ADC Memorial informed the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing about discrimination faced by ethnic minorities and people with disabilities in Russia

The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to adequate housing will include information received from civil society in a report to be presented at the UN General Assembly in 2021 and at the UN Human Rights Council session in 2022. The report of the ADC Memorial highlighted violations of the rights of the Roma population of Russia; the indigenous inhabitants of Southern Siberia (Khakas, Shors and Teleuts); persons with disabilities.

Discrimination in the sphere of housing has different forms in case of these groups. For example, in compact Roma settlements the houses and land are not or partly registered; the Roma inhabitants often become victims of forced evictions and demolitions of houses although this is their only housing. The practice of forced evictions contradicts the guarantees and agreements listed in the Declaration on the Rights of Minorities, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination and other international instruments, and should be immediately stopped. The Russian authorities should take legislative measures against forced evictions in accordance with international law, and provide alternative housing to Roma families in case of demolition.

The ancestral lands of the indigenous peoples of Southern Siberia — the Khakas, Shors, and Teleuts –are located in areas rich in coal. Coal mining in the Kemerovo region where Shors and Teleuts live, takes place since the 1970s and continues to expand, destroying the natural and cultural environment of local residents. In the last decade, coal companies have come to the territory of the Koibal steppe – a unique natural complex in Khakassia. Coal mining has already caused irreparable damage of the environment; rivers and water objects, air and land were seriously polluted, and indigenous peoples can no longer hunt and carry out their traditional activities of agriculture. Recently, the territories of compact indigenous settlements have become subject to the increased development of the coal industry. By deceiving, blackmailing and intimidating the indigenous people, the authorities transfer these lands to coal companies for commercial use in violation of current legislation.

The report pays special attention to the situation of people with disabilities, in particular, people with mental disabilities living in psychoneurological institutions (PNI) that are closed, usually located behind a high fence, accessible with a pass system. These institutions systematically violate human rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities ratified by Russia in 2012. People are doomed to remain there for life, they are deprived of the opportunity to live independently and exercise their right to adequate housing. An alternative to PNI can be accompanied living, a practice of home living of small groups of people who need help, with the support and supervision of specialists and provision of all the necessary assistance and services (medical, educational, etc.). The Russian authorities should as soon as possible adopt a law on “distributed guardianship” that is pending under consideration by the State Duma since 2016.