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OSCE Media Freedom Representative deplores detention of journalists in Belarus

OSCE - Mon, 05/17/2021 - 18:24

VIENNA, 17 May 2021 – The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, deplores the latest imprisonment of several journalists in Belarus.

Today, according to reports Lyubov Kasperovich, a journalist with Tut.by news portal, was placed for 15 days of administrative arrest for “participation in an unauthorized event”. She was detained on 14 May while covering a trial against a group of people.

On 15 May, journalists Alexander Burakov, a freelance reporter for German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, and Vladimir Laptsevich, a journalist with local online news portal Mogilev Region (6tv.by), according to reports were placed for 20 days of administrative arrest for “repeated participation in an unauthorized event”. Both journalists were detained on 12 May outside a courthouse in the eastern city of Mogilev while reporting on the trial of opposition activists.

On 14 May, freelance photojournalist Tatyana Kapitonova was placed for ten days of administrative arrest for “participation in an unauthorized event.” She was apprehended the day before, in Minsk, allegedly for reporting on a flower-laying event.

The Representative reiterated her call to the authorities to reverse the negative trend and bring their policies and practices in compliance with their OSCE commitments.

“The way the authorities in Belarus treat media workers remains deeply disturbing and, along with other worrying developments regarding media freedom in the country in recent months, it seriously jeopardizes the fundamental human right to freedom of expression,” Ribeiro said. “I call on the authorities to stop harassing journalists and release all those imprisoned.”

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 www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 112/2021 issued on 17 May 2021

OSCE - Mon, 05/17/2021 - 18:10
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, between the evenings of 14 and 16 May, the SMM recorded 1,173 ceasefire violations, including 53 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 197 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, between the evenings of 14 and 16 May, the Mission recorded 192 ceasefire violations, including 67 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 74 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • A man was injured due to undetermined explosive objects in Dovhe and a girl was injured due to gunfire in Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk), Luhansk region.
  • The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske. It recorded ceasefire violations inside the disengagement area near Petrivske and SMM unmanned-aerial vehicles spotted people inside the disengagement areas near Zolote and Petrivske.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable the operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The SMM continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at three entry-exit checkpoints and the corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Luhansk region.
  • The Mission’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted.*
Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission to Montenegro supports 12 local public broadcasters to strengthen their mobile journalism capacities

OSCE - Mon, 05/17/2021 - 16:41
486724 Marina Živaljević

As part of its technical support to the media, the OSCE Mission to Montenegro provided 28 mobile journalism sets to the Union of Local Public Broadcasters (ULES) for 12 local media houses on 17 May 2021.

The donated equipment encompassed smartphones with stands, mobile interview kits with microphones, tripod kits and complementary technical add-ons for the efficient use of the equipment. With the mobile equipment, journalists will be able to perform interviews, produce videos and edit material on the same device, producing news reports rapidly and easily while preserving production quality. The donation also included jackets and vests with a “PRESS” insignia, to ensure better identification and visibility of media professionals while reporting at live events and public gatherings.

Siv-Katrine Leirtroe, Deputy Head of the OSCE Mission to Montenegro, said that rapid evolution of technology has created a high demand for more flexible, faster and on-the-spot news reporting. “Strong technical capacities of media houses are a prerequisite for keeping up with emerging new media, where mobile journalism plays an important role as one of the most significant innovations in news production,” said Leirtroe.

Dragan Popadić, president of the ULES, expressing gratitude to the Mission, said that this donation represents the continuation of the excellent co-operation between the ULES and the OSCE Mission. “The Mission has provided support to the ULES by organizing training and education courses for journalists and upgrading the ULES’ joint portal – www.cglocalinfo.me. Now we receive a donation of this valuable and, above all, useful equipment for our journalistic and technical teams,” said Popadić.

The Mission will continue to support local media outlets in strengthening their technical capacities, visibility and safety of journalists.

Categories: Central Europe

International strategies and best practices for community policing explored at OSCE workshop series in Armenia

OSCE - Mon, 05/17/2021 - 12:23
486640 Communication and Media Relations Section Alexandra Taylor

Sharing international strategies and best practices from across the OSCE region is the aim of an OSCE workshop series for Armenia’s Ministry of Justice and police launched on 17 May 2021. The online workshops are designed to support Armenia’s implementation of police reforms by strengthening community policing strategies.

The workshop series is organized by the Strategic Police Matters Unit of the OSCE’s Transnational Threats Department and comprises three sessions to be held over the month of May.

The topics covered by the workshops will include community policing as institutional solutions; legislation; community policing functions; target groups, such as young people and people with mental illness; as well as crime prevention and cooperation with the private and public sector.

