BHHRG

About BHHRG

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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Kosovo: Independence as (the Final) Solution
HITS: 2209 | 18-08-2004, 00:25 | Comments: (0) | Categories: Serbia , Analyzing, Global Events

On 25th May, the UN’s special representative Harri Halkeri announced his resignation. It would be unfair to pin all the blame for Kosovo’s recent problems on him. He was simply the latest in a line of international officials who have presided over the consequences of the war in 1999. The NATO states fought that war on a false premise. Their propaganda blaming the Serbs for all the region’s ills and boasting about the Alliance’s ability to restore order and prosperity to a “multi-cultural” Kosovo/a has proven entirely false. Only the fact that the Western media was so implicated in spouting the NATO line and therefore has been unwilling to revisit and question much of what it had reported has prevented Western audiences discovering how disastrous the post-1999 situation in Kosovo has been.
Whereas the violent resistance in Iraq has shaken complacent support for the Bush-Blair line there, the fact that violence in Kosovo has been largely directed by the Albanian majority at the Serb and other minorities with very few KFOR casualties[1] (and most of those caused by mutual fights or suicides) means that the Western media have not given the negative realities of Kosovo remotely the same level of coverage as Iraq has received. If Serbs, for instance, had waged guerrilla warfare against NATO forces as Iraqis have against US and others in Iraq, or as Albanians have in southern Serbia and Macedonia repeatedly since 1999, then their plight might well have been noticed and even steps taken to improve conditions for them in Kosovo.

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US midterm elections: Political demographics and redistricting
HITS: 1935 | 29-11-2002, 09:28 | Comments: (0) | Categories: United States , Elections, Political leaders

Florida has perhaps witnessed more controversy than any other state in America on the issue of redistricting, the process of redrawing the boundaries of legislative districts due to population changes (see Lucy Morgan, “Redistricting squabbles a sign of fights to come,” St. Petersburg Times, June 22, 2002). An editorial from the Naples Daily News from July 2002 reads as follows:
We wondered who Florida lawmakers were listening to when they carved the state into new U.S. House districts.
Actually, we did know. They were listening to friends in high political places — Florida’s big cities and Washington. We were asking rhetorically, because we knew lawmakers were not listening to Southwest Florida constituents who wanted to stick together.

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US midterm elections: New Voting Systems
HITS: 2188 | 29-11-2002, 09:19 | Comments: (0) | Categories: United States , Foreign media, Politics

The new iVotronic voting system in use in Miami-Dade County and other areas of Florida was produced by Omaha, Nebraska-based Election Systems & Software (ES&S). In 2001, ES&S received an order from various counties in Florida for $70.6 million to provide the new system. Of this sum, Miami-Dade County paid $24.5 million, while neighboring Broward County paid $18 million. A group called, appropriately, the Florida Association of Counties lobbied for ES&S before the Florida legislature after endorsing ES&S’s touch-screen iVotronic machines, receiving a commission of $300,000 from ES&S in return. The chief lobbyist for ES&S in the deal was Sandra Mortham, who served as Florida’s top election official from 1995-99 and founded “Women for Jeb” (Bush). Some local officials have suggested that Mortham’s actions exhibited a conflict of interest.

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Florida Revisited: An account of the US midterm elections
HITS: 1868 | 29-11-2002, 08:55 | Comments: (0) | Categories: United States , Politics, Elections

BHHRG visited Florida to see whether the conduct of the 2002 midterm elections would represent an improvement on the 2000 presidential poll.
Executive Summary
America held mid-term elections on 5th November, 2002. A third of the Senate and the whole House of Representatives were up for re-election as were 36 state governorships. At the same time, many states held referendums on a raft of local issues as well as elections for school boards.
The elections attracted much attention – both in the US and worldwide. For example, it was the first US election to be observed by a team of monitors from the OSCE/ODIHR, presumably because it presented the first opportunity to scrutinize the US system since the much-derided presidential election of 2000. The elections were also widely viewed as a referendum on President Bush’s ‘war against terror’ as well as providing the administration in Washington with a possible mandate for a future war with Iraq.

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