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Elections in 2015
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Central Asia plays important role as a bridge between Asia and Europe, says OSCE Chairperson-in-Office in regional visit

BERN, 22 November 2014 - Central Asia plays an important role as a bridge between Asia and Europe, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said as he concluded a four-day visit to the Central Asian republics of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, from 19 to 22 November 2014.

Burkhalter discussed the work and activities of the OSCE presences and their importance in contributing to the security of the OSCE region. He also discussed the Ukraine crisis, how it affects the region, and the importance of de-escalation of violence, safety and security for all. The Ukraine crisis had shown the usefulness of the OSCE as a platform for dialogue and as an operational responder, Burkhalter said. He added that it was essential to continue and even intensify OSCE efforts to assist Ukraine in stabilizing the situation, particularly through the valuable work of the Trilateral Contact Group and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission. Burkhalter called upon all sides in the Ukraine crisis to refrain from violence and any acts which could provoke unpredictable chain reactions beyond control.

Burkhalter, who made use of his visit in the region to meet with representatives of civil society, also discussed co-operation between the authorities and the OSCE on a number of common issues such as border management, good governance, sustainable energy, trafficking and freedom of media. In Kyrgyzstan, he welcomed the decision of the President to continue the Community Security Initiative until the end of 2015.

Foreign terrorist fighters and terrorism were also an important topic of the discussions in the region. “Combating terrorism and the phenomenon of young people travelling abroad to join terrorist organizations will be discussed at the OSCE Ministerial Council, taking place in Basel from 4 to 5 December 2014. International cooperation against terrorism has become ever more important, and the OSCE can provide real added valued in this regard,” Burkhalter said.

Commitments of the politico-military, economic and environmental and human dimensions were in focus throughout the visit. “There is such potential in the region. There is also a strong case for making more use of the OSCE to strengthen co-operative security in the economic and environmental field. We are open to engage, work on prevention and offer expertise,” said Burkhalter.

22 November 2014
BERN, 22 November 2014 - Central Asia plays an important role as a bridge between Asia and Europe, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said as he concluded a four-day visit to the Central Asian republics of Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, from 19 to 22 November 2014...
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Latest from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine based on information received as of 18:00 (Kyiv time), 20 November 2014

This report is for media and the general public.

The SMM continued to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum and the activities of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC).

At 17:50 hrs a bomb explosion occurred in Kharkiv’s Trinklera Street in the vicinity of Gorky Park. The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) informed the SMM immediately after the explosion and representatives of the SBU went to the site along with other law enforcement units. The explosion occurred at an electric substation transformer located in Trinklera Street near the military hospital. There were no casualties. The SMM visited the site later and observed glass blown out across the street from the back of the hospital where the transformer is located. An investigation was launched by the police.

The SMM monitored a meeting in Luhansk with the participation of the Ukrainian head of the JCCC,  the chief of staff of the Russian Representation in south-east Ukraine and members of the  “Lugansk People’s Republic”.  They had an inconclusive discussion on what exactly constituted a ceasefire violation and the possible postponement of the third phase (disengagement) of the Generals’ agreement of 13 November. (See SMM Daily Report of 14 November.)

In Starobilsk (96 km north of Luhansk) Ukrainian and Russian JCCC members said that they had not implemented any activity recently due to a lack of mandate, of transport and an Internet connection.

The SMM monitored JCCC activity in the headquarters in Debaltseve (55 km north-east of Donetsk) and Starobilsk (85 km north-west of Luhansk). In Debaltseve, at 10:45 hrs, the SMM heard numerous incoming artillery rounds originating from the north-east. Ukrainian and Russian officers agreed that these were fired from Yenakiyeve (40 km north-east of Donetsk). At 11:00 hrs the SMM heard outgoing rounds emanating from the western outskirts of Debaltseve. At 12:00 hrs shelling resumed and continued for 20 minutes. Ukrainian and Russian members of the JCCC said that the area of Fashchivka (15 km south-east of Debaltseve) was being shelled but they did not know from where.

