlon region. 

The training courses are implemented within the OSCE’s Women’s Resource Centres project funded by the United States of America, Finland, Norway, Germany, and Andorra. The training is part of the Office’s ongoing support to the Government of Tajikistan and civil society organizations in preventing and combatting domestic violence including by improving professional support services to survivors.

Categories: Central Europe

Vetting of candidates to Moldova’s Judicial Council objective and professional, but legislation and transparency could still be improved: ODIHR report

OSCE - Sat, 09/30/2023 - 13:42

WARSAW, 30 September 2023 – Following 14 months of monitoring the evaluation of candidates to the body responsible for the appointment and discipline of judges in Moldova (pre-vetting), the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) found that the procedure is generally objective, fair and professional, and in line with international human rights and rule of law principles. However, the transparency and legal certainty of the evaluation process could be further improved, ODIHR said in a new report

“Our long-term monitoring in Moldova has shown that the country is making progress with its judicial reform, and we offer a number of recommendations to further improve the process moving forward,” said ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci. “As an independent judiciary is indispensable for democracy, it is crucial that any intervention and all stages in the selection and appointment of judges are made through a transparent, fair and credible process.”

In its report, ODIHR makes a number of key recommendations to the Moldovan authorities, the evaluation commission, and similar bodies that may serve to inform future external evaluation and vetting processes for judges and prosecutors in the country.

These include increasing the transparency of the selection of members of the commission and other similar bodies, enhancing public communication and access to information about important procedural decisions, and refraining from amending the applicable legislation during the process, unless this is exceptionally required to ensure fairness and credibility. ODIHR also suggests updating the legal framework to guarantee gender equality and diversity in the future among the member of the vetting bodies, establishing realistic deadlines for the process of integrity evaluations, and introducing compensation for candidates whose appeals were not examined prior to the completion of the appointment process.

In addition, ODIHR said vetting should remain an extraordinary measure to select judges and prosecutors who are best placed to make the justice system more credible and accountable towards citizens. The vetting process should be conducted only once, with strict respect for the principles of judicial independence, and in observance of the fairness and transparency of the evaluation process.

Following detailed analysis of the legislation covering the process in September last year, ODIHR monitored the pre-vetting of candidates for the body responsible for the appointment and discipline of judges in Moldova from June 2022 to August 2023 at the invitation of the Moldovan Ombudsman.

The monitoring team observed all 29 hearings of the Superior Council of Magistracy candidates, with all monitors strictly adhering to the well-established ODIHR monitoring principles of impartiality, objectivity, confidentiality and professionalism, at the same time ensuring that they in no way interfered in the process itself. ODIHR will continue monitoring the process of evaluation of integrity by the evaluation commission, and will issue a final report when the process has been completed.

Categories: Central Europe

Albania’s 2023 local elections: ODIHR election observation mission final report

OSCE - Fri, 09/29/2023 - 16:00
493717 Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz Final Report

The May 2023 local elections in Albania were generally well-administered, competitive and held with the participation of the key political forces, but the process was characterized by continued polarization between the main political parties and deep division within the opposition. Contestants could campaign freely, but cases of misuse of state resources at central and local levels, claims of pressure on public-sector workers and voters, and allegations of vote buying were of concern. While election day was generally peaceful, the process was negatively affected by numerous cases of party interference as well as technical and procedural problems, widespread group voting and problems with the secrecy of the vote.

These are some of the main conclusions from the final report on Albania’s 2023 local elections, published today by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR). The report offers 27 recommendations to bring elections in Albania closer in line with OSCE commitments and other international standards for democratic elections.

Key recommendations include:

  • Identifying and independently investigating all allegations of electoral violations, including vote-buying, pressure on voters and misuse of state resources;
  • Making genuine efforts to raise awareness about the long-standing phenomenon of vote-buying and publicly condemning such practices;
  • Enforcing effective safeguards ensuring the secrecy of the vote and preventing intimidation of voters, group and proxy voting;
  • Committing to meaningful electoral reform and addressing all ODIHR recommendations to ensure a comprehensive and consistent electoral framework;
  • Reviewing legal provisions related to the campaign, including those against misuse of state resources, to remove ambiguities and ensure a level playing field;
  • Ensuring proper implementation of the law on the right to information, decriminalizing defamation and supporting independent journalism;
  • Ensuring stability of the election administration by excluding arbitrary replacements of members of the election administration and reviewing the system of nominating members and secretaries of the lower-level commissions;
  • Avoiding or limiting the use of unattributed materials produced by parties or state authorities in news and information programmes during the election campaign.

