Participating states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE, have committed themselves to rights and fundamental freedoms.
At the OSCE’s annual Human Dimension Implementation meeting in Warsaw in September, participating states expressed concerns about Russia’s aggressive actions against its neighbors and about repression within Russia. Russia’s misuse of vague “anti-extremist” laws is contributing to a chilling effect on freedom of expression, stifling independent criticism of the government.
"We are concerned that Russians who seek to freely express their opinions," said U.S. Ambassador to the OSCE Daniel Baer, "may face criminal charges, such as Yekaterina Vologzheninova, who simply shared links on social media related to Ukraine and now faces up to four years in jail on spurious charges of 'inciting ethnic hatred.'"
In Azerbaijan, people are being imprisoned for exercising their fundamental freedoms.The United States urges the authorities in Baku to release all such persons, including Khadija Ismayilova and Rasul Jafarov.
Belarus has not lived up to its OSCE commitments as it continues to place limitations on the political opposition, media, and civil society. The United States urges Belarus to repeal article 193.1 of the Criminal Code that criminalizes public activities undertaken without official permission and implement the long-overdue electoral and media reforms that would allow for true competition and informed voter choice.
Concerns about democracy in Hungary persist, in particular unwarranted investigations of watchdog nongovernmental organizations. There are also concerns about anti-migrant rhetoric, the treatment of refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants, and school segregation of Roma, and the United States looks to the Hungarian government to address them.
Some members of peaceful opposition groups were precluded from attending the OSCE meeting in Warsaw, including Zarafo Khujaeva, who remains in detention along with fellow members of the now-banned Islamic Renaissance Party of Tajikistan.
It is incumbent on every OSCE member state to respect human rights and fundamental freedoms and to combat intolerance, discrimination, and hate crimes.