In government-controlled Novohrodivka (40 km north-west of Donetsk), the SMM met the secretary of the city council and the chief of staff who both expressed concerns over the city’s deficit. The SMM also met the editor-in-chief of the local newspaper, “Regionalnye Vesti” who voiced concerns regarding Cabinet Resolution No. 595 of 7 November 2014, which restricts pension payments to individuals with a permanent residence in government-held areas. She stressed that the related administrative procedure is in the Ukrainian language which represents an obstacle to the elderly population of the region.

In Donetsk city the overall situation was tense with sporadic shelling in the northern outskirts during the day and late afternoon.

The SMM monitored the ongoing process for the removal of aircraft wreckage from the MH17 crash site in Grabovo (58 km east of Donetsk) and Razsipnoye (80 km east of Donetsk).

The SMM patrolled five Ukrainian-controlled checkpoints (checkpoints 10, 12, 13, 14 and 15) to the east and north-east of Mariupol where the situation was calm. While at checkpoint 12 in Hnutove (85 km south of Donetsk), at 10:20hrs, the SMM heard two explosions to the east in the direction of Kominternove but could not determine their origin.

The situation in Dnipropetrovsk, Kherson and Odesa was calm.

The SMM met the head of the Chernivtsi district police, who stated that a public safety council had been created to improve police services. The council is composed of businesses, local government, community leaders, pensioners and former public safety officials. The interlocutor said that the number of violent crimes registered this year had decreased in comparison to the year before.

The SMM met the Deputy Consul General of Hungary in Uzhhorod (257 km south-west of Ivano-Frankivsk). He stated that the 20 per cent turnout by ethnic Hungarian voters at the recent parliamentary elections was well below the overall turnout of 50 per cent for Transcarpathia.

In Kyiv the SMM monitored a picket in front of the Embassy of the Russian Federation, organized by journalist Irma Krat, Automaidan and the “Right Sector”. Some 20 picketers, mainly women representing relatives of people missing or deceased in the east, protested for the release of hostages, the withdrawal of the Russian Federation from the occupied areas of Ukraine and the return of Crimea. The picket was monitored by the police and ended peacefully.

The SMM attended a press conference by three senior members of the “Donbas” volunteer battalion who announced the establishment of a countrywide non-governmental organization, the Military and Patriotic Association of Participants of the Anti-Terrorism Operation – “Spravedlivist (Justice)”. It consists of military personnel, voluntary battalion members, activists, representatives of the public and entrepreneurs and aims at fighting corruption of public officials at all levels of the administration. 

21 November 2014
The SMM continued to monitor the implementation of the provisions of the Minsk Protocol and Memorandum and the activities of the Joint Centre for Control and Co-ordination (JCCC)...
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OSCE helps Ukrainian law enforcement educational institutions to improve teaching of cybercrime investigation

Twenty teachers from educational institutions of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies enhanced their knowledge and skills in the area of investigating ICT-related crimes, during a five-day intensive train-the-trainer course that ends on 21 November 2014, in Kyiv.

The training course was organizedby the OSCE Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine on request of the Interior Ministry of Ukraine.

Led by international experts, the course introduced representatives of the National Academy of Interior from Kyiv, Kharkiv, Odesa and Lviv Universities of Interior, Academy of Prosecutors and Academy of State Security Service of Ukraine to a standardized curriculum on countering cybercrime.

The participants discussed the need for specializedtraining courses for various law enforcement practitioners, including first responders, specialized operational staff and investigators, forensic experts and management.

The topics also included the ICT user identification techniques, how to establish the suspect’s location, gathering digital evidence, details and specifics while handling cases related to IT-facilitated human trafficking, including the storage and distribution of child abuse materials.

The goal of the training is to ensure sustainability, particularly by encouraging educators to incorporate the developed training material into the curriculum of police training institutions. This is done to ensure that the knowledge is transferred further to thepersonnel educated and retrained on regular basis in the law enforcement system.

