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Europe and Central Asia Overview


August 2001 marked ten years since the failed 1991 coup that presaged the end of the Soviet Union, and the anniversary provoked impatience at the uneven progress on human rights in the region. After the September 11 attacks one month later, impatience turned to regret at the lost opportunities for a more thoroughgoing transition during the interlude between the Cold War and the Anti-terror War.

Many countries in the region had made significant strides since 1991, but abusive authoritarian rule persisted in several, and others still struggled to overcome the ethnic conflict that had engulfed large parts of the disintegrating Soviet Union and Yugoslavia. Looking westward toward eventual integration into the European Union, central and eastern European countries had undertaken important reform, while western Europe had turned inward and become increasingly intolerant of immigration and ethnic diversity. As the year drew to a close, it was not entirely clear what the new post-September 11 era would hold for human rights, but in much the same way the Cold War once distorted the human rights agenda, the prospects for tackling the region's persistent and newly emerging human rights problems seemed suddenly to dim in light of the competing and overriding anti-terrorism imperative.

After September 11, governments from Skopje to Moscow scrambled to cast their own often brutal internal conflicts as part of the new international antiterrorist cause. With too few exceptions, this opportunism went unchecked. At the same time, Western European leaders ramped up their anti-immigrant rhetoric and further restricted the rights of migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers, all in the name of fighting terrorism. And criticism of human rights abuse softened, particularly for those states that were strategically important to the U.S.-led military action in Afghanistan. The United States and Uzbekistan announced a "qualitatively new relationship," notwithstanding the latter's brutal crackdown on independent Muslims. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder urged a reevaluation of Russia's abusive war in Chechnya. In November, U.S. President George Bush praised Russian President Vladimir Putin's talk of negotiating peace in Chechnya, with no public mention of continued atrocities perpetrated against Chechens since September 11.

The most alarming developments of the year came in Central Asia, where the transition from the Soviet Union had brought only grinding poverty and ever more repressive governance. After September 11, it was these very governments that became the essential allies of the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan. Of particular concern was the close and apparently unconditional U.S. relationship with Uzbekistan, where Islam Karimov's dictatorship permitted no true opposition political activity, no civil society, and no independent media and locked up and tortured thousands who dared demonstrate independent thinking. U.S. officials argued that the new relationship with Uzbekistan put them in a better position to address their partner's gross violations, but as this report went to press there was no relief from the Uzbek government's assault on its own society. In the two months following September 11, yet another human rights defender was detained, dissidents and religious believers continued to be arrested and tortured--one died in custody--and convictions on trumped-up charges of anti-state activity continued.

Ethnic conflict had attended the breakup of the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia for ten years, and in 2001 its aftermath continued to shape much of the human rights landscape. Russia's transitional record remained marred by the continued grave violations committed by its forces in Chechnya. As the Chechen conflict dragged into its third year, the government's halfhearted peace bid and promised troop reductions made no difference in the lives of Chechen civilians. Sweep operations purportedly aimed at apprehending rebel fighters resulted in widespread looting, arbitrary detention, torture, and an alarming number of "disappearances" of Chechens last seen in Russian custody, with the bodies of some later found dumped or hastily buried in unmarked graves. Chechen fighters were also believed to be behind an increasing number of abuses, including a wave of assassinations of Chechen civil servants and religious leaders seen as cooperating with the Russian government, and the fatal shooting of Viktor Popkov, a leading Russian human rights activist.

Ethnic tensions flared again in the Balkans, this time in southern Serbia and Macedonia. The response of both the implicated governments and the international community differed from past conflicts in the region, reflecting important transitional developments and lessons learned. When an ethnic Albanian rebel group emerged in southern Serbia, it was clear that Slobodan Milosevic was no longer in power in Belgrade. In contrast to Kosovo in 1998, the international community immediately and intensively engaged and worked with a relatively cooperative Serbian government to address the legitimate grievances of the ethnic Albanian community, including through the deployment of a multiethnic police force in the region. In May the rebels disarmed, and displaced ethnic Albanians began returning to the region. The lack of Albanian representation in local government, serious employment discrimination, and sporadic incidents of ethnic violence remained concerns, but the threat of armed conflict had receded for the time being.