The sessions will feature presentations by representatives of five OSCE participating States — Canada, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Norway and Sweden. They will share their national community policing strategies and models as well as best practices to further support Armenia in development of its own national strategies.

Categories: Central Europe

CoE Office in Sarajevo, EU in BiH, OSCE Mission to BiH, UN in BiH on International Day of Living Together in Peace – More can be done to strengthen trust

OSCE - Sun, 05/16/2021 - 22:27
Željka Šulc

SARAJEVO, 17 May 2021 – On 16 May the world celebrates the International Day of Living Together in Peace. More than 25 years has passed since the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina ended and much has been achieved. However, more can be done to strengthen trust, enable constructive dialogue, and enhance mutual understanding and respect in order to ensure a durable peace and sustainable development for all the people in BiH. 

On this important day, the Council of Europe Office in Sarajevo, the European Union in BiH, the OSCE Mission to BiH and the United Nations in BiH call attention to the numerous provocative memorials, murals, symbols, plaques, monuments, street names, and commemorations that glorify convicted war criminals, divisive historical figures or controversial events at the expense of the dignity of victims, survivors and those whose lives were lost.

These actions, in tandem with a widespread divisive rhetoric represent a clear regression from efforts to rebuild good neighborly relations, trust and constructive engagement between communities in Bosnia and Herzegovina. They undermine many post war achievements by inflaming tensions and perpetuating fears and divisions. In this regard, we recall that six months ago this week the members of the Presidency of BiH released a joint statement on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the Dayton Peace Agreement, in which all three members highlighted:

“the duty of all levels of government in Bosnia and Herzegovina to step up efforts to ensure that peoples and citizens can live with dignity, with mutual respect and understanding,” and

“the obligation to sympathise with the pain and suffering of members of all peoples and citizens, and the obligation to show respect to all innocent war victims.”

In the joint statement, the Presidency members confirmed their “commitment to create a society tailored to all its peoples and citizens, especially young people whom we want to enable to stay and build [a] future in their homeland.”

In line with the BiH Presidency’s call, we urge all relevant stakeholders to make positive moves and amendments in a timely manner with actions that reflect compassion and empathy toward the pain and suffering of others as well as for their own communities. Now is the time for BiH’s leaders and communities to create an environment in which future generations can begin leading more secure, peaceful and hopeful lives. 

The need to “promote an environment conducive to reconciliation” is one of the 14 key priorities for EU integration.  It is a central component of the EU concept for which there is no more important beneficiary than the people of BiH themselves.

The BiH Presidency’s own words sum up exactly what is envisaged through the International Day of Living Together in Peace.  It is time to turn constructive statements and promises into action. It is time to build upon, and support, the work of those already taking such steps. The people of BiH deserve no less.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 111/2021 issued on 15 May 2021

OSCE - Sat, 05/15/2021 - 21:37
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 197 ceasefire violations, including 92 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 208 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded 74 ceasefire violations, including 49 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 332 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The SMM saw fresh damage to and near four houses (of which three inhabited) near Marinka, Donetsk region.
  • Small-arms fire was assessed as directed at an SMM mid-range unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) near Chermalyk.
  • The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske. Its UAVs spotted people inside the disengagement area near Petrivske.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable the operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The SMM continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at four entry-exit checkpoints and the corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The Mission’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including at a checkpoint of the armed formations near Horlivka, Donetsk region and at a border crossing point near non-government-controlled Voznesenivka (formerly Chervonopartyzansk), Luhansk region. Its UAVs again experienced multiple instances of GPS signal interference.*
Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 110/2021 issued on 14 May 2021

OSCE - Fri, 05/14/2021 - 16:44
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 208 ceasefire violations, including 99 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 54 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded 332 ceasefire violations, including 39 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 70 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The SMM followed up on reports of injuries to a man due to the explosion of an undetermined object in Novoselivka Druha, Donetsk region.
  • Small-arms fire was assessed as directed at an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle close to the disengagement area near Petrivske.
  • The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske. It heard ceasefire violations inside the area near Petrivske.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable the operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The SMM continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at four entry-exit checkpoints and two corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Donetsk and Luhansk region.
  • The Mission’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including at school in non-government-controlled Zolote-5/Mykhailivka. Its unmanned aerial vehicles again experienced multiple instances of GPS signal interference.
Categories: Central Europe

OSCE presents National Risk Assessment Report on anti-money laundering, combating financing of terrorism and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in Turkmenistan

OSCE - Fri, 05/14/2021 - 14:06
486511 OSCE Centre in Ashgabat

The Second National Risk Assessment (NRA-2) Report on Anti-Money Laundering, Combating Financing of Terrorism and the financing of Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (AML/CFT/PWMD) in Turkmenistan and its Risk Management Action Plan (RMAP) were presented at a virtual meeting on 14 and 15 May 2021.

