The British Helsinki Human Rights Group monitors human rights and democracy in the 57 OSCE member states from the United States to Central Asia.
* Monitoring the conduct of elections in OSCE member states.
* Examining issues relating to press freedom and freedom of speech
* Reporting on conditions in prisons and psychiatric institutions

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The post-Kosovo European Refugee Crisis: the final part
HITS: 1945 | 17-01-2003, 03:35 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Albania, Global Events, War and peace

The sight of hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing their homeland was the defining spectacle of the Kosovo crisis. However, like previous post-Cold War crises such as the Kurdish exodus in 1991 following the end of the Gulf War, Allied victory has not resolved the problem of displacement, just altered the parameters. The return of so many refugees to Kosovo has not stemmed the flow of would-be migrants, some from Kosovo others claiming to be from the province. They have joined the existing tide from other places.

Despite the existence of dictatorships and persecuting regimes, few of the arrivals in southern Italy, let alone those who make their way through safe countries like France to Britain, have serious claims for asylum. Only the Roma refugees from Kosovo formed a clearly persecuted group in the observers’ opinion. In practice it is those with the money to pay people-smugglers and with the daring to take the risks involved primarily young men who make up the bulk of asylum-seekers.

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Roma refugees from Kosovo
HITS: 2188 | 17-01-2003, 02:00 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Albania, World health, War and peace

Bari: centro a prima acollienzo Bari Palese

One group of asylum-seekers in the reception centers visited by the BHHRG in southern Italy seemed to take the issue of refugee status very seriously and all had stories of persecution: the Roma or gypsies from Kosovo. Unlike other asylum-seekers who tend to enter Italy from Albania, in August hundreds of Roma refugees fled Kosovo through Montenegrin ports to Bari. The largest group arrived on 19th August. Roma refugees from Kosovo in southern Serbia had told representatives of the BHHRG in July that they wanted to go to Italy.

By 1st September, the influx stalled perhaps the drowning of up to 100 gypsies during the crossing from Montenegro in small fishing boats had acted as a disincentive to leave, for the moment at least. The cost to each person for the journey - 1000 to 2500 marks - amust also deter such large families.

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Refugees 1999: The port of Calais in France
HITS: 2076 | 27-12-2001, 00:07 | Comments: (0) | Categories: France , Politics, War and peace

France has a variety of problems associated with migration and asylum-seekers from North Africa, but the port of Calais just 22 miles across the English Channel from Dover provides the jumping-off point for people who wish to cross into Britain. Other Channel ports, including those in Belgium and Holland, attract some would-be asylum-seekers anxious to enter Britain but Calais is the most important point of embarkation by far. The means employed usually involve stowing away in the back of one of the many trucks that pass daily into the English port. Despite the fact that truckers face a fine in England if it can be proved they knowingly transported illegal immigrants, many say that their human cargo climbs into the back of the vehicles without their knowledge. Some have alleged that immigrants have threatened them with knives in order to gain passage, but it cannot be ruled out that others knowingly collude in the trade for the substantial financial rewards it offers _ up to several thousand dollars per person carried. On the day BHHRG visited Dover 140 people had been found hidden in the back of a truck.
Many also enter Britain on the Eurostar train service from France. Once in France an immigrant can buy a ticket in Paris for the last station before the Tunnel and a second for the cross-Channel section of the route and get on the train with only perfunctory checks on documents to contend with since on showing only the first ticket the impression is given that he intends only to travel to Calais.

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Bosnia Herzegovina 2001: The International Community and the Bosnian Croats
HITS: 10892 | 24-05-2001, 21:37 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Bosnia Hercegovina , Global Events, War and peace

Mostar in Bosnia Herzegovina to investigate the stand-off between the international community and the Bosnian Croats. This report reveals the ongoing problems with the implementation of the Dayton Peace Agreement five years on.
Bosnia Herzegovina 2001: the international community versus the Bosnian Croats
On 6th April 2001 a well-planned international operation which included SFOR troops and masked security operatives closed down 6 branches of the Hercegovacka bank in Bosnia Herzegovina (BiH). The incident was just the latest in a series of assaults by the High Representative, Wolfgang Petritsch and his office (OHR) on the Croat community in Bosnia and on the leading Croat political party, the HDZ. The British Helsinki Human Rights Group’s representatives visited Mostar, the capital of the Herzegovina region of Bosnia, soon after the bank raid. They talked to leading local politicians, journalists, administrators and the deputy high representative, Colin Munro. They also visited the pilgrimage town of Medjugorje whose local branch of the Hercegovacka bank had been raided on 6th April.

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