OSCE CiO Warsaw Human Dimension Conference Warsaw, 26 September – 7 October 2022

EU statement – Plenary session 7 Rule of Law II

1.Lasting security cannot be sustained without respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, democracy and the rule of law. It constitutes the core of the EU's foreign and security policy and of the OSCE concept of comprehensive security.
2.All OSCE participating States agreed to enhance our efforts to strengthen the rule of law and recognized that all persons and institutions, public and private, including the State itself, are bound by just, fair, proportionate and equitable laws. Every person is entitled, without discrimination, to equal protection by the law and a guarantee of the right to a fair trial. Selectivity and the arbitrary exercise of powers in the application of the law does not comply with these core principles.
3.In light of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine, theEU emphasizes the states’ obligation to uphold international humanitarian law, human rights and fundamental freedoms, and respect due legal process in case of armed conflict. We remind Russia that all Ukrainian prisoners of war are under Russia’s legal protection. Any legal proceedings against them must abide by general legal principles,including a right to an effective defence and the prohibition of coercion to an admission of guilt. Wilfully depriving a prisoner of war of the right to a fair and regular tria lconstitutes a war crime.
4.The EU is also most concerned about reports, including under the Moscow Mechanism, on Russia‘s tendency to bypass its international obligations by handing detained persons over to the non-government controlled areas of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine. These entities have no legal authority and it is unacceptable that Russia allows them to engage in problematic practices, including the imposition of the “death penalty” resulting from processes that fail to meet the basic standards of a fair trial.

5.Russia's external aggression is accompanied by accelerating internal repression,dismantling the rule of law and challenging the principle of separation of powers. The staggering amount of politicized persecutions in Russia calls into question the independence of its judicial system. Since 24 February, over 16,400 Russians have been detained for protesting against Russia’s war, including Russian opposition and human right activists, among them Mr. Vladimir Kara-Murza, who faces up to 15 years in prison. We also continue to deplore all politically motivated sentencing, including against Mr. Alexei Navalny, and Mr. Yuri Dmitriev.
6.The EU follows also with concern the further increased repression in Belarus, including through politically motivated trials and unjustifiably long and harsh court sentences.Earlier this month yet another 10 political prisoners, including volunteers of the Human rights centre “Viasna”, Ms. Marfa Rabkova and Mr. Andrey Chapiuk, were sentenced to lengthy prison terms. It is unacceptable that many of the accused are tried in secret,unfair and biased trials, often under fabricated charges and with no legal safeguards.
7.Let me conclude with the following recommendations:

  • The OSCE pS should ensure full respect for the principles of separation ofpowers and the independence of judiciary, in compliance with internationalstandards and their international commitments.
  • At all times, including in case of armed conflict, human rights, fundamentalfreedoms, and due legal process need to be respected, with transparent andfair judicial rulings, in line with the rule of law, international humanitarian lawand other international obligations and commitments.
  • The OSCE pS should support ODIHR’s monitoring activities of trials andelections helping states to comply with their commitments in the area of the rule of law.

The Candidate Countries REPUBLIC of NORTH MACEDONIA*, MONTENEGRO*, ALBANIA*, UKRAINE and REPUBLIC OF MOLDOVA, the EFTA countries ICELAND and LIECHTENSTEIN, members of the European Economic Area, as well as ANDORRA and SAN MARINO align themselves with this statement.

*Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of theStabilisation and Association Process.