The OSCE Centre in Ashgabat, in close co-operation with the Ministry of Finance and Economy of Turkmenistan and its Financial Monitoring Service (FMS), organized the event that brought together representatives of financial and non-financial institutions, law enforcement agencies, supervisory bodies, and other relevant governmental and non-governmental agencies.

International experts Igoris Krzeckovskis and Oxana Gisca assisted in drafting the NRA - 2 and its RMAP, shared their recommendations, and discussed further steps necessary for implementation of the Action Plan.

“It is an honor for us to note that the report, like the previous report for 2017–2018, was prepared in a close and productive co-operation with the Ministry of Finance and Economy and its FMS and other government agencies, including the Ministry of Internal Affairs, Central Bank, NGOs and private sector”, said Ivana Markovic Boskovic, Economic and Environmental Officer at the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat.

“The Government of Turkmenistan also adopted thelaw on AML/CFT/PWMD in a new edition in March of this year, which was prepared with the support of the Centre,” said Markovic Boskovic. “The Centre intends to continue its long-term support to the Government of Turkmenistan, following its economic and environmental mandate, to improve further the national AML/CFT/PWMD framework, including the implementation of the RMAP.”

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE supports seminar on suspicious transactions reporting in Nur-Sultan

OSCE - Fri, 05/14/2021 - 12:15
486487

An OSCE-supported two-day training seminar on suspicious transactions reporting (STR) concluded on 14 May 2021 in Nur-Sultan.

Some 180 representatives from the Financial Market Regulation and Development Agency, the Financial Monitoring Agency, the National Bank and second-tier banks attended the event, which was conducted in a blended format.

International experts from Slovenia and Croatia shared their expertise on best practices in the OSCE region related to STR. They elaborated on indicators for classifying an activity as an unusual and suspicious transaction. They also covered topics such as assessing money laundering and terrorist financing risks, risk management system tools, and aspects related to ensuring the quality of STRs submitted to authorized agencies.

Situation analysis in Kazakhstan concluded each day of the training seminar. The experts, based on a previously implemented national anti-money laundering legislation desk review, identified legal gaps and proposed country-tailored recommendations to address the shortcomings.

The OSCE Programme Office in Nur-Sultan organized the event in co-operation with the Financial Monitoring Agency as part of the Office’s multi-year efforts to promote good governance and advance the host country’s Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism system in compliance with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) standards.

Categories: Central Europe

Strong and independent national human rights institutions vital for democracy, OSCE human rights office and international partners say

OSCE - Fri, 05/14/2021 - 08:22
486406 Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights Katya Andrusz Joint statement in support of the Office of the Polish Commissioner for Human Rights

Strong and independent National Human Rights Institutions are key to underpinning democracy and the rule of law and ensuring respect for human rights, said the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) together with five other human rights organizations in a joint statement today.

As the search to find a new Human Rights Commissioner in Poland continues, the organizations urge the national authorities to ensure a smooth transition and to take every care that the institution can continue to work effectively and independently throughout the selection and appointment process.

Today’s statement was signed by ODIHR together with the European Network of National Human Rights Institutions, the European Network of Equality Bodies, the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, the International Ombudsman Institute, and the European Office of the UN Human Rights Commissioner.

ODIHR and its partners added that they remain ready to support, assist and advise the Polish authorities involved in the selection and appointment process to ensure it is fully in line with international standards and that the new Human Rights Commissioner is able to continue the institution’s important work.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 109/2021 issued on 13 May 2021

OSCE - Thu, 05/13/2021 - 18:59
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 54 ceasefire violations, including 15 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 112 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded 70 ceasefire violations, including three explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded no ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske.
  • The SMM observed anti-tank mines, some for the first time, near Luhanske and Lozove, and in Donetsk city, Donetsk region.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable the operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The SMM continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at three entry-exit checkpoints and three corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Luhansk region.
  • The SMM visited two border crossing points outside government control and monitored areas close to the border with the Russian Federation in Donetsk region.
  • The Mission’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted. Its unmanned aerial vehicles again experienced multiple instances of GPS signal interference.
Categories: Central Europe

A bleak picture when looking at media freedom in region, said OSCE Media Freedom Representative Ribeiro at Permanent Council meeting in Vienna

OSCE - Thu, 05/13/2021 - 14:13

VIENNA, 13 May 2021 – When looking at media freedom in the OSCE region, I see a bleak picture, said OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro. She presented her first biannual report to the OSCE Permanent Council in Vienna today.

