SCO A "Vehicle For Human Rights Violations," Says Advocacy Group
The Shanghai Cooperation Organization is a "vehicle for human rights violations," according to a report published Monday by the International Federation for Human Rights. The report, which was put together with the help of local human rights organizations in all six SCO member countries (China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan), is a follow up to an earlier paper by a group affiliated with FIDH, Human RIghts in China. This one focuses on how legislation on counterterrorism is influenced by China and Russia via the SCO:
The incorporation of SCO doctrines into member state domestic law extends China and Russia’s control over regional counter-terrorism policies and practices beyond their own national boundaries, by virtue of their status as dominant members of the SCO. This has grave implications for the protection of human rights in Central Asia. On 6 and 7 June 2012, at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Beijing, member states amended an agreement on mechanisms for responding collectively to “events that jeopardise regional peace, security and stability”.
“The recent agreement in Beijing reflects the shared fear among SCO governments of the kind of popular uprisings still unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa, said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President. “The security doctrines of the SCO will add potency to the already expansive and unchecked state power that is often used and abused to criminalize dissent and human rights defenders”, she added.
One might wonder how much legal regimes actually matter to governments that violate their own laws pretty regularly. And it's tough to determine exactly what effect SCO membership has had on the countries of Central Asia. Nonetheless, the report identifies six case studies of human rights violations, involving all six member states, which the FIDH says occurred through the framework of the SCO.
One thing worth noting: the U.S., which floated the idea of cooperation with the SCO last year, unsurprisingly seems to have lost interest, as the report notes: "[T]he United States' recent efforts at rapprochement with the SCO seem unlikely to succeed."