Similar success came more slowly in Macedonia, where for months the government insisted upon a military response to its ethnic Albanian insurgency, led by the so-called National Liberation Army (NLA). The government's security operations were characterized by indiscriminate attacks, widespread arbitrary detentions and beatings of ethnic Albanians, some extrajudicial executions, and vigilante violence tolerated and in some instances abetted by the police. The Albanian rebels were also responsible for serious crimes, including the detention and torture of ethnic Macedonians and Serbs and the "disappearance" of at least ten people from NLA-controlled areas. Determined to avoid another drawn-out war and cognizant of Macedonia's strategic location, the international community mounted an intensive peacemaking effort. Guided by E.U. and U.S. special envoys and supported by OSCE and NATO deployments, on August 13 the Macedonian government concluded a framework peace agreement with the main ethnic Albanian political parties. Deep divisions emerged within the government over the peace deal and implementation lagged behind schedule, but in mid-November the Parliament adopted constitutional amendments to grant important new rights to the ethnic Albanian minority. The peace remained fragile, however, with extremists within the government and police working to derail the process and skirmishes continuing between a new Albanian National Army and Macedonian forces, even as Parliament approved the new constitutional provisions.

Accountability for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity remained a high priority in efforts to resolve the ethnic conflicts that have plagued the region. The April 1 detention of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic and his June 28 transfer to the custody of the Hague tribunal were the high points. While Milosevic stubbornly defied the tribunal and obstructed its proceedings, the prosecutor brought additional charges against him, expanding the Kosovo indictment to include important new charges of sexual violence and adding indictments for war crimes dating from 1991 in Croatia and for genocide and crimes against humanity in the 1992-1995 Bosnia conflict. The discovery in Serbia of new mass graves believed to be filled with the bodies of ethnic Albanians slaughtered during the Kosovo conflict brought unprecedented discussion and reflection in Serbia about its role in the serial wars in Yugoslavia. Cooperation with the tribunal remained a contentious issue, however, pitting Serbian nationalist Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica against the more pragmatic Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia Zoran Djindjic, who saw cooperation as key to obtaining further Western integration and much-needed debt forgiveness. Pragmatism seemed to win the day, with six indictees, in addition to Milosevic, having gone from Yugoslavia to The Hague by the end of November--three by surrender and three by Serb government arrest. In contrast, there was no public progress on accountability for war-time crimes committed by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) against Serbs and others in Kosovo. The ICTY was reportedly investigating crimes there but issued no indictments. In Kosovo, even speaking publicly about such crimes brought warnings of retribution from former KLA members.

With the dramatic developments in Serbia, the most conspicuous haven for war criminals indicted by the tribunal remained the Republika Srpska, the Bosnian Serb-controlled part of Bosnia, where Bosnian Serb wartime leader Radovan Karadzic and other indictees remained at large. NATO troops deployed in Republika Srpska deserved some of the blame for the indicted war criminals' continued impunity, which undermined the tribunal and the six-year-old Dayton/Paris peace process.

Russian officials repeatedly assured their international critics that those responsible for any abuses in Chechnya would be held accountable. On the eve of the March meeting of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, Russian authorities commenced the high-profile trial of Colonel Yuri Budanov for the killing of Elza Kungaeva in 2000, and in April the Russian Duma presented the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly with a list of 358 investigations under way. Unfortunately, careful scrutiny of the Russian government's accountability effort revealed little more than an international public relations campaign. Few of the cases on the list provided to the Council of Europe dealt with the worst abuses in Chechnya. Even fewer had proceeded beyond the initial investigation phase. As of September, only five cases had resulted in active prison sentences for the perpetrators. Budanov never faced rape charges, though forensic evidence showed that Kungaeva had been sexually assaulted prior to her murder. Morever, Budanov appeared likely to be amnestied altogether after a psychiatric institute found that he had been "emotionally distressed" at the time of Kungaeva's murder.