Ribeiro expressed her worries about the gross violations of free speech and journalists’ rights for the past period and commemorated the two recently killed journalists in the OSCE region. “These murders are a terrible blow to all media, to society, and all of us, as they show that we still live in a region where journalists literally risk their lives when doing their work,” said Ribeiro. “But mostly, these attacks are a terrible blow to the family, relatives and friends of these journalists, who now have to live on without their beloved ones. My deepest sympathies go out to them.”

Ribeiro referred to the blatant infringements on media freedom in a number of countries, most notably in Belarus, where a large number of journalists were detained and physically attacked and where new regulations were introduced that violate freedom of expression. She also mentioned the many less visible issues that negatively affect media freedom and journalists’ rights. “These violations creep in slowly, and taken together form a new systemic approach that silences critical voices and dismantles media pluralism.”

The report mentions some of the developments that Ribeiro witnessed, including the growing distrust towards journalists and anti-media sentiment, increasing abuse of journalists offline and online (especially women media workers), the use of legal means and arbitrary detention to hinder and harass journalists and a gradual restricting of the free flow of information. Ribeiro also mentioned the challenges that the growing importance of the online sphere poses, including disinformation and the increasing use of artificial intelligence. “When seen in their overall context, such developments can and will lead to a gradual, but certain decay of a freedom we all hold, and should hold, dear.”

Ribeiro used the opportunity to acknowledge the work of her predecessors and particularly paid tribute to Freimut Duve, who served as the first OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media from 1998 to 2003 and who sadly passed away last year. Ribeiro said: “Today more than ever, we should remember his words: ‘There is no freedom without media freedom!’”

The Representative’s full report is available here: https://www.osce.org/files/f/documents/b/9/486283.pdf

Media are invited to contact the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media for questions and interview requests.

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 www.osce.org/fom, Twitter: @OSCE_RFoM and on www.facebook.com/osce.rfom.

Categories: Central Europe

Challenges of new generation warfare discussed at OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation

OSCE - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 19:29

VIENNA, 12 May 2021 — How technological advances contribute to a new generation of warfare and the challenges this presents was discussed at an OSCE Forum for Security Co-operation (FSC) meeting held online today under the Armenian FSC Chairmanship.

The meeting was the third Security Dialogue organized by the Armenian FSC Chairmanship and focused on new generation warfare, which is characterized as a non-nuclear, contactless warfare with the use of high-precision weapons. The three invited speakers examined advances in weapons and technologies and their effect on the strategic and tactical dimensions of warfare. They also looked at the challenges these advances pose and how participating States and the OSCE can address them.

“Technology has always driven conventional weapons and their evolution,” said Sarah Marie Grand Clement, Researcher in the Security, Technology and Conventional Arms Programmes at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research. “However, what is new is the pace and scale of technological development which has increased and led to a step-change in conventional weapons.”  

She explained how globalization and the addition of new actors working through the private sector are pushing innovation and rapidly expanding the reach of a range of new technologies that can be applied to conventional weapons. These include artificial intelligence (AI) and autonomous systems, information and communication technologies, as well as technologies related to space, electromagnetism, materials, and advanced missiles.

Colonel Zhirayr Amirkhanyan from Armenia’s Ministry of Defense, explored the role advanced technologies have played in new generation warfare, amplifying threats and creating new ones. Describing these technologies as “disruptive”, Amirkhanyan said: “The challenges of the new generation warfare can be properly assessed only via discussing the disruptive technology against the backdrop of the prevailing international setting, as well as its repercussions on technological, operational, societal realms, as well as technology management and arms control issues.” The existing and future arms control mechanisms should be aimed at managing the disruptive impact of those weapons on international security, he added.

Some of the challenges are threat perceptions and ensuring internationally controlled management of new weapons and technologies, said Tobias Vestner, Head of the Security and Law Programme at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. Using AI as an example, he highlighted legal, political, and ethical concerns this and other technologies raise and how the OSCE can support participating States in addressing those.

“Compared to other international and regional organizations, the OSCE has the best tools to alleviate problems of uncertainty for its participating states,” Vestner said. He underlined how the Organization provides a forum for exchanging information and building trust that can help to enhance co-operation for regulating new technologies in the field of conventional weapons.

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 108/2021 issued on 12 May 2021

OSCE - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 17:56
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 112 ceasefire violations, including 66 explosions. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 200 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded no ceasefire violations. In the previous reporting period, it recorded 17 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • The SMM followed up on reports of injuries to a man due to the detonation of an explosive device in Orikhove-Donetske, Luhansk region.
  • The Mission saw fresh damage assessed as caused by shelling to residential houses in the Trudivski area of Donetsk city’s Petrovskyi District.
  • Small-arms fire was assessed as directed at an SMM mini-unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) near government-controlled Bohdanivka, Donetsk region.
  • The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The SMM continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at three entry-exit checkpoints and two corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The Mission’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including at a checkpoint of the armed formations near Staromykhailivka, Donetsk region. Its UAVs again experienced multiple instances of GPS signal interference.*
Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Media Freedom Representative meets with Belarusian Union of Journalists

OSCE - Wed, 05/12/2021 - 09:36
Ton van den Brandt

The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Teresa Ribeiro, met with representatives of the Belarusian Union of Journalists (BUJ) online yesterday, 11 May 2021, to discuss the current state of freedom of expression and media freedom in Belarus.

