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Alliance for Open Society International, Inc. (AOSI) is a non-profit organization to promote open society by shaping government policy and supporting education, the media, public health, and human rights, especially in Central Asia. AOSI also advocates social, legal, and economic reform to support public health and human rights. It is an organization of the Open Society Network (OSN) established in July 2003.

Operations

AOSI is based in New York Citymarker but to better serve Central Asia, the organization created its first regional branch office in Almaty, Kazakhstanmarker.

From 2002 to 2007, AOSI administered United States Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded drug rehabilitation programs in Uzbekistanmarker, Tajikistanmarker, and the Ferghana Valleymarker Region of Kyrgyzstanmarker. In some cases, the program was tailored in a "culturally appropriate" way to better mesh with local Islamic and Christian and beliefs. According to AOSI:
The countries covered under this program have experienced significant increases in opiate consumption due to geography and recent socio-political events including the collapse of the Soviet Unionmarker and the Afghan conflict. Heroin transiting through these countries has created epidemics of drug use, undermining already fragile economies and threatening to overwhelm health systems with HIV. This has also occurred in other nearby former Soviet republics. (The) mission is to engage all levels of society in reducing demand for heroin and other opiates.


The programs differed from locale to locale; examples of measures included were assistance with drug withdrawal symptoms and detoxification, education about the control of hepatitis infection, halfway houses to help people rehabilitate and readjust to living without drugs, and—at the program for drug addicts in the city of Oshmarker -- the use of acupuncture.

Leadership

Robert Kushen, Chair and President of the Board of Directors, is a former Human Rights Watch reporter, a former Executive Director of Médecins du Monde, a member of the New Yorkmarker Bar Associationn and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Kushen also worked in the Office of the Legal Adviser of the United States Department of Statemarker where he focused on international criminal justice, counterterrorism, intelligence, and international scientific cooperation.

Ricardo Castro, Vice President and General Council for the AOSI, has experience in the area of Latin American corporate finance. Treasurer Steve Gutmann audits AOSI financial operations in New York Citymarker and Budapestmarker. Maria Santos Valentin, Secretary and Deputy General Counsel for the AOSI, has financial experience in several areas, especially Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Lawsuit

In September 2005, AOSI sue the United States Agency for International Development and other U.S. Government agencies in response to the anti-prostitution pledge that was a component of HIV/AIDS policy during the George W. Bush administration being extended to include non-profit organizations based in the United Statesmarker.As described by the online magazine Medical News Today:
At issue in the case is a requirement that public health groups receiving U.S. funds pledge their "opposition to prostitution" in order to continue their life-saving HIV prevention work. Under this "pledge requirement," recipients of U.S. funds are forced to censor even their privately funded speech regarding the most effective ways to engage high-risk groups in HIV prevention.

Just prior to this case, the non-profit organization DKT International had brought a similar lawsuit that prevailed in District Court but lost on appeal at the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The February 2007 ruling was based on the assumption that the government would allow speech regarding prostitution as long as it is done through an affiliate that doesn't receive federal funding.

With the backing of the American Civil Liberties Union, AOSI sued the United States Agency for International Development, the financial backers of its Central Asian drug rehabilitation programs. Co-plaintiffs were the Open Society Institute and Pathfinder International. Lawyers from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Lawmarker represented the plaintiffs.

In May 2006, Judge Victor Marrero, a federal judge of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, issued a preliminary injunction against requiring these organizations to sign the anti-prostitution pledge. Ruling that such a sweeping restriction on the privately funded speech of groups violates the First Amendment, Marrero wrote "The Supreme Court has repeatedly found that speech, or an agreement not to speak, cannot be compelled or coerced as a condition of participation in a government program."

The government appealed the case to the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. During the oral arguments in the case, the government stated that it would allow legally and physically separate affiliates to engage in the prohibited speech.The government issued guidelines to this effect in July 2007. In November 2007, the Appeals Court let the preliminary injunction stand and returned the case for trial to the District Court, where it is currently pending.

External links



References

  1. [1] Alliance for Open Society International, Almaty Branch
  2. [2] USAID-funded Drug Demand Reduction Program in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and the Ferghana Valley Region of Kyrgyzstan (aidsprojects.com)
  3. Conflict in the Soviet Union: Black January in Azerbaidzhan, by Robert Kushen, 1991, Human Rights Watch, ISBN 1564320278, p. 7
  4. [3] Alliance for Open Society International Board
  5. [4] OSI Sues USAID over Dangerous Public Health Policy
  6. [5] Medical News Today "Federal Court Holds "Anti-Prostitution Pledge Requirement" Violates First Amendment" (Main Category: HIV/AIDS, Article Date: 15 May 2006)
  7. US Court of Appeals (2007 February 27) District of Columbia Circuit Decision in DKT v. USAID No. 05-CV-01604. Retrieved 5 September 2008.
  8. [6] American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU Foundation: Amicus Brief in Alliance For Open Society International, Inc., et al. v. United States Agency For International Development, et al. (11/9/2005)
  9. [7] Brennan Center for Justice:Alliance for Open Society International v. USAID Questions and Answers About the August 8, 2008 Ruling Granting InterAction and Global Health Council a Preliminary Injunction
  10. [8] AOSI v. USAID resources, Brennan Center for Justice. Retrieved 8 September 2008.



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