The decade of ethnic conflict in the region was evidenced in the millions who remained displaced in 2001, in some cases years after they originally left home. In Ingushetia, over 140,000 Chechens remained too fearful to return. More than 750,000 remained registered as displaced from Bosnia and Herzegovina, two-thirds of them within the country, and, because many people no longer registered, actual numbers were likely much higher. Though return increased, it remained at a rate that would take years to reverse the "ethnic cleansing" of the territory. Over 200,000 Serbs were too afraid to return to post-war Kosovo, and another 200,000-plus Serbs declined to return to their homes in Croatia. In Turkey, although armed clashes in the southeast essentially ceased in 1999 and the government announced an ambitious return program, few of the 250,000 internally displaced Kurds from that region ventured home. More than 800,000 Azeris remained displaced from Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts of Azerbaijan, seven years after a 1994 cease-fire. About 280,000 Georgians who fled their homes in Abkhazia when the Georgian army surrendered Sukhumi to Abkhazian separatist forces in 1993 continued to endure displacement in Georgia. Sixty thousand Ossetians and 12,000 Georgians remained displaced from their homes in Georgia and its autonomous territory of South Ossetia after the 1991-1992 fighting between Georgians and Ossetians over South Ossetia.

Neither the affected countries nor the international community demonstrated much determination to tackle this persistent problem, which left millions living in substandard conditions and unable to return to their homes and property. In some cases initial post-war efforts had not been sustained as attention and resources shifted to new crises. In others no attempt at promoting return or restitution was ever made. The prospects for any concerted efforts to enable return became ever more remote once the aftermath of September 11 drew humanitarian attention to a new crisis spot, Afghanistan. The long-term impact of displacement was difficult to assess and varied among countries, yet in many places its effect on postwar reconciliation and the prospects for lasting peace remained a serious cause for concern.

Poverty, conflict, and human rights abuse in the region and beyond drove hundreds of thousands to travel to Western Europe to seek a better life. The inhumane and often deadly conditions they endured to reach their destination spoke volumes of their desperation. Trafficking of women for forced prostitution remained an urgent concern throughout the region. In many countries the victims of trafficking faced prosecution and expulsion while their traffickers, sometimes in cahoots with local police, carried on with their lucrative criminal business. Recent years had seen heightened attention to the problem of trafficking, with high-level meetings convened on the subject at the European Union, OSCE, and Council of Europe. Whether these initiatives would be pursued remained an open question as international attention shifted to the all-consuming antiterrorism effort after September 11.

Western European countries' attempts to address the demands of increased migration often led to more restrictive immigration and asylum laws, with little concern for the rights of vulnerable migrants and refugees. Detention conditions for migrants were grossly substandard in a number of countries, and many detainees were denied basic procedural guarantees in the detention and deportation process. Proposals to hinder migrants' access to basic healthcare and to deny migrant children access to education were hotly debated in several countries.

In the aftermath of September 11, many European countries adopted antiterrorism measures inimical to migrants and refugees. In Hungary, all Afghan refugees were transported to special detention facilities. In Greece, some migrants arriving on ships were denied access to asylum procedures and given fifteen-day expulsion orders. The United Kingdom proposed emergency anti-terrorism legislation that would deny some asylum seekers an individual determination procedure, classify as "terrorist" any foreigners with ill-defined "links" to terrorist organizations, and allow authorities to indefinitely detain them. National governments were spurred on by developments at the E.U. level, where proposals to combat terrorism included a broad definition of terrorism that threatened to undermine freedom of assembly and association and a European arrest warrant that lacked adequate fair trial safeguards.

Racist violence targeting migrants and refugees mounted in Western Europe, particularly in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Politicians failed to curb this abuse, too often encouraging it with inflammatory rhetoric equating the fight against terror with the fight against illegal immigration.

European efforts to come to terms with diversity became ever more critical with the European Union's rapidly approaching eastward expansion, set in motion in the heady, early post-Cold War years. With as many as ten countries to be admitted by 2004, much remained to be done to restructure E.U. institutions, as well as to adjust applicant states' laws to E.U. norms. In the field of human rights, poor treatment of Roma remained a challenge for nearly all applicant states. Turkey's persistent problems relating to torture, free expression, and minority rights kept it as a case apart among applicant states. Its National Program for Accession to the E.U. announced in March and the constitutional amendments adopted in October were both disappointing. The national program was too vague to raise any hope of meaningful change. Not surprisingly then, incommunicado detention, the death penalty, and emergency rule remained in place, and important free expression guarantees were neglected. Having missed these important opportunities for meaningful reform, Turkey continued to face a long road to E.U. membership.