The train-the-trainer course is part of a project by the Project Co-ordinator in Ukraine on “Enhancing the Prosecution of IT-facilitated Human Trafficking Crimes in Ukraine”. The project is implemented with the financial support from the Government of Canada and will be followed up by the development of a specialized training course on combating IT-facilitated human trafficking crimes.

21 November 2014
Twenty teachers from educational institutions of Ukrainian law enforcement agencies enhanced their knowledge and skills in the area of investigating ICT-related crimes,during a five-day intensive train-the-trainer course that ends on 21 November 2014, in Kyiv...
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Media briefing by OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine on Saturday in Severodonetsk

KYIV, 21 November 2014 - The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine will hold a media briefing in Severodonetsk tomorrow, Saturday, 22 November 2014, at 12:30 Kiev time, at the Hotel Mir (fourth floor), Lisichanskaya St., 1.

Ambassador Ertugrul Apakan, Chief Monitor of the SMM, and Michael Bociurkiw, Mission Spokesperson, will discuss the Mission’s latest activities, expansion and the security situation.

Contacts:

Michael Bociurkiw, Spokesperson, Mobile: +38 067 4083107, michael.bocirukiw@osce.org
Iryna Gudyma, Senior Press Assistant, Mobile: +38 067 4021716, iryna.gudyma@osce.org
Laurence Couture Gagnon, Media Focal Point, +38 0673714798, laurence.couturegagnon@osce.org

21 November 2014
KYIV, 21 November 2014 - The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission (SMM) to Ukraine will hold a media briefing in Severodonetsk tomorrow, Saturday, 22 November 2014, at 12:30 Kiev time, at the Hotel Mir (fourth floor), Lisichanskaya St., 1...
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OSCE supports workshop for long-term election observers in Kazakhstan

ASTANA, 21 November 2014 – A workshop for long-term election observers, co-organized by the OSCE Centre in Astana and the Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan and with the support of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), took place in Astana today.

The event brought together some 50 government officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations who have served or may serve as election observers in Kazakhstan and abroad. The workshop aimed to enhance participants’ knowledge of the rights and obligations of long-term election observers by drawing on key OSCE/ODIHR tools related to election observation, as well as on national legislation. Participants also had the opportunity to share their experience of election observation missions with an international expert.

During the event, the Centre presented to the participants a Kazakh-language version of the ODIHR Election Observation Handbook that was translated and published with the Centre’s support.

“The goal of the seminars that we have been conducting annually since 2006 is to train local and international observers, exchange experience and information as well as discuss various challenges during the election monitoring process. This year’s topic focusing on long-term observation aims to enhance the level of public trust in the election process and its results,” said Vladimir Foos, Deputy Chair of the Central Election Commission of the Republic of Kazakhstan. “What distinguishes long-term observation is that it covers not just the voting procedure on election day but the entire process of preparing and conducting an election”, he added.

Radivoje Grujic, OSCE/ODIHR Election Adviser, said: “The presence of both international and citizen observers can enhance the transparency and accountability of the election process and build public trust in it. The OSCE/ODIHR is ready to assist Kazakhstan’s authorities in their efforts to further improve electoral processes in line with their OSCE commitments.”

The event is part of the OSCE’s efforts to contribute to national training for international election observers. Similar workshops have been organized every year for observers in Kazakhstan since 2006.

21 November 2014
ASTANA, 21 November 2014 – A workshop for long-term election observers, co-organized by the OSCE Centre in Astana and the Central Election Commission of Kazakhstan and with the support of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), took place in Astana today...
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Accountability and transparency of public institutions in focus of OSCE-led seminar in Montenegro

The OSCE Mission to Montenegro, in co-operation with the Judicial Training Centre and the U.S. Embassy in Podgorica organized a four-day seminar from 17-20 November 2014 in Budva on the importance of public information and outreach in the Judicial, Prosecutorial, and Police institutions.