ODIHR deployed an Election Observation Mission on 7 April 2023 to observe the local elections. All 57 participating States across the OSCE region have formally committed to following up promptly on ODIHR’s election assessments and recommendations.

Categories: Central Europe

Türkiye’s 2023 general elections: ODIHR election observation mission final report

OSCE - Fri, 09/29/2023 - 15:30
553969 Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz Final Report

Türkiye’s 2023 general elections offered voters a choice between genuine political alternatives and voter participation was high, but the incumbent president and the ruling parties enjoyed an unjustified advantage, including through biased media coverage. The continued restrictions on fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression hindered the participation of some opposition politicians and parties, civil society and independent media in the election process. Nonetheless, the campaign itself was competitive and largely free for most contestants but characterized by intense polarization, and marred by harsh rhetoric. Election day was generally well-organized and assessed positively, however, instances of deficient implementation of certain procedures were noted by the observers.

These are some of the main conclusions from the final report on the May 2023 general elections published today by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR).

Key recommendations include:

  • Conducting a constitutional reform to ensure broad guarantees for fundamental rights, freedoms, and judicial independence;
  • Revising the legislative framework to ensure a coherent and stable electoral framework, well in advance of the next elections in an inclusive and transparent consultation process;
  • Enhancing transparency and increasing public trust in election administration bodies by holding public sessions and publishing information of public interest;
  • Ensuring full voting rights for students in military schools and conscripts and persons with intellectual disabilities, and guaranteeing that restrictions on prisoners’ voting rights are proportionate to the crime committed;
  • Introducing temporary special legislative measures to promote women candidates;
  • Ensuring a campaign environment free from intimidation and effective oversight of campaign regulations;
  • Aligning campaign finance framework with international standards and introducing proportionate sanctions;
  • Aligning the media legal framework with international standards on freedom of expression;
  • Establishing effective legal redress mechanisms, including review of the election administration decisions by an independent judicial body;
  • Ensuring that any restrictions on access to online content have precise and exhaustive legal grounds and conform to international standards.

The ODIHR Election Observation Mission to the 14 May 2023 general elections commenced its work on 29 March 2023, and remained in country to observe the 28 May 2023 run-off of the presidential election. The mission concluded its work on the ground on 6 June.

All 57 participating States across the OSCE region have formally committed to following up promptly on ODIHR’s election assessments and recommendations.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE-led Mobile Training Team trains border officers in Tirana

OSCE - Fri, 09/29/2023 - 14:09
553939 Communication and Media Relations Section Alexandra Taylor

From 25 to 29 September, the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department, the Mobile Training Team and the OSCE Presence in Albania, conducted an intensive training programme in Tirana, Albania, focusing on behavioural analysis, interviewing techniques, and crisis management. It benefited twenty border and counter-terrorism officers, as well as representatives from the Security and Investigation Academy of the Albanian State Police.

Laureta Spirollari, Director of the Migration Directorate within the Border and Migration Department of the Albanian State Police, endorsed the pilot program. "This training equips us with the tools to successfully detect and identify both perpetrators and victims. I eagerly anticipate the OSCE's continued efforts to organize more of these invaluable training sessions, with the aim of reaching investigators and frontline officers alike. As always, the OSCE has proven to be an exceptional partner in ensuring that the training leaves a lasting impact on the participants, enriching their professional knowledge," she said.

Gertian Brovina, a Senior Investigator from the Counter Terrorism Department of the Albanian State Police, underscored the ever-evolving nature of terrorism. "The dynamic landscape of terrorism necessitates continuous learning, adaptation, and innovation in our counter-terrorism strategies. Therefore, we must promote close cooperation among all frontliners in the fight against terrorism, ultimately contributing to safer communities," he said.  

The participants learned how to assess travelers’ behavior at border crossings and identify suspected foreign terrorist fighters, cross-border crimes, as well as victims of such crimes. Through hands-on and scenario exercises, Albanian police officers practiced how to deploy effective interviewing techniques while upholding human rights and refraining from discriminatory profiling. They also discussed strategies to manage potential crises at borders while taking into account the unique needs of women, men, girls, and boys.