Conditions for human rights defenders varied widely in the region, with activists in some countries free to develop innovative new projects while others struggled just to survive in extremely hostile environments. In Turkmenistan, no independent activist dared undertake any human rights activity. In Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, and Uzbekistan, defenders worked under siege, facing a constant threat of harassment, police raids, violent attacks by unknown assailants, arrest, torture, and conviction on trumped-up charges. Under pressure from the U.S. government, Uzbekistan released human rights defenders Mahbuba Kasymova in December 2000 and Ismail Adylov in July 2001. In the course of the year, however, the Uzbek government detained two others, one of whom--Shovruk Ruzimuradov--died in custody.

Defenders also put their lives on the line in Chechnya, where Chechen fighters were believed responsible for the shooting death of Russian human rights activist Viktor Popkov and the January kidnapping of humanitarian aid worker Kenneth Gluck, who was subsequently released unharmed. Russian forces maintained strict control on access to Chechnya for human rights monitors, with most groups, including Human Rights Watch, refused entry to the territory.

Accountability for the murders of defenders remained a low priority for many governments in the region. The United Kingdom again failed to set a positive example in this respect, persistently refusing to establish independent inquiries into the murders in Northern Ireland of human rights lawyers Patrick Finucane and Rosemary Nelson, despite calls to do so from the United Nations, the U.S. government, bar councils across the globe, and many nongovernmental organizations.

Notwithstanding the challenges they faced, rights workers in many countries undertook creative new projects to strengthen protection and build a larger grassroots constituency for human rights. In Turkey, Sanar Yurdatapan's Freedom of Expression Initiative challenged the authorities on their arbitrary restrictions on free speech by enlisting internationally acclaimed authors to republish statements for which the original authors had been prosecuted. Throughout the region the Central and Eastern Europe Bankwatch Network trained and empowered consumer, human rights, and environmental groups to challenge international financial institutions to take into consideration the impact of their operations on local communities. Rights groups, refugee, and migrants organizations joined forces in many European countries to advocate for the fundamental human rights of migrants and refugees, and to highlight anti-immigration policies and inflammatory government rhetoric that often contributed to a hostile climate for these vulnerable groups. An effective coalition of nongovernmental organizations undertook a multiyear effort to promote implementation and enforcement of a new E.U. directive aimed at combating race discrimination. Another alliance of groups came together to battle for victim and witness protection measures in the E.U. Council Framework Decision on Trafficking of Human Beings. These and many other initiatives reflected the creativity and resolve of a resilient civil society that, particularly after September 11, was the region's best hope for positive change.


United Nations

The contentious debate on Chechnya at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights ultimately yielded a strongly worded resolution condemning ongoing violations of international humanitarian law there and pressing for accountability and monitoring by the United Nation's human rights mechanisms. The European Union tabled the resolution but under the Swedish presidency negotiated an alternative consensus chairman's statement with Russia. The United States (supported quietly by some E.U. member states) found the statement too weak and pressed for a vote on the resolution. When the resolution passed, Russia immediately denounced it, refusing to meet any of the demands it contained. Neither the European Union, the resolution's reluctant sponsor, nor the United States, the resolution's ultimate champion, publicly raised its implementation during the year. When U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan visited Moscow in May, however, he did urge access for the U.N. human rights mechanisms identified in the resolution.

The United Nations maintained a massive peace implementation operation in Kosovo, the U.N. Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK). Though it gradually shifted certain responsibilities to local authorities, UNMIK, together with the NATO-led peacekeeping force (KFOR), retained responsibility for security and judicial affairs, where its activities did not always meet international human rights standards. In particular, there was a tendency to sacrifice due process guarantees in the name of improvements to the security situation in the province. Trials of several Kosovo Serbs and Roma charged before the Kosovo courts with war crimes and genocide suffered from serious fair trial shortcomings, while the number of international judges and prosecutors remained far below what was needed to address ethnic bias in the administration of justice.

