International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH, Paris)
Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (Moscow)
Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” (Saint Petersburg)
13 February 2009
RUSSIA’S FIRST UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW
THE RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT SHOULD TAKE MOST SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS
On the occasion of the first Universal Periodic Review of the Russian Federation by the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on February 4-6, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and its Russian partners, Center for the Development of Democracy and Human Rights (Moscow) and Anti-Discrimination Centre “Memorial” (Saint Petersburg), welcome the fact that many delegations who took part in the interactive dialogue with the Russian Federation raised issues which have been highlighted by domestic human rights groups as well as by FIDH for many years1. The situation of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists, discrimination against migrants, racially motivated violence, unlawful restrictions of freedom of expression, association and assembly, lack of independence of the judiciary, absence of a juvenile justice system, and widespread use of torture indeed remain areas of particular concern.
At the same time FIDH, CDDHR and ADC “Memorial” deplore the Russian Federation’s failure to immediately make any explicit commitments in response to concerns and recommendations of the members of the Human Rights Council, especially with regard to ensuring the security of human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists and notably addressing threats and attacks against them. This problem recently came to light once again with the assassination of the human rights lawyer Mr. Stanislav Markelov and the independent journalist Ms. Anastasia Baburova in Moscow on 11 January 2009. It is most regrettable that such crimes were explained by the head of the delegation Mr. Alexander Konovalov, Russian Minister of Justice, as the “impact of criminality”, de facto denying that murders of lawyers and journalists have been linked to their professional activities.
During the review, several states asked for an independent investigation into these murders and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. Many states also referred to the review of Russia by the Committee for Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in 2008, and called upon the Russian Federation to implement its recommendations such as countering racist violence, strengthening legislative framework in the area of non-discrimination, and improving the situation of indigenous people. The human rights situation in the North Caucasus, including acts of torture and enforced disappearances, was also noted. The Human Rights Council members recommended that the Russian Federation, inter alia, accede to the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and provide access to Ingushetia and the North Caucasus for the UN Working Group on enforced disappearances and the Special Rapporteurs on torture and on extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions.
FIDH, CDDHR and ADC “Memorial” call upon the Russian Federation to accept and comprehensively implement recommendations formulated by the Human Rights Council and to take immediate action to safeguard the work of human rights defenders and journalists, end the practice of discrimination against minorities, reform the justice system and put an immediate end to acts of torture and ill-treatment in the Northern Caucasus and elsewhere in the Russian Federation.
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