During the 136th session in October 2022, the UN Human Rights Committee considered the Russian state report on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, as well as alternative materials submitted by representatives of civil society. At the end of the session, the Committee published its recommendations, in which it noted the numerous serious violations of international obligations in the field of human rights by Russia.
Against the background of the ongoing military conflict in Ukraine, the experts of the Committee condemned the war crimes of the Russian military: murders, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture, sexualized violence, arbitrary detentions and forced deportations of the civilian population from the regions of Ukraine controlled by the Russian Federation. Experts stressed the inadmissibility of forced conscription to war in Ukraine and the violent suppression of peaceful protests against such conscription.
The Committee expressed concern about human rights violations and persecution of human rights defenders in the North Caucasus. Human rights violations, such as arbitrary detention, torture and ill-treatment of the civilian population and especially of LGBTQ+ people by the security forces are still widespread in the North Caucasus Federal District and not properly investigated. In this regard, the Committee recommended that the Russian authorities ensure that all human rights violations are investigated thoroughly, effectively and impartially, that perpetrators are held accountable and, if convicted, punished in accordance with the gravity of the acts committed, and that victims and their families are provided with effective remedies for juridical protection.
The Committee expressed serious concern about the institutionalized discrimination and stigmatization of LGBTQ+ people in Russia, including in connection with the law “On the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” adopted in 2013 and an amendment to it, approved in the first reading by Parliament, prohibiting “the denial of family values ” and “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among people of all ages. The Committee is concerned about the lack of adequate protection against violence and attacks against LGBTQ+ people in the Russian Federation, as well as the non-recognition of LGBTQ+ people as a social group in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, which does not allow to consider the crimes against LGBTQ+ people as criminal acts with aggravating circumstances. The Committee is also concerned about persistent harassment of LGBTQ+ organizations and their members, including excessive restrictions on their right to peaceful assembly and the complete cessation of their activities. Taking into account the information received from the reports of NGOs, the experts of the Committee recommended that Russia ensure a full and comprehensive investigation of cases of discrimination and violence against LGBTQ+ people and the provision of effective remedies for victims of violence, as well as bringing the perpetrators to justice. At the legislative level, experts recommended recognizing LGBTQ+ people as a social group in the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation, as well as repealing the law “On the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” and any other legislative acts that stigmatize or discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.
The HRC noted the ongoing acts of racism, xenophobia and racial profiling in Russia, in particular against migrants, refugees and Roma, which, according to human rights organisations reports, have increased during the Covid-19 pandemic, and are exacerbated by the use of new technologies. The experts recommended that the Russian authorities intensify their efforts to combat these phenomena; in particular, conduct awareness-raising activities aimed at promoting respect for human rights and tolerance for diversity, revising and eradicating stereotypical prejudices.
The alternative report of the ADC Memorial was devoted to the situation of the indigenous peoples of Siberia. The Committee took note of allegations of violations of the rights of indigenous peoples by mining companies. Article 27 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that in those countries where ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right to maintain their own culture, profess their religion and perform its rites, as well as use their native language together with other members of the same group. Taking into account other international standards and constitutional guarantees of indigenous peoples, the experts recommended that the Russian authorities ensure the participation of indigenous peoples in the decision-making process regarding their lands and resources, based on the principle of free, prior and informed consent. The Committee expressed concern about the liquidation of the Centre for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North and the ongoing persecution of indigenous human rights defenders, including their exclusion from international forums. The Committee recommended that the Russian Federation ensure the freedom of association of indigenous peoples, including by reviewing the issue of liquidating the Centre for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North.