Russia must stop repressing fundamental freedoms
Human Rights, Peace, Democracy and Law, 02/07/2019
On the 1st of July, during the 41st Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation delivered a statement in partnership with Human Rights Centre Memorial which called on the Council to draw its attention to Russia’s continuous refusal to abide by its international obligations.
The Foundation and Memorial highlighted two of Russia’s failures to respect international obligations: (1) restrictions of fundamental freedoms through criminal law, and (2) systematically condoning violence against LGBT citizens through its “anti-propaganda” law.
Today in Russia, fundamental freedoms are severely restricted by criminal law. Broadly defined provisions such as incitement of hatred, propaganda of terrorism, and insulting religious feelings have significantly compromised freedom of opinion and expression in the country.
Freedom of association is being curtailed by the implementation of the “undesired organisations” law, and the arbitrary declaration of organisations and communities as extremist or terrorist actors. Police violence against peaceful demonstrations as well as prosecutions of protestors, add to the list of abuses. Today, there are at least 297 political prisoners in the country, and this is an unacceptable reality.
Between 2013 and 2018, no less than 377 hate crimes against LGBT people were committed, ranging from violent attacks to arbitrary killings. Russian authorities not only do not collect data on violence and discrimination against LGBT people but also establish conditions that perpetuate the cycle of discrimination and violence against them.
Since 2013, a law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” has contributed to an intensification of hate crimes, while discouraging survivors from reporting their cases to the police. The “anti-propaganda” law also directly harms LGBT children by denying them access to essential information.
In both of these cases, the Foundation and Memorial urged the Council to draw its attention to Russia’s continuous refusal to abide by its international obligations.
Memorial visited Geneva to attend the 41st session of the Human Rights Council last week. During their stay, they spoke with different Special Rapporteurs and state delegations about political prisoners and LGBTI rights.