PPJ- 12 December 2017
In a joint statement on human rights and fundamental freedoms made at the 24th OSCE Ministerial Council held in Vienna on 7-8 December 2017, the 44 participating states expressed “deep regret” about the continuing deterioration in some participating States in the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
“The participating States were unable to reach consensus on draft decisions addressing these challenges,” the statement said.
The statement reiterated that “the fight against terrorism and violent extremism must go hand in hand with the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
“The space for civil society is rapidly shrinking…”
“In certain parts of the OSCE region, the space for civil society is rapidly shrinking, both online and offline, and attacks on human rights defenders continue to increase. There are attempts to silence civil society, human rights defenders and free and pluralistic media through restrictive legislation, intimidations, or even violent acts and murder for which those responsible go unpunished. Women and girls continue to face discrimination and violence, and LGBTI persons experience hate crimes and violent ill-treatment.” said the statement.
“The attempts to silence civil society are counter-productive”
The statement underlined that “these policies and practices not only violate or abuse human rights and fundamental freedoms, they are also often counter-productive, as they increase mutual suspicion in society, undermine trust in the rule of law and marginalize vulnerable communities.”
“There must never be a time when we fail to protest injustice”
“We speak out when human rights and fundamental freedoms are violated or abused. Whether it is human rights defenders facing reprisals for their actions, or persons being harassed, bullied or attacked
because of who they are, whom they love or what they believe or say. We will challenge harmful stereotypes, combat myths with facts, and speak out against discrimination on all grounds. We recall our commitments and hold ourselves and each other to account. There may be times where we cannot prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” the statement said.
Free and pluralistic media uncover abuses of power
“When people can freely exercise their human rights, fundamental freedoms and civil society thrives, and minorities are not marginalized, societies are more resilient and peaceful. When women and girls can pursue unlimited opportunities, a country realizes its full potential. When free and pluralistic media can inform the public, abuses of power, corruption and disinformation are uncovered.” the statement underscored.