Helsinki Federation Releases Report on Human Rights Organizations in The Russian Federation, Belarus, and Uzbekistan
Wednesday, April 5, 2006 4:30 PM

From March 30-31 of this year, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) presented its report The Assault on Human Rights Defenders in the Russian Federation, Belarus and Uzbekistan to the “OSCE Conference on Human Rights Defenders and National Human Rights Institutions” in Vienna. This report expresses concern over the recent increase in persecution of NGO’s and human rights organizations in the Russian Federation, Belarus and Uzbekistan. Dismayed by the minimal efforts of governments and international organizations in preventing this escalation in violence, the report warns against the rapid erosion of protection for human rights, democracy and freedom in other parts of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

The report notes that in recent years, the Russian Federation has exerted increasing control and pressure on human rights groups. Arbitrary laws make it difficult for human rights organizations to register. Following the passage of a bill in January 2006 aimed at restricting human rights activities, both the Moscow Helsinki Group and the Russian Human Rights Research Centre, along with ten other human rights organizations, were charged with espionage by Russian authorities. Human rights groups have experienced threats, arrests, searches, abductions and even killings, especially in the Northern Caucus.

Labeling Belarus as the “the worst country in Europe in terms of their respect for the rule of law, democracy and human rights,” the report notes that many human rights activities are prohibited by Belarusian law. NGO’s are targeted for harassment or criminal proceedings for engaging in human rights activities that are protected under international human rights law. Prior to March 2006, the Belarusian Helsinki Committee (BHC) maintains it was unjustly charged with tax evasion. As the single legally registered independent human rights organization remaining in Belarus, the BHC is threatened with dissolution and its leaders face criminal charges.

Following the Tashkent bombings in 1999 and the Andijan massacre in May 2005, the Uzbek government has increased “anti-terrorism measures” in order to silence and shut down NGO’s and humanitarian workers who provide information about human rights violations in Uzbekistan. Outspoken human rights workers are routinely placed in psychiatric institutions and treated with psychoactive drugs, a “treatment” dating back to the Stalinist era. Women human rights activists and their families in particular are subjected to psychiatric confinement, beatings and politically motivated trials.

The full report can be viewed on the IHF website:  

Compiled from: “The Assault on Human Rights Defenders in the Russian Federation, Belarus and Uzbekistan,” International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, 30 March 2006.