UN CERD reviewed reports on racial discrimination in Russia

On August 3-4, 2017 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) reviewed the reports of the Russian Federation on the implementation of the relevant convention. The Committee took into account alternative materials, including the report prepared by ADC “Memorial” in cooperation with Sova Information Center, Crimea SOS and International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH), as well as the report on the situation of indigenous peoples in Russia, which had also been supported by ADC “Memorial”.

The questions posed by the CERD to the official Russian delegation reflected on the problems raised by human rights defenders such as hate crimes, misuse of anti-extremist legislation, violation of the rights of Roma people, discrimination of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians, plight of people from the Caucasus region, violations of the rights of migrants, refugees and stateless persons, repression against civil society, inadequate support for indigenous peoples and repression against activists defending their rights.

In responding to the Committee’s questions, members of the official Russian delegation have basically denied violations of the rights of various vulnerable groups. The demolition of houses in the Roma settlement of Aisha, which had taken place on the day of the meeting of the Committee (August 3), was in fact an illustration of what this position leads to. ADC “Memorial” has previosly written in its alternative report on the situation of the Aisha settlement that Roma people who had lived there for a long time could not legalize their houses and allotments, they had been threatened with taking their children away from them and a segregated class for Roma children was organized in a local school. The head of the Zelenodolsk district, where Aisha settlement is located, repeatedly made public anti-Roma statements.

Violations of the rights of Crimean Tatars and Ukrainians were also denied by the Russian delegation, although various human rights reports had testified to the contrary. Representatives of the indigenous Shorian people, who had informed the Committee about the destruction of one of their villages, were boldly accused by Mr. Barinov, the head of the Russian delegation, of providing unreliable information and trying to get unjustified profit from the sale of their land allotments to a coal company operating in the region.

CERD recommendations to the Russian Federation will be officially published in late August.

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