The International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia made significant progress toward achieving justice for war crimes committed in the Balkan wars. The detention and transfer of Milosevic was a watershed for the tribunal, whose prosecutor Carla Del Ponte persistently pressed the new Yugoslav government to cooperate. There were important developments in other cases during the year as well. In the first eleven months of 2001 seventeen defendants surrendered or were arrested and transferred to custody in The Hague. Giving the lie to charges of bias against Serbs, the tribunal continued investigations of KLA crimes in Kosovo and issued indictments against Croatian generals Rahim Ademi and Ante Gotovina. The tribunal also created an important precedent with convictions for crimes against humanity and war crimes in the Foca case, the first to focus entirely on rapes and sexual assaults perpetrated against women in wartime. Finally, the tribunal played an important deterrent role by opening an office in Skopje and reminding the parties to the conflict in Macedonia that it had jurisdiction over any war crimes they might commit. In November, Del Ponte announced that the tribunal would be investigating war crimes committed by both government forces and the ethnic Albanian insurgency.

An unqualified success of the U.N. World Conference Against Racism in Durban was the clear articulation of the fundamental rights of refugees and migrants and a wholesale rejection of the anti-immigration, "Fortress Europe" mentality that dominated Western Europe throughout the 1990s. Realizing the gains of the conference with respect to the rights of migrants and refugees promised to be a difficult task, however, particularly in light of the repressive measures taken by many European governments in the aftermath of September 11.

Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE)

The OSCE started the year reeling from an embarrassing December 2000 ministerial meeting where foreign ministers failed to agree on a final communiqué after Russia refused to include any reference to Chechnya. In June 2001, Russia finally permitted the redeployment in Chechnya of the OSCE Assistance Group, a year and a half after the OSCE Istanbul Summit at which then-President Yeltsin agreed to the redeployment. A combination of cumbersome security arrangements and OSCE timidity in pursuing the mandate substantially compromised the mission's potential for curbing ongoing abuse. Even its modest monitoring activities brought intense criticism from the Russian authorities.

The OSCE played an important confidence-building role in Macedonia. In September, 159 new international staff--mostly security monitors and police advisors--were added to the fifty-one already deployed. Adopting an overly restrictive interpretation of its mandate, however, the mission limited its human rights monitoring activities. Particularly disappointing was its failure to report its findings on an August government assault on the village of Ljuboten that left ten ethnic Albanian civilians dead, over a hundred detained and beaten, and scores of houses burnt down. Interior Minister Ljube Boskovski, who was present in Ljuboten the day of the operation, referred to the OSCE's silence as confirmation that the security forces conducted themselves appropriately.

In Kosovo, the OSCE organized municipal and Kosovo assembly elections in line with U.N. resolution 1244, which governs the province. In Albania, the OSCE's Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) published a report that, although diplomatically couched, was critical of the electoral system and government manipulation in the June 24 parliamentary elections.

The OSCE continued to finance antitrafficking projects in the region, focusing primarily on public education campaigns and work by nongovernmental organizations. In addition, with financial support from the government of Germany, the OSCE sponsored a high-level conference on trafficking in human beings in October 2001. Participants made numerous recommendations to member states, but it remained unclear at the time of this writing whether any of those recommendations would be implemented.

Council of Europe

Throughout the year, Council of Europe experts were seconded to the office of President Putin's representative on human rights in Chechnya, Vladimir Kalamanov, and the Parliamentary Assembly pursued a dialogue on Chechnya with the Russian Duma. Neither effort had significant impact on the ground, disappointing in particular in their failure to press effectively for accountability. When the bodies of fifty-one people--at least sixteen of whom were last seen in Russian custody--were found dumped near the Russian military's Khankala base, bearing evidence of torture and execution, the Council of Europe experts failed even to visit the site or monitor the forensic examination and investigation.

Continuing an unfortunate pattern of decisions on new members, in 2001 the Council of Europe undermined its own standards by admitting states that flagrantly violated them. Following a premature mid-2000 Parliamentary Assembly recommendation that Armenia and Azerbaijan be admitted, the Committee of Ministers delayed their admission until after the November general elections in Azerbaijan. Though Council of Europe officials who monitored the elections found the electoral fraud there scandalous, and a partial repolling did little to remedy the situation, the council admitted both states in late January 2001. Likely setting in motion a similar set of concessions, in September the Political Affairs Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly recommended that Bosnia and Herzegovina be admitted, though few of the conditions for admission identified in 1999 had been fully achieved.

