UN expresses concern over ethnic discrimination in Russia

ADC Memorial, CrimeaSOS, and FIDH welcome the Concluding Observations and Recommendations of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD), which were released following the Committee’s recent 93rd session. The recommendations reflected the issues raised in an alternative report submitted to the Committee jointly by our organisations.

Thus, the Committee echoed our report in expressing concern with regard to violations of human rights in Crimea, such as the ban on the representative institution of the Crimean Tatar people, the persecution of Crimean Tatars, including administrative and criminal prosecutions, disappearances, mass raids, interrogations, and other forms of pressure, the closure of media outlets using the Crimean Tatar language, and restrictions on using and studying the Crimean Tatar and Ukrainian languages. The Committee recommended that the Russian Federation allow the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights full access to Crimea, repeal all administrative and legislative measures that have the purpose of discriminating against ethnic groups, investigate all violations of human rights, and compensate for harm suffered.

The Committee also took note of discrimination against the Roma and called on the government of the Russian Federation to adopt a comprehensive action plan to support this ethnic minority, to immediately halt the practices of house demolition in Roma settlements and forced eviction of residents without provision of alternative housing, and to put an end to the segregation of Roma children in separate classes and schools.

The Committee called upon the government to fully ensure the rights of indigenous peoples, to legalize territories of traditional nature use, and to repeal discriminatory restrictions on the right of indigenous peoples to fish. The Committee devoted a separate recommendation to the Shor people—a small indigenous group in southwestern Siberia—and called upon the government to restore rights that were violated as a result of coal mining on their traditional lands.

The Committee noted in particular the need to protect against discrimination on the basis of citizenship and recommended adopting measures to protect migrant workers, unregistered persons, and stateless persons regardless of their status and registration in the Russian Federation.

“We welcome the Committee’s assessment of Russian legislation and the recommendations to adopt comprehensive anti-discriminatory laws and to amend the Law on Combatting Extremist Activity. Its recommendations to overcome discrimination against ethnic minorities such as the Roma, small indigenous peoples, Crimean Tatars, and migrants from Central Asia and the South Caucasus are equally important.” – Stephania Kulaeva, director of ADC Memorial