In particular, Ribeiro met with BUJ members Andrey Krivosheev (Chairperson), Vadim Gigin, Lyudmila Gladkaya, Grigory Azaryonok and Veronica Bouta.

Ribeiro expressed her serious concerns about the negative implications of the ongoing political developments in the country on the work of media outlets and about the continued harassment and persecution of media workers and professionals. She noted extremely worrisome legal developments, with a large potential to negatively affect the freedom of expression and free flow of information, both offline and online, in the country. She also shared the alarming conclusions of the legal review her Office had commissioned of the Belarusian Resolution that governs accreditation rules and procedures for foreign journalists.

Ribeiro thanked the participants for presenting their overview of the media freedom situation and for their testimonies. She underlined that all media workers should be able to freely report, collect and disseminate information and that it is important to always refrain from promoting unduly restrictive regulations and stigmatizing practices.

Ribeiro previously expressed her concern at the deterioration of media freedom in Belarus, see https://www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/478885 and https://www.osce.org/representative-on-freedom-of-media/478693.  

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) Daily Report 107/2021 issued on 11 May 2021

OSCE - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 20:09
SDGs SDGs:  16 - Peace, justice and strong institutions

Summary

  • In Donetsk region, the SMM recorded 200 ceasefire violations, including 128 explosions. In the previous 24 hours, it recorded 108 ceasefire violations in the region.
  • In Luhansk region, the Mission recorded 17 ceasefire violations, including four explosions. In the previous 24 hours, it recorded one ceasefire violation in the region.
  • The SMM continued monitoring the disengagement areas near Stanytsia Luhanska, Zolote and Petrivske. It recorded ceasefire violations inside the disengagement area near Petrivske and spotted people inside the disengagement areas near Zolote and Petrivske.
  • The Mission facilitated and monitored adherence to localized ceasefires to enable operation of critical civilian infrastructure.
  • The SMM continued following up on the situation of civilians, including at four entry-exit checkpoints and the corresponding checkpoints of the armed formations in Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
  • The Mission monitored events commemorating Victory Day in Kyiv.
  • The Mission’s freedom of movement continued to be restricted, including at a checkpoint of the armed formations near the Petrovskyi district of Donetsk city. Its unmanned aerial vehicles again experienced multiple instances of GPS signal interference.*
Categories: Central Europe

On the 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention, OSCE leaders stress its importance for progressing towards gender equality

OSCE - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 16:53

STOCKHOLM/VIENNA/WARSAW, 11 May 2020 - Marking the 10th anniversary of the Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, OSCE leaders today underlined the importance of this landmark treaty that provides legal standards so that women and girls can live their lives free from violence and abuse.

Also known as the Istanbul Convention, named after the city in which it opened for signature on 11 May 2011, the treaty is the most comprehensive international legal instrument setting out binding obligations to States to prevent and combat violence against women and girls.

The OSCE leaders call upon participating States that have not yet done so to give consideration to signing and ratifying the Istanbul Convention. The Covid-19 pandemic has brought in its wake a shadow pandemic of deteriorating gender inequality and domestic and other gender-based violence. The time for action is now, to take concrete steps to implement the Istanbul Convention and the commitments on gender equality by the OSCE participating States. Ultimately, this will save the lives of women and girls, the leaders stressed.

The Istanbul Convention, which is open to ratification by countries both inside and outside the Council of Europe region, has been ratified by 33 OSCE participating States and signed by 11. The European Union has also signed the Convention.

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs Ann Linde, said that the Istanbul Convention provides a gold standard for combating violence against women and girls. “The 10th anniversary of the Istanbul Convention gives us a valuable opportunity to highlight the importance of the convention. We have seen that men’s violence against women and girls has increased during the pandemic, making the Istanbul Convention more relevant than ever. Gender equality is a main priority for the Swedish Chairpersonship and the participating States have committed to preventing and combating violence against women, as rooted in several OSCE commitments".

OSCE Secretary General Helga Maria Schmid said: “The OSCE participating States have committed to preventing and combating all forms of violence against women and girls. The Istanbul Convention provides powerful standards and tools to improve legal frameworks and policies.”