The European Court of Human Rights remained an important source of redress for human rights abuse, though its growing caseload meant justice was often long delayed. It issued an important decision against the United Kingdom for inadequate investigations into the killings of eleven people by security forces and paramilitaries in Northern Ireland and admitted the first two cases against Russia since its admission to the Council of Europe in 1996. The court censured Turkey for, among other things, the conduct of its forces in the southeast and for the unfair 1994 trial that landed four Kurdish parliamentary deputies in prison. In a controversial July decision the Court sided with Turkey over the 1998 closure of the Islamist Welfare Party. Finding that the party's intention to establish Islamic law conflicted with Council of Europe norms, the court effectively endorsed the Turkish government's particular form of secularism, often used to restrict nonviolent expression and other democratic freedoms.

European Union

The European Union's accession process remained a valuable incentive for human rights progress among applicant states. In the European Union's annual assessment of applicant states, only Turkey failed to satisfy the political criteria for admission.

On a number of critical issues, however, the E.U.'s stance undermined human rights principles. The European Union led the international embrace of the new Yugoslav government of Vojislav Kostunica, without regard for his refusal to cooperate with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. While the United States demanded Kostunica cooperate or lose assistance, the European Union moved forward to organize a May 31 donors conference. Only the threat of a U.S. no-show caused the European Union to postpone the conference until June 30, by which time the Serb government had been compelled to transfer Milosevic. A similar myopia infected E.U. policy toward Russia. The European Union and its member states continued their aggressive cultivation of Russian President Vladimir Putin with virtually no public reference to the ongoing abuses in Chechnya. Though it sponsored the resolution on Chechnya at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights, the European Union did almost everything possible to scuttle it.

In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the European Union entertained a number of proposed security measures that would not only violate human rights at home, but also undermine the E.U.'s credibility as a champion for human rights abroad. The proposed security measures contained an overbroad definition of "terrorist activity" that could potentially have the same sweeping effect as laws used to silence dissidents in, for example, Turkey and Uzbekistan. Having pressed for conformity with fair trial standards in E.U. applicant states and elsewhere abroad, the European Union itself entertained a proposal for a European arrest warrant that lacked sufficient fair trial guarantees.

United States

In the first eight months of the year, the Bush administration sent the mixed signals of a human rights policy still in formation. On the one hand the administration announced a foreign policy driven by strictly construed and narrowly defined national interests, seeming to foreshadow a retreat from peacekeeping and promoting human rights. After initial equivocation, however, the Bush administration firmly committed to keeping its troops in the Balkans. The arrest and transfer of Slobodan Milosevic and other indicted war criminals in Yugoslavia to the Hague tribunal probably would not have happened, at least for years to come, without concerted U.S. pressure. The United States was also the most principled advocate of a resolution on Chechnya at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights.

After September 11, however, the U.S. anti-terrorism effort threatened to sweep aside the human rights agenda, most notably in relations with key anti-terror allies Russia and Uzbekistan. Once again the United States squandered its leverage to obtain rights improvements when the State Department omitted Uzbekistan from its list of the most egregious violators of human rights. In November, President Bush hosted Russian President Putin for three days in Washington and Texas, with little more than gratuitous reference to ongoing Russian government abuses in Chechnya.

International Financial Institutions

Human rights continued to play an ever more important role in the operations of the international financial institutions, although certain issues remained too controversial for the banks to touch. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) began to take a more robust approach to its charter mandate to invest only in countries committed to the principles of multiparty democracy. In strongly worded letters to the presidents of Belarus and Turkmenistan, EBRD President Jacques Lemierre threatened both countries with expulsion from the bank unless they started to show some evidence of such a commitment. The bank's approach to democratization issues was, however, uneven. While Turkmenistan and Belarus were censured, Uzbekistan received relatively muted criticism, and plans to hold the 2003 EBRD annual meeting in Tashkent moved forward without any apparent concern for the symbolism of convening in such a repressive environment.

The World Bank continued to emphasize the importance of judicial and legal reform, sponsoring a major conference on the subject in St. Petersburg in July. In its policy dialogue with states, the bank increasingly emphasized the importance of criminal law reform, but it remained hesitant to finance the much-needed reform of Soviet-era criminal codes, which remained a source of rampant corruption and abuse.

At the same time, the international financial institutions resisted calls for them to condition financing in Yugoslavia on the government's cooperation with the ICTY. In the same vein, they refused to link their operations in Russia to improved conditions in Chechnya.