Effective, systematic, and open communication by Judicial, Prosecutorial and Police institutions are critical to any democratic society. Public trust is of great importance to any country, and the only way to achieve that is to improve the accountability and transparency of the public institutions.

The goal of the workshop is, apart from improvement of communication strategy and vision, building technical public communication skills and outreach by the judiciary and police, in order to increase accountability, transparency and openness of the institutions, therefore to assist in building up of a public trust in the institutions. 

The seminar is the first activity within the long-term project by the Mission on communications and outreach, which will continue into next year. The Mission will also engage in activities with the Montenegrin public service broadcaster RTCG, highlighting its importance as an independent and reliable platform for public discussion on issues such as Rule of Law and Law Enforcement.

Experts from the United States, the region and Montenegro engaged the participants in a variety of capacity-building exercises. The participants had an opportunity to exchange opinions and best practices in the area of communication strategy and public information skills.

 ”All the institutions have an obligation to fulfill the basic human rights of every single citizen – the right to be informed in a correct and straightforward manner and to ensure full freedom of expression”, said OSCE Mission to Montenegro Head, Ambassador Janina Hrebickova.

Deputy Prime Minister Dusko Markovic acknowledged the importance of the event and said that the successful communication with the public authorities and institutions of the judiciary and law enforcement was inseparable from the overall aspirations towards full democratization of Montenegrin society.

U.S. Ambassador in Montenegro Sue K. Brown, President of the Supreme Court of Montenegro Vesna Medenica, Supreme State Prosecutor Ivica Stankovic, and Interior Minister Rasko Konjevic also addressed the participants. 

21 November 2014
The OSCE Mission to Montenegro, in co-operation with the Judicial Training Centre and the U.S. Embassy in Podgorica organized a four-day seminar from 17-20 November 2014 in Budva on the importance of public information and outreach in the Judicial, Prosecutorial, and Police institutions...
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Actions must be taken to ensure journalists’ safety and end impunity, OSCE Representative says at European Federation of Journalists Annual Meeting in Moscow

MOSCOW, 21 November 2014 – Ensuring journalists’ safety and breaking the cycle of impunity remain the biggest challenges to overcome for free media, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said today in a keynote speech at the European Federation of Journalists’ Annual Meeting “Journalism in Times of Conflict: Impunity, Safety & Ethics”, at Moscow’s Central House of Journalists.

“Incidentally, it was here in Moscow in 1991 where OSCE participating States agreed to adopt all feasible measures to protect journalists in dangerous missions, particularly in cases of armed conflicts,” Mijatović said.

Mijatović noted that more than 20 years on from the Moscow Meeting of the Conference on the Human Dimension of the CSCE (the forerunner to the OSCE), journalists in the OSCE region are more unsafe than ever before and more effective steps must be taken to stop the deterioration of journalists’ safety.

“We all know that current efforts to provide safety and security for members of the media are insufficient,” Mijatović said. “We can continue having meetings and agreeing on important resolutions but the grim reality is that attacks are growing exponentially and impunity is prevailing.”

In her speech, Mijatović said 56 journalists have been murdered in Russia since 1992 and in most cases there have been no arrests.

“It is the obligation of all states to prove the political will to protect journalists and I call on the authorities in Russia to show proof of their wish to stop impunity,” Mijatović said.

Mijatović also addressed the growing phenomenon of propaganda, which poses a threat to journalism as a profession, not least with the rising influence of state-run media outlets

“The phenomenon of today’s propaganda jumps to our world straight from the worst times of the Cold War 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall,” Mijatović said. “We are seeing history repeating itself almost as a farce, with Russian television packed with misinformation backed up by fake testimonials and videos on YouTube.”

Mijatović said that national professional media organizations and self-regulatory bodies should evaluate the state of journalism in Russia.

During her visit, Mijatović met with representatives of civil society and journalists from independent Russian media outlets, including Mikhail Zygar, editor-in-chief of the television channel Dozhd, Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief of Novaya Gazeta newspaper, and Aleksey Venediktov, editor-in-chief of the radio station Echo Moscow.