"The adoption of the Istanbul Convention marked an important step in building a society free from violence against women and domestic violence", said ODIHR Director Matteo Mecacci. “Research shows that during the Covid-19 pandemic, violence against women has spiked in many OSCE countries. Let’s mark this 10th anniversary by redoubling our efforts for women and girls to live their lives to the full, free of violence.”

OSCE participating States have committed to preventing and combating all forms of violence against women and girls. Three Ministerial Council (MC) Decisions have been adopted on this topic, in 2005, 2014 and 2018. The 2014 Ministerial Council Decision on Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women calls on participating States to give consideration to the signature and ratification of the Istanbul Convention.

Categories: Central Europe

Weekly Update from the OSCE Observer Mission at Russian Checkpoints Gukovo and Donetsk based on information as of 11 May 2021

OSCE - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 13:41

SUMMARY

Kamensk-Shakhtinskiy, Russian Federation. The Observer Mission (OM) continues to operate 24/7 at both Border Crossing Points (BCPs). The overall number of border crossings by persons decreased at both BCPs compared to the previous week. 

OPERATIONAL REMARKS

The OM is currently operating with 22 permanent international Mission members, including the Chief Observer (CO) and a First Responder.[1] The Mission is supported administratively by a staff member and the Chief of Fund Administration based in Vienna.

Update on COVID-19 measures

Activities have been impacted by COVID-19 and measures undertaken by the OM to ensure the safety and duty of care of its Mission members and compliance with measures set by the host country authorities. The Mission is continuing to keep the situation under review, in close contact with the OSCE Secretariat and the Chairpersonship. Following the host country’s recommendations, the observers are adhering to distancing. Due to the preventive measures taken by the central and regional authorities, the OM is faced with certain difficulties, but is still able to continue to fulfil its mandate without any limitations in its observation and reporting activities. During this reporting period, the vaccination process provided by the host country medical system continues on a voluntary basis. By now, 73 per cent of OM staff have received both jabs of the vaccine.

OBSERVATIONS AT THE BORDER CROSSING POINTS

Persons crossing the border

The profile of persons crossing the border can be categorized as follows:

  1. Adults travelling on foot or by car with little or no luggage.
  2. Persons in military-style outfits.
  3. Families (often including elderly persons and/or children) travelling on foot or by car with a significant amount of luggage.

The average number of entries/exits decreased from 8,551 to 8,034 per day at both BCPs compared to last week. During the reporting period, the majority of border crossings were to the Russian Federation, with an average net flow of 407 per day for both BCPs. The Donetsk BCP continued to experience much more traffic than the Gukovo BCP.

Responding to the COVID-19 situation, the host country closed its borders for the majority of foreigners starting from 18 March 2020. Among the exceptions of persons allowed to cross the border (which entered into force on 19 March) are Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons holding passports or identification documents proving permanent residence in certain areas of Luhansk and Donetsk regions of Ukraine. In addition, reportedly, due to the threat of the spread of COVID-19, starting from 10 April 2020, the organized passenger transport commuting between the non-government-controlled areas of Luhansk region of Ukraine and the Russian Federation was temporarily suspended and restored from 25 June.

Persons in military-style outfits

During the reporting period, the number of persons in military-style outfits crossing the border was nine, compared to seven last week; three persons crossed into the Russian Federation while six persons crossed into Ukraine. These individuals crossed the border on foot.

Families with a significant amount of luggage

The OTs continued to report on families, sometimes with elderly persons and/or children, crossing the border at both BCPs with a significant amount of luggage, or travelling in heavily loaded cars. During this reporting week, four families were observed crossing into the Russian Federation while one family was observed crossing into Ukraine, compared to the previous reporting period when 12 families were observed crossing into the Russian Federation and 14 families were observed crossing into Ukraine.

Bus connections                                         

Regular local and long-distance bus connections continued to operate between Ukraine (mostly from/to the Luhansk region) and the Russian Federation. During the reporting period, the OTs observed just a slight decrease in the overall number of buses crossing the border at both BCPs (349 compared to 350 observed during the previous week). There were 175 buses bound for the Russian Federation and 174 bound for Ukraine.

On some occasions, the OTs noticed the bus drivers removing the itinerary signs from the windshields of their buses, while some buses did not display their route at all. The majority of long-distance buses commuting between the Luhansk region and cities in the Russian Federation had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region.

Trucks

During the reporting period, the OTs observed a decrease in the overall number of trucks crossing the border at both BCPs (527 compared to 707 during the previous reporting week); 310 at the Gukovo BCP and 217 at the Donetsk BCP, 290 of these trucks crossed into the Russian Federation, and 237 crossed into Ukraine. Most of the trucks observed by the OTs had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region; however, on a daily basis, the OTs also noted trucks registered in Belarus, Lithuania, the Russian Federation, and trucks with “LPR” plates.

