Posts Tagged ‘Avis Bohlen’

September 2012

US at OSCE statement by Ambassador Avis Bohlen


As prepared for delivery by Ambassador Avis Bohlen
OSCE Human Dimension Implementation Meeting
Warsaw, September 26, 2012

While I hesitate to rank the session topics in any order of importance, it’s hard to overstate how critical the rule of law is to ensuring the effective implementation of other OSCE commitments and to providing redress when necessary. Indeed, how we speak about and understand the state of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the world can never be far removed from the concept and — we hope — the reality of an independent and fair judiciary interpreting and enforcing the laws of a genuinely representative legislature. Sadly, such democratic essentials are still lacking in too many of the participating States, and frequently the courts become tools of government persecution. To be sure, there have been improvements over the past year in some OSCE states, and while we also understand that no state’s judicial system is perfect, in too many cases the chasm between the commitments on paper and the reality on the ground is troubling.

Moderator, in Russia, the posthumous prosecution of Sergei Magnitsky is one of the most visible examples of what former President Dmitry Medvedev decried as “legal nihilism.” We are also concerned by the problematic trials and disproportionate sentences against the female punk group Pussy Riot and the jailing of Taisiya Osipova on questionable drug charges, as well as the legal harassment visited on many of those who have sought to express publicly their disapproval of the government, including Garry Kasparov, Alexey Navalny, and Boris Nemtsov. We reiterate our concerns regarding the second trial, verdict, and sentence of former Yukos executives Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev, as well as that of Alexey Kurtsyn.

In Kazakhstan, we are concerned about the fairness of the justice system, where arrests appear to have targeted opposition activists. For example, in the case against Vladimir Kozlov, the prosecution has relied on professed “expert witnesses” who attacked Mr. Kozlov’s character, but failed to produce concrete evidentiary links between Mr. Kozlov’s support for striking oil workers and the violence that occurred in Zhanaozen last December. In the aftermath of violence in Zhanaozen, trials have has been further marred by credible allegations of torture in detention and forced confessions resulting from beatings by prison officials and threats to defendants’ families. These allegations are consistent with and reports of widespread police abuse during the crackdown following the December 16 events.

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