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United Nations experts on torture gravely concerned about reprisals against Russian NGOs
Thursday, 06 June 2013 17:30

 

(Geneva – 7 June, 2013) – The UN Committee Against Torture, a body of independent experts tasked with holding governments to account for their international human rights obligations under the UN Convention Against Torture, has voiced grave concern about alleged reprisals against two Russian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provided information to the Committee in November 2012.

 

The Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial in St Petersburg and the Public Verdict Foundation in Moscow have recently been charged by Russian prosecutors with violating controversial new legislation that requires NGOs involved in advocacy activities to register as ‘foreign agents’ if they receive foreign funding. The cases cited information submitted to the Committee Against Torture as the basis for the charges.

 

“Unfortunately these charges reflect a broader trend in Russia in which freedoms of assembly, association and expression are being increasingly restricted and human rights defenders targeted and harassed for their work”, said Madeleine Sinclair of the International Service for Human Rights.

 

According to a recent Human Rights Watch Report, human rights defenders and NGOs are facing a crackdown in Russia that is unprecedented since Soviet times.

 

“The charges in the present case are a clear violation of Russia’s obligation under the Convention Against Torture to ensure that witnesses are protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of a complaint or any evidence given”, said Ms Sinclair.  

 

ISHR applauds the Committee Against Torture for addressing these allegations and seeking assurances that the NGOs will not face any reprisals as a result of their legitimate activities and cooperation with the Committee.

 

ISHR continues to call for the UN to consistently and effectively address reprisals.

 

“Human rights defenders must be able to communicate their concerns to the UN without fearing for their safety,” said Ms Sinclair “Fear of reprisal can hinder participation, depriving the UN of the information and experience it relies on to carry out its work and rendering the human rights mechanisms of the UN essentially inaccessible.”

 

Contact: Madeleine Sinclair, Legal Counsel, International Service for Human Rights, on This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or + 1 212 490 2199.

 

Full text of the letters from the Committee Against Torture: 17 May 2013 and 28 May 2013
ISHR statement on the global trend towards restricting access to funds for human rights advocacy.
ISHR Manual on preventing and redressing reprisals against human rights defenders.

 

Last Updated on Friday, 07 June 2013 09:28
 
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