Unnecessary and disproportionate restrictions on the right of association for police and military personnel should be lifted, said participants at the OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting in Warsaw on 25 September 2012.
During a side event organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and the European Organisation of Military Associations (EUROMIL), speakers representing non-governmental organizations and international organizations said that some OSCE participating States continue to place undue restrictions on freedom of association for police and military personnel.
“The security sector and its personnel are part of the fabric of any democratic and pluralistic society,” said Oyvind Hoyen, ODIHR Human Rights Officer. “They deserve to enjoy the same basic human rights as the members of community whose rights and security they uphold and protect.”
In some OSCE participating States, military associations are banned altogether, while in others police and military associations require permission from state authorities to operate or are barred from engaging in labour-union activities.
“Members of the armed forces should have the right to form and join independent organizations representing their interests, and have the right to organize and to bargain collectively,” said Caroline Henrion, EUROMIL Project Officer. “This right does not undermine military authority, jeopardize efficiency or disrupt the chain of command.”
Jane Townsley, the President of the International Association of Women Police who took part in the meeting, highlighted the importance of female staff associations in addressing the specific needs of women personnel in traditionally male-dominated environments.