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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East is East, and West is East
HITS: 1942 | 27-12-2003, 01:02 | Comments: (0) | Categories: EU , Political science, Global Events
If ex-Communists and their kids are the avant-garde of the New World Order in the east, what about Western Europe? Although Tony Blair was never a member of the British Communist Party (CPGB) or any of its Trotskyite rivals, it is striking how all of his most belligerent ministers were one-time Party-members (and that lack of enthusiasm for war is expressed - if only by silence - by non-ex-Communists). Blair’s appointee as chairman of the Labour Party, Dr. John Reid was a Communist and is now the public face of New Labour’s New European-style aggressiveness. (In the early 1990s, Dr. Reid was one of the most vocal advocates of the Bosnian Serb cause and a drinking partner of the indicted war criminal, Dr. Radovan Karadzic, before a volte-face - typical of his career - when he became one of the most vocal New Labour advocates of bombing Yugoslavia in 1999.)
The ground having been laid, the way was open for a campaign to take place in which the Yes campaign had massive predominance over the No. Literally the whole of establishment Ireland weighed in to support the Yes campaign against the No. The No camp, by contrast, was run essentially by citizens’ groups. The imbalance was clearest in the funding given to each side. The Yes probably spent 20 times more than the No: its total expenditure was reportedly at least €1.68 million. Against this, the No campaign spent approximately €170,500. The Yes figure included the following expenditure: Fianna Fáil, the governing party, spent €500,000; IBEC, the Irish Business and Employers Confederation, €500,000; Fine Gael, the opposition party, spent €150,000, also for a Yes; the Progressive Democrats, a governing party, spent €125,000; The Irish Alliance for Europe, €100,000; the Irish Farmers’ Association, €150,000; the International Financial Services Centre, €25,000; the Labour Party €25,000; the Dublin Chamber of Commerce, €100,000. On top of this, the Government of Ireland spent €750,000 and Irish Euro MP, Pat Cox, president of the European Parliament, spent c. €80,000 on a Yes campaign bus. By contrast, the “No to Nice” campaign spent no more than € 120,000.
HITS: 1992 | 1-05-2003, 16:42 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Estonia , PR and human rights, Analyzing
Estonia’s entry into NATO and the EU should have been significant issues, but BHHRG’s impression was that NATO entry was not at the forefront of average voters’ minds – perhaps people fail to appreciate the costs of NATO entry which demands that 2% of a country’s GDP be spent annually on defence. All six parties that were predicted to make it into parliament favoured membership in both organizations, although, official opinion polls showed popular support for EU below that for NATO. In fact, Estonia has gained something of a reputation among Eurosceptics as the least enthusiastic of the candidate members. A group of British Eurosceptics recently set up a fund to help the Estonian ‘No’ campaign with its public relations, needless to say, all state funding, as well as assistance from Brussels goes to those in favour of accession to the union. Estonia’s referendum is planned for September, months after most of the other 10 countries have voted a sign, perhaps, that any lingering doubts will be put to rest when it is seen that everyone else has voted ‘Yes’.
Prostitution, Child Abuse and Trafficking in Estonia
HITS: 1900 | 3-04-2003, 16:23 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Estonia , World health
In April 2003 a 56-year-old Swedish woman went on trial for procuring and trafficking more than two dozen Estonian women as part of a prostitution ring operating from Stockholm. The proximity of the Scandinavian countries has exacerbated the sex trade in all the Baltic States – the short ferry journey from Finland is the means whereby much of the business is conducted. There are also growing numbers of young men from Western Europe going to cities like Tallinn for stag parties which amounts to a weekend of cheap booze and commercial sex. There are also fears that the procurement of children for sex is widespread in the Baltics. In many poverty-stricken post-Communist countries (Ukraine is another example), people of working age have gone abroad to seek jobs, leaving their children behind to roam the streets. The same problem seems to have arisen in the Baltics. There are numerous ‘modeling agencies’ in the Baltic States with connections in Scandinavia.
HITS: 30302 | 18-02-2003, 23:27 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Russia , PR and human rights, World health
The Baltic port city of Kaliningrad is the former capital of East Prussia, Königsberg; the surrounding territory is the northern half of that historic German province. In 1945, Königsberg was captured by the Soviet army and subsequently incorporated into the Soviet Union as part of the Russian Federation of the USSR and Kaliningrad became the headquarters of the USSR’s Baltic fleet. However, the United States and some legal scholars in the West have, thus far, refused to accept its de jure incorporation into either the USSR or Russia, leaving open a possible change in its future status.
The post-Kosovo Refugee Crisis: Italy - the Problem
HITS: 2444 | 17-01-2003, 05:28 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Albania, Global Events, War and peace
The majority of illegal immigrants enter Western Europe through the south-eastern Puglia region of Italy. The area is poor but it has two important ports, Bari and Brindisi, which connect Italy with the Balkans, Greece and Albania with regular ferry services used by many freight vehicles. A flat, scrubby coastline dotted with abandoned buildings makes clandestine landings from the small craft _ mainly fast rubber boats with outboard motors _ used by the Italian and Albanian smugglers (known as Scafisti) and the dispersal of their cargo of asylum seekers relatively easy.
It is general knowledge that most of the smuggling operates from southern Albania, from the port of Vlora (Italian Valona) from where high - powered speed boats that carry around 40 passengers usually evade the Italian coastguard patrols to reach the coast. Although the trade in refugees has been publicized widely since the Kosovo crisis _ many Kosovan refugees paid middlemen to arrange their departure from camps in Albania _ it has been going on for some time. In January 1998 BHHRG representatives saw groups of mainly young men making their way in broad daylight towards boats waiting along beach of the bay in Vlora. Police stood nearby doing nothing even though the new Albanian government (elected in summer 1997) had assured European governments of its commitment to stamp out the trade.
HITS: 2019 | 17-01-2003, 05:13 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Albania, Global Events, War and peace
With the end of the 78 day war between NATO and Yugoslavia, hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians may have returned home, but a new refugee crisis has followed. During the summer, the British Helsinki Human Rights Group conducted several on-the-spot observation missions in Dover, Calais and south-eastern Italy to analyze the complex and controversial issues of political asylum, migration, and the role of the mafia in people smuggling. Real Refugees, the Abuse of Asylum and Organized Crime With the end of the 78 day war between NATO and Yugoslavia, hundreds of thousands of Kosovar Albanians may have returned home, but a new refugee has crisis followed. The flow of would-be asylum seekers claiming to be from Kosovo and trying to enter EU states has not stopped. During the summer several European countries reported an upsurge in the number of refugees arriving and seeking asylum, notably Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy. During the summer, the British Helsinki Human Rights Group conducted several on-the-spot observation missions in Dover, Calais and south-eastern Italy to analyze the complex and controversial issues of political asylum, migration, and the role of the mafia in people smuggling.
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.
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.
HITS: 1855 | 27-12-2002, 22:48 | Comments: (0) | Categories: EU , Political science, Analyzing
The monolithic line of the Soviet superpower was promoted by vast campaigns conducted via petitions expressing international solidarity against U.S. imperialism and its lackeys. The “Letter” or the “Petition” expressing the will of the working class or peace-loving nations was a standard Stalinist ploy in public diplomacy. A signature on such a document implied loyalty to much more than the text itself: it was a declaration of fealty to the Kremlin. At the height of the Cold war US actors and intellectuals who had signed Soviet-inspired or CPUSA promoted appeals for peace or international solidarity fell foul of the McCarthyite blacklist.