OSCE official urges countries to fight with terrorism along with observing rights

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WARSAW, October 16. /TASS/. The new Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir of Iceland told TASS on Monday she believes disregard for human rights, intolerance and discrimination only lubricate the proliferation of terrorism in Europe.

She said a considerable number of terrorist attacks had occurred in the OSCE region recently.

"There have been a significant number of terrorist attacks not only in Europe, but in the OSCE area in general, so governments across the OSCE must deal with this threat," Gisladottir said. "It is important to understand that when doing so they are bound by international human rights obligations. Anything else is unacceptable and moreover, carries the risk of being counterproductive."

"The path towards violent extremism is different from individual to individual, but human rights violations, lack of rule of law, and ethnic, national and religious discrimination have all been identified and accepted by the countries in the OSCE as among contributing factors," the ODIHR director said.

She indicated that, in recent years, there has been greater attention to issues like protecting the human rights of migrants or countering violent extremism and radicalization "[…] that can lead to terrorism."

"Addressing intolerance, discrimination, and hate crimes is also extremely important, as intolerance and discrimination seem to be on the rise in the region," Gisladottir said.

"Intolerance and discrimination against Muslims, like against other groups on the basis of religion, national origin or ethnicity, are not new, but reports of such incidents have been on the rise in recent years," she said. "Education and awareness-raising, both in schools and in outreach to the broader public, including the media, play an important role in countering hostility towards and prejudice against Muslims."

Gisladottir admitted that migration to Europe has presented significant challenges for a large number of countries in the OSCE region.

"With regard to the work our Office does, we are working to help states ensure that the human rights and security of migrants are promoted and protected," she said. "As is too often the case with groups in vulnerable situations within our societies, migrants can become the targets of discrimination, and sometimes even violence. ODIHR's role is to assist OSCE countries in their efforts to prevent this from happening.".