Human Rights Watch's work tracked the most serious human rights problems in the region. We gathered testimony about abuse in Chechnya in research missions to neighboring Ingushetia in February and July. In two separate reports, we published our findings on forced disappearances and on the government's botched investigation into the mass grave near the Khankala Russian military base. We also monitored the opening hearings in the Budanov trial. By presenting our research to government officials in national capitals and in Geneva, we helped make the case for the Chechnya resolution adopted at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights. We also successfully pressed the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly to enter into a serious dialogue on accountability with its Duma counterparts. When the Duma produced a long list of crimes investigated, our analysis helped policy makers appreciate the holes in the list.

Human Rights Watch also continued to track the government of Uzbekistan's brutal crackdown on independent Muslims, their families, and supporters. In August we published a memorandum on the key aspects of the campaign and pressed the U.S. government to name Uzbekistan a country of particular concern under its International Religious Freedom Act. A December 2000 report described the systematic and increasingly deadly use of torture in Uzbekistan. A second report on Uzbekistan, released in June 2001, highlighted the plight of victims of domestic violence, which Uzbek police and local councils routinely countenanced, advising terrorized victims to return to their husbands. Two years of advocacy on behalf of jailed human rights defenders Mahbuba Kasymova and Ismail Adylov were rewarded with their releases in December 2000 and July 2001, respectively. We honored Adylov at our annual dinner in November 2001, which he attended only after a long struggle to obtain an exit visa from the government of Uzbekistan to visit the United States for the event.

Uzbekistan was not the only country where religious freedom was the focus of our work. In an August memorandum we also documented the escalating violence against non-orthodox religious believers in Georgia. We repeatedly raised the issue in letters to Georgian President Eduard Schevardnadze and urged the U.S. government to take appropriate action under the International Religious Freedom Act.

When conflict erupted in Macedonia, we sent five consecutive research missions to monitor the conduct of both sides and published our findings in a series of press releases and a report on the abusive government operation in Ljuboten. In Skopje, Washington, Brussels, and Vienna, we briefed officials on our findings and recommended an active international human rights monitoring presence and a role for the Hague tribunal.

Building on a decade of research into violations committed in the wars in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, we pressed for accountability for former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic and others responsible for war crimes. We documented and publicized the Yugoslav government's failure to cooperate with the Hague tribunal. An open letter from Human Rights Watch to Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, published in the Belgrade daily Danas, countered his arguments against the tribunal. After Milosevic's transfer to The Hague, a Human Rights Watch representative attended each of his hearings, providing background and commentary for the media chronicling the proceedings. In October we published a six-hundred-page account of violations of international humanitarian law committed in 1998-1999 in Kosovo, primarily by Serbian and Yugoslav forces, but also by the rebel ethnic-Albanian Kosovo Liberation Army, and, though not of a criminal nature, by NATO. Releasing the report in events in Pristina, Djakovica, and Belgrade, we aimed to contribute to ongoing discussions about justice and reconciliation among Serbs and Albanians.

In Turkey, the ongoing prisons crisis remained a priority, as did advocacy aimed at promoting an ambitious reform agenda for Turkey's E.U. accession process. In June and July we conducted a six-week investigation of the Turkish government's efforts to promote return of those displaced from the southeast and found that its program fell far short of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. In Albania, a November mission focused on restrictions on freedom of the media.

Finally, we continued our monitoring of the treatment of migrants in Western Europe, publishing the results of a November 2000 investigation in Greece in a series of memoranda and letters highlighting gaps in proposed immigration legislation, inadequate detention conditions for foreigners, and the Greek government's complete failure to address the serious problem of trafficking in women for forced prostitution. Our work on detention conditions in Greece sparked close scrutiny of Greece's record by U.N. and Council of Europe bodies and contributed to a growing civil society engagement on migrant rights issues in Greece. We followed up on the trafficking issue with senior government meetings in Athens in October. Trafficking was also the focus of a midyear research mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina. In July, October, and November 2001, we continued our research on migrant rights issues in Spain, focusing in particular on the law and practice pertaining to migrants who had just arrived or were in detention. After September 11, our research in Western Europe took on a new dimension as we monitored and condemned excessively restrictive security measures proposed at both the E.U. and national levels and their impact on migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers.

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