The event received funding support from the United States and Germany, which support deployment of the multi-national OSCE-led Mobile Training Team. The Mobile Training Team currently comprises sixteen border and counter-terrorism experts from OSCE participating States and Partners for Co-operation.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Presence trains Albanian State Police on latest trends in production, illicit trafficking and distribution of new synthetic drugs

OSCE - Fri, 09/29/2023 - 13:41

Fourteen members of the Albanian State Police (ASP) participated in a training programme titled “Synthetic Drugs Trafficking - A Global Growing Threat” from 27 to 29 September 2023. The training was organized by the OSCE Presence in Albania with the support of the US Justice Department International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP), US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) and Belgian Federal Judicial Police.

The training programme introduced the ASP investigators with the latest trends in production, illicit trafficking, and distribution of new synthetic drugs regionally and globally. It also provided them with the best international practices in investigating and dismantling organized crime groups involved in illicit trafficking of synthetic drugs.

The activity was part of the OSCE Presence’s projects “Supporting Albanian law enforcement to tackle serious and organized crime and improve regional co-operation” aiming to assist Albanian law enforcement agencies in developing capacities, improving professionalism, learn from best practices and supporting police development and reform.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission to Montenegro supports Protector of Human Rights and freedom Office and organization of regional conference of ombudspersons

OSCE - Fri, 09/29/2023 - 12:53
553915 Marina Živaljević

Ombudsperson offices have been playing a critical role in enforcing a better respect of human rights, international conventions and democratic values in the region, their landmark being the trust of citizens.  This was one of the conclusions of a regional conference organized on the occasion of 20 years of existence of the institution of the Montenegrin Ombudsman, with the support of the OSCE Mission.

On 28 and 29 September, representatives from 12 ombudspersons institutions and equality bodies from Belgrade, Pristina, Sarajevo, Skopje, Tirana and Zagreb exchanged their views and discussed the many common challenges that their institutions have to cope with, such as non-discrimination, countering hate speech,  free access to information, cooperation with courts, situation of migrants or minors, education of civil servants on Human Rights, preparation of public administration to crisis and the monitoring of implementation of their recommendations, among others.

The conference was opened by the President of Montenegro Jakov Milatović, through a video message, encouraging the Ombudsperson’s Office in Montenegro to continue protecting the principles of rule of law, legal certainty, legality and impartiality in the work of all state bodies.

Head of the OSCE Mission, Dominique Waag, praised the work of the Protector of Human Rights and Freedoms, in supporting a democratic system where institutions have to be transparent and accountable. “The Protector for human rights and freedoms and the OSCE Mission share similar concerns. Together with the Protector’s Office, the Mission works to counter hate speech in the media. We encourage pluralistic debate and increased media attention to promote tolerance of ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural diversity. We encourage each of you to pay special attention to women who speak out in public, as politicians, civil society activists or journalists who face a continual barrage of hate speech,” said Ambassador Waag recalling some of the OSCE principles and commitments, such as the promotion tolerance towards people of other convictions and beliefs, and the prevention of aggressive nationalism, racism, chauvinism and xenophobia.

She added that gender-based violence and how it is dealt with by the courts is a shared concern. “Further, we expect the presumption of innocence to be fully respected not only by the media. The Mission shares the observations of the Ombudsman, based on complaints received, about the excessive delays of trials, and pays attention among others to the observations made concerning the security sector and police,” said Ambassador Waag.

The Protector Siniša Bjeković pointed out a very demanding period for the work of independent institutions, stating the importance of providing appropriate material, financial, spatial, personnel and normative capacities. “Without continuous tolerant dialogue, without understanding between people, every idea, no matter how good it is, carries the risk of being compromised, especially in situations when the echo of the irrational, such as hatred, silences the voices of reason, such as those who call on respect for human rights and freedoms and the innate dignity of people,” said Protector Bjeković.

In front of 100 participants, opening remarks were also delivered by the UN Resident Coordinator to Montenegro Peter Lundberg, the Head of the EU Delegation in Montenegro, Oana Cristina Popa, and the Head of the Council of Europe Programme Office in Podgorica, Lejla Dervišagić. The UN human rights advisor and representatives from Ministry of Justice, Constitutional Court and Faculty of law participated as moderators to the various panels of the conference.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE provides training on information analysis and information technology

OSCE - Fri, 09/29/2023 - 11:56
Munira Shoinbekova, OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe

From 18 to 29 September, the OSCE Programme Office in Dushanbe (the Office) conducted a two-week-long training on information analysis and the use of IT technologies in border security. Twenty officers of the analytical units of Tajik Border Troops took part in the training, which was held at the “Poytakht” training centre in Rudaki district.   