The OTs also continued to observe tanker trucks crossing the border in both directions. During the reporting period, the OTs observed a slight decrease in the overall number of tanker trucks crossing the border at both BCPs (45 compared to 49 during the previous reporting week). These trucks were observed crossing the border at both BCPs. The trucks had the words “Propane” and “Flammable” written across the tanks in either Russian or Ukrainian. The majority of tanker trucks had hazard signs, indicating that they were transporting propane or a mix of propane and butane. All trucks underwent systematic inspection by Russian Federation officials, which could include an X-ray check. Due to the unfavorable observation position at the Gukovo BCP, the OTs continued to be unable to observe any X-ray checks.

Compared to the previous week, the total number of X-ray checks at the Donetsk BCP decreased from 123 to 94. Of the total number of trucks scanned, all 94 trucks (100 per cent) were bound for Ukraine.

Minivans

The OM continued to observe passenger and cargo minivans[2] crossing the border in both directions at both BCPs. The OTs observed minivans predominantly with Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region; however, the OTs also saw minivans registered in the Russian Federation. During the reporting period, the overall number of minivans crossing the border at both BCPs remained the same, 133 compared to the same number observed during the previous week; 71 crossed into the Russian Federation and another 62 into Ukraine.

Trains

The OTs continued to pick up the sound of trains on the railway tracks located approximately 150m south-west of the Gukovo BCP. During the reporting week, the OTs heard trains on 32 occasions; the OTs assessed that 17 trains were travelling to the Russian Federation and the remaining 15 trains were travelling to Ukraine (more details are provided in the sections “trends and figures at a glance” below).

Visual observation was not possible because of the line of trees located between the train tracks and the BCP.

Other observations

The majority of vehicles crossing the border had Ukrainian licence plates issued in the Luhansk region or Russian Federation licence plates. A significant number of vehicles with “LPR” plates were also observed crossing the border in both directions on a daily basis. The OTs also observed vehicles with Georgian, Lithuanian and transit German licence plates.

On 5 May at 15:18, the OT at the Donetsk BCP observed an ambulance with “LPR” plates and an inscription “Urgent Medical Help” (in Russian) on the side, crossing the border from Ukraine into the Russian Federation. The same day at 19:04, the ambulance returned from the Russian Federation. The OT could observe the driver and one medical personnel on board. After undergoing border and customs control procedures, the ambulance left for Ukraine at 19:20.

On 6 May at 08:07, the OT at the Donetsk BCP observed an ambulance with “LPR” plates and an inscription “Sanitary” (in Russian) on the side. The ambulance arrived from Ukraine and left for the Russian Federation. The OT was unable to notice any other details from its position.

On 6 May at 15:55, the OT at the Donetsk BCP observed two ambulances with “LPR” plates, entering the BCP from the Russian Federation and queuing at the customs control area. The first vehicle had an inscription “Urgent Medical Help” and the second one “Sanitary” (in Russian). Both vehicles underwent border and customs control procedures and left for Ukraine at 16:15.

On 7 May at 00:55, the OT at the Donetsk BCP observed a group of three minivans arriving at the BCP from Ukraine. All vehicles bore an inscription “LPR Post” (in Russian). After undergoing border and customs control procedures, the minivans left the BCP towards the Russian Federation.

On 7 May at 05:15, the OT at the Donetsk BCP observed an individual in civilian clothes, carrying a big green backpack and entering the BCP’s hangar building, located at the customs control area, accompanied by a customs officer. At 05:30, both left the hangar, heading into the BCP’s main building. The OT noticed that the customs officer was carrying a bulletproof vest and two bulletproof plates. The OT was unable to notice any other details from its position.

On 7 May at 21:42, the OT at the Donetsk observed a white truck and two white minivans with “LPR” plates entering the BCP from the Russian Federation and parking at the customs control area. All the vehicles had the sign “LPR Post” displayed on the sides (in Russian). After undergoing border and customs control procedures, the vehicles left for Ukraine at 23:00.

The truck with “LPR” plates carrying four jet engines (the main part of the engine, similar to the Klimov VK-1 and the Rolls-Royce Nene jet engines), observed by the OT at the Gukovo BCP on 25 April and reported in the last Weekly Update is still parked at the BCP’s customs control area facing in the direction of the Russian Federation.

For trends and figures at a glance covering the period from 6 April 2021 to 11 May 2021, please see the attachment here.

[1] First responders are OSCE staff or Mission members deployed for a short period of time.

[2] Cargo minivans: light commercial vehicles with a maximum authorized mass of more than 3.5 t and not more than 7.5 t; with or without a trailer with a maximum mass of less than 750 kg (small cargo vehicles that correspond to driving licence C1).

