Amnesty International Urges Helsinki Signatories to Uphold Human Rights

Amnesty International today said that it has appealed to every signatory state of the Helsinki Final Act to work for full implementation of the document’s pledges on the rights of conscience.

In a letter to heads of states participating in the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, Thomas Hammorberg, the Swedish chairman of Amnesty International’s Executive Committee, pointed out that violations of Principle 7 of the Final Act of the Helsinki Agreement had continued in many states of Europe and that domestic legislation punishing some forms of exercise of the rights of conscience by imprisonment has in most cases not been repealed or amended since the Act was signed in 1975. Amnesty hoped that these violations would stimulate rather than impede continuing discussion and development of the Final Act’s human rights provisions.

In Principle 7, the participating states undertook “To recognize and respect the freedom of the individual to profess and practice, alone or in community with others, religion or belief acting in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience,” and to promote “the effective exercise of civil, political, economic, social, cultural and other rights and freedoms.”

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