The objective of the training was to improve the information system and analytical support for the activities of command and control units of the Border Troops. International and local experts delivered training on the principles and methods of information analysis in border security.    

Information analysis and information technology are important contributors to an effective border protection system. The training is part of the Office’s multi-year efforts to support Tajikistan’s border security response capabilities. 

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE helps to strengthen the ability of Ukraine’s Free Legal Aid system to provide assistance to survivors of gender-based violence in times of war

OSCE - Fri, 09/29/2023 - 11:20
553894 Andrii Dziubenko Donors to the OSCE Support Programme for Ukraine

Ensuring gender-sensitive education of staff working in Ukraine’s system of free legal aid will enhance quality of assistance provided to survivors of gender-based violence, including related to the ongoing war. These are some of the recommendations, elaborated with the assistance of the OSCE Support Programme for Ukraine (SPU), based on the assessment of documents, policies and practices used by members of the Free Legal Aid system.

Better access of to legal services for those who suffered from gender-based violence is key, as many cases go unreported, with no justice served and perpetrators avoiding due punishment. The survivors tend to avoid reporting what happened to them due to various reasons - shame, fear, and not knowing where they can turn for help and how they can protect their rights. In times of war, the problem is especially acute, as was identified by the OSCE-led Survey on Safety and Well-Being of Women, a multi-country research conducted in 2019. Also, a recent ODIHR research gathered evidence of torture and sexual violence in the course of ongoing war against Ukraine.      

Survivors of sexual violence and other forms of gender-based violence are entitled to a number of legal services, including representation of interests in courts, other state bodies, local self-government bodies, and in relations with other persons. The Free Legal Aid system of Ukraine (FLA) ensures the provision of the mentioned services and helps to draft claims and other documents in criminal proceedings initiated due to the commission of such criminal offenses. The FLA system is a network of 107 centres providing legal assistance with funding from public and private sources.

To help the system improve its response to gender-based violence, the SPU conducted a gender analysis of the policies and procedures to assess their compliance with the principles of gender equality and gender mainstreaming; the analysis of the following resources was performed: policies, programmes, communication materials, acts, documentation, etc. In addition, data on training on gender issues for FLA staff was gathered.

The study, while recognizing overall compliance of the system with gender mainstreaming requirements, proposed special recommendations that will help the FLA system to improve its activities in this sphere. Specific recommendations, in addition to more training efforts for staff and employees, include providing the clients a possibility to select the gender of a representative they wish to interact with, as well as the need to change the terminology in documents and procedures, including replacement of the word “victim” with the term ”survivor” to avoid victimization of those who suffered from gender-based violence.

The SPU also plans to deliver training for the management of the FLA system on issues of gender analysis and gender-based violence in November this year.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE delivers webinar on online payment fraud for police cadets in Uzbekistan

OSCE - Thu, 09/28/2023 - 17:40
553885 Communication and Media Relations Section Alexandra Taylor

On 28 September, the OSCE Secretariat’s Transnational Threats Department and the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan organized a webinar on online payment fraud for the Academy of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan in Tashkent.

During the webinar, the OSCE briefed around 80 cadets and lecturers from the Academy about the types of online payment fraud and methods used by criminals, as well as recent global and national trends in this area. Experts also discussed challenges in investigating and prosecuting online payment fraud and international co-operation between law enforcement agencies and the private sector.

“Digital technologies have transformed many traditional forms of crime by significantly increasing the number of potential victims and finding new methods of committing offences. Online payment fraud, as one of the most common and widespread forms of cyber-enabled crime, is a prime example of this worrying trend,” said Sergei Sizov, Acting OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Uzbekistan.

Speakers included experts from the INTERPOL Financial Crime and Anti-Corruption Centre, Cybercrime Centre at the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Uzbekistan, and Mastercard.

It was the second such webinar in 2023 and marks a continuation of the 2022 series on raising awareness about trends in contemporary policing. The first webinar took place in June and focused on threats posed by malware. Two more webinars are planned for later this year, focusing on the Dark Web criminal landscape and crypto-currency related crimes.

The webinars complement the national and regional training activities conducted by the OSCE in Uzbekistan as part of the extra-budgetary project “Capacity building on combating cybercrime in Central Asia”.

Categories: Central Europe


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