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE conference works to foster regional co-operation in countering terrorist financing and transnational organized crime

OSCE - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 13:38
OSCE Regional Conference on Countering Terrorist Financing and Transnational Organized Crime

Fostering regional co-operation in addressing terrorist financing and organized crime was the focus of the OSCE Regional Conference on Countering Terrorist Financing and Transnational Organized Crime held online on 11 May 2021.

“The work of the OSCE is rooted in a strong mandate to address transnational threats, in particular preventing and combatting terrorism, by promoting a multi-dimensional and multi-stakeholder approach in the implementation of the international legal framework against terrorism,” said Alena Kupchyna, OSCE Co-ordinator of Activities to address Transnational Threats. “This conference is timely as it took stock of efforts undertaken at the regional level and lessons learned since 2019 to address the challenges posed by terrorist financing and transnational organized crime.”

The conference was organized by the OSCE Transnational Threats Department, in co-operation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Financial Monitoring Department of the Ministry of Finance and Economics of Turkmenistan. Over 200 senior experts, government officials and representatives of regional and international organizations, including the United Nations and the OSCE, took part in the conference.

Participants exchanged good practices, lessons learned, and recommendations for policy options for developing effective ways of detecting and suppressing terrorist financing channels and combating organized crime. They also explored how to strengthen human rights-compliant approaches, co-operation and information sharing in countering terrorist financing.

“Upon the initiative of Turkmenistan, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Resolution A/RES/73/338, declaring 2021 as the International Year of Peace and Trust, to promote peace and trust among nations through political dialogue, mutual understanding and co-operation. I believe that synergy and information sharing among OSCE participating States in countering terrorist financing and organized crime can facilitate confidence-building measures and, in turn, cultivate peace and trust,” said Silapberdi Nurberdiev, Ambassador of Turkmenistan to the OSCE.

The Conference discussions also built on the recommendations made during the OSCE High-Level Regional Conference on Countering Terrorist Financing and Addressing Potential Links with Organized Crime, organized in Ashgabat on 17 to 18 April 2019.

“It is imperative to tackle the root causes of violent extremism and radicalization that lead to terrorism. Tools used in radicalization and financing of terrorism need to be addressed as well as ensuring prosecution, reintegration and rehabilitation of those affiliated with terrorism and transnational organized crime. In this regard, I commend the participating States of the region of Central Asia for maintaining close co-operation and addressing these matters jointly,” said Tobias Lorentzson, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Permanent Delegation of Sweden to the OSCE.

Emphasis was also placed on the role of the OSCE, as the largest regional arrangement operating under Chapter VIII of the United Nations Charter, and its comprehensive approach to security.

Turning to the OSCE’s co-operation in the region, John MacGregor, Head of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat, said: “Over the last several years, the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat has had a constructive and fruitful co-operation and partnership with the Ministry of Finance and Economy of Turkmenistan in support of legislative reforms to align the country’s anti-money laundering and countering of financing of terrorism legal framework with relevant recommendations by the Financial Action Task Force. It is my firm belief that today’s event has encouraged an inclusive dialogue on a cross-dimensional discussion, in line with the OSCE comprehensive concept of security, and the exchange of good practices in addressing current challenges posed by terrorist financing and transnational organized crime.”

Categories: Central Europe

OSCE Mission to Montenegro works with NGOs to improve accessibility on polling day

OSCE - Tue, 05/11/2021 - 11:53
486071 Marina Živaljević

Representative from the OSCE Mission to Montenegro, the Association of Youth with Disabilities and the Union of the Blind of Montenegro worked together to produce guidelines for municipal electoral commissions on improving accessibility of polling stations.

In advance of the 9 May  elections in Herceg Novi, the representatives met with the municipal electoral commission, presented the guidelines and discussed ways to improve accessibility.

“Over 90 per cent of polling stations are accessible for people with disabilities, they have a tactile voting device that attaches to a ballot that enables visually impaired voters to vote in secret,” said Mirjana Ivanović, Chair of the Herceg Novi municipal electoral commission.

“Accessibility is more than getting in and out of the polling station. We hope that this guidance will help municipal electoral commissions to ensure that polling stations are accessible to everyone,’’ said Marina Vujačić, executive director of Association of Youth with Disabilities.

“'Ensuring independent voting and secrecy of the ballot for voters with disabilities makes for their full and effective participation in public life on an equal basis,'' said Katarina Bigović, independent advisor in the Union of the Blind.

The Mission also donated personal protective equipment for the polling station staff.

The Mission will continue to work alongside election management bodies and NGOs to ensure that polling stations are accessible and election management bodies are aware of options available to people with disabilities on how to cast their vote independently and in secret.

Categories: Central Europe

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