Armenia and Azerbaijan together have taken a sudden leap forward in the last few weeks toward full institutional integration into Europe. Yet their human rights record will continue to set them apart from their fellow "Europeans" for the foreseeable future.
It is well known that in the Soviet Union there were never any independent non-governmental organizations or opposition movements. Keeping this in mind, it is clear why the observance of internationally recognized human rights norms is surrounded by controversy in present day Azerbaijan.
Top officials at the Council of Europe say they anticipate that both Armenia and Azerbaijan will soon gain admission to the Council as full members. The decision will be made later this week during a meeting of the Council's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE).
On April 26, a court case opened in the southern Kyrgyzstani city of Osh in which several members of an opposition part, Hizb ut-Tahrir, faced charges of inciting interethnic hatred. The trial marked the latest stage of the Kyrgyz government's intense campaign against its political opponents.
Torture is the western world's dirty little secret. In a new report, the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights (IHF) identified torture and other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as one of the OSCE region's most wide-spread problems.
After years of engaging in increasingly blatant human rights violations, President Askar Akayev's administration has launched a full-fledged campaign to neutralize political opposition. In the days before and after run-off parliamentary elections March 12, the government arrested, or otherwise stripped of political potential, virtually all of the country's opposition leaders.
The US State Department evaluates human rights conditions of the eight nations of the Caucasus and Central in its twenty-second Annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. The country reports, released on February 25, describe conditions as "uneven" in Georgia and Kyrgyzstan; "poor" in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan; and "extremely poor" in Turkmenistan.