During the meeting with Venediktov the Representative agreed to provide assistance in drafting guidelines for Echo Moscow’s journalists on using social media platforms. Mijatović also gave a keynote speech at a roundtable seminar entitled “New Internet-related legislation in Russia as it relates to bloggers and online media”.

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.  

21 November 2014
MOSCOW, 21 November 2014 – Ensuring journalists’ safety and breaking the cycle of impunity remain the biggest challenges to overcome for free media, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović said today in a keynote speech at the European Federation of Journalists’ Annual Meeting “Journalism in Times of Conflict: Impunity, Safety & Ethics”, at Moscow’s Central House of Journalists...
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OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatović at the conference on shaping policies to advance media freedom on the Internet, Vienna, 14 February 2013.
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OSCE course promotes international standards on prisoners’ rights in Turkmenistan

ASHGABAT, 21 November 2014 – Internationally recognized human rights standards and best practices regarding the treatment of inmates in prisons were discussed at an OSCE-organized training course that concluded in Ashgabat today.

Twenty-five law-enforcement officials, including penitentiary staff from across the country, officials from the Interior Ministry and the General Prosecutor’s Office as well as instructors of the Interior Ministry’s Institute participated in the training course.

The five-day training course provided an overview of major international documents addressing the prisoners’ rights and focused on fundamental human rights of inmates, including the right to healthcare and adequate life conditions, the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and the right to humane treatment.

“This training course is a follow-up to the joint activities implemented by the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat and the Government of Turkmenistan in the area of promoting international standards in the penitentiary system”, said Ambassador Ivo Petrov, Head of the OSCE Centre in Ashgabat. “The course offered participants an opportunity to share their practical experiences of working with inmates and explore ways of further improving their work, and we expect the participants to further disseminate the newly acquired skills and knowledge among their colleagues in penitentiary institutions”.

Two international experts presented methods of work with special groups of inmates, such as minors, females and prisoners’ serving long-term sentences, as well as measures of ensuring the inmates’ safety, discipline and punishment procedures and inadmissibility of torture and cruel treatment in prisons. Discussions also addressed violation of inmates’ rights and procedures of filing complaints, investigation and monitoring.

21 November 2014
ASHGABAT, 21 November 2014 – Internationally recognized human rights standards and best practices regarding the treatment of inmates in prisons were discussed at an OSCE-organized training course that concluded in Ashgabat today...
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OSCE Centre supports discussion on new criminal justice model in Kazakhstan

An OSCE-supported roundtable discussion on the implementation of the action plan for the transition to a new model of the criminal and administrative justice took place on 21 November 2014 in Almaty.

The event was co-organized by the OSCE Centre in Astana and the Prosecutor General’s Office with support from the local think-tank Legal Policy Research Centre and the British Embassy in Astana. It brought together some 70 high-level officials of the Interior Ministry and Prosecutor General’s Office, parliamentarians, defence lawyers, legal scholars as well as representatives of non-governmental and international organizations.

The discussion focused on the most important legal developments related to the implementation of the newly-adopted Criminal, Criminal Procedure and Criminal-Executive Codes as well as the Code of Administrative Offences. The participants also discussed the ways to fill in the gaps in criminal procedure legislation regarding the introduction of plea bargaining, the institute of the investigating judge and release on bail. They examined the recommendations on developing by-laws and regulations as well as commentaries on the criminal and administrative justice codes. Particular attention was paid to the provisions of the new Criminal Code on the fundamental freedoms and human rights, most notably on freedoms of association, expression and opinion, and their compliance with international human rights commitments.

The event is part of the Centre’s long-standing efforts to promote criminal justice system reform in Kazakhstan.

21 November 2014
An OSCE-supported roundtable discussion on the implementation of the action plan for the transition to a new model of the criminal and administrative justice took place on 21 November 2014 in Almaty...
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