Human Rights in Russia: Joint Statement to the OSCE | Daily News Byte

Human Rights in Russia: Joint Statement to the OSCE

 | Daily News Byte

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I am making this statement on behalf of the following 39 Participating States, inter alia, which used the Moscow (Human Dimension) Mechanism on 28 July: Albania, Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark , Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spa, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States and my own country Slovakia.

Human Rights Day is an occasion to celebrate the inalienable rights that every person is entitled to as a human being. But Human Rights Day also reminds us to address shortcomings.

A report under the Moscow Mechanism that our countries commissioned concluded that the Russian Federation has systematically repressed its own people over the past two decades. In addition, with its internal clampdown on human rights and fundamental freedoms, the Russian Federation has helped prepare the ground for its war of aggression against Ukraine.

Repressive laws and administrative practices are used to restrict human rights and people’s fundamental freedoms in Russia, particularly through the so-called “foreign agents” and “undesirable entities” laws. The report found that “Russian law in this area is clearly inconsistent with the rule of law.” In particular, the foreign agent law, the report continued, “could be understood as a key tool for regulating civil society activities of both associations and individuals and bringing them under the control of the authorities.”

We need to bring this law to the attention of this Council again because the Russian Federation has tightened the law on foreign agents through the July 14 legislative amendment. Despite the clear guidance given in the report, this legislative amendment came into effect on December 1. Under this new law, it also makes it a criminal behavior to “obtain support and/or otherwise be under foreign influence.” The report explains the “very wide margin for interpretation” that the law provides, and the chilling effect it will have on state affairs and its participation in public life.

The law thus expands the definition of a so-called “foreign agent” to the point where almost any person or entity, regardless of nationality or location, can be so designated. This makes it easier for Russian Federation authorities to intimidate critics, impose strict restrictions on legitimate public activities, and ban them. It makes thoughtful public discourse about Russia’s past, present and future more difficult – though not impossible, as evidenced recently by the OSCE Parallel Civil Society Conference 2022 in Łódź.

What Russian authorities are trying to suppress most is public discourse on Russia’s unprovoked, unjustified and illegal war against Ukraine. In that context, the Moscow Mechanism report identified the use of laws on state secrets and treason as a “growing concern”. In October, opposition activist and longtime champion of OSCE principles Vladimir Kara-Murza was charged with high treason. Investigators claim Mr Kara-Murza committed high treason when he spoke out against the war in Ukraine at public events in Lisbon, Oslo and Washington. Apparently, the crude logic goes, Mr. Kara-Murza is supposed to have cooperated with NATO to express anti-war sentiments in NATO countries. We reiterate our call to the Russian authorities to release Mr. Kara-Murza and all political prisoners and to stop their relentless attacks on dissidents and ordinary citizens who dare to express their views.

The reporter further notes that a law has recently been adopted banning the sharing of so-called fake news about the Russian military, statements “defaming” the Russian armed forces, and calls for sanctions against Russia as politically motivated and a means by Russian authorities to silence dissenting voices. is , leading to a “total information blackout on the war”. On July 8, municipal deputy Alexei Gorynov was sentenced to seven years in prison for spreading so-called “knowingly false information” for speaking out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. On December 9, Russian opposition politician Ilya Yashin was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison for allegedly “spreading false information” about the Russian military by telling the truth about atrocities committed by Russian forces in Bucha.

In the Moscow Mechanism report, the rapporteur noted with great concern the developments in Russia regarding the human rights of LGBTI persons, particularly the new draft law of 18 July banning the dissemination of information denying family values ​​and promoting so-called non-traditional relationships. on the Internet and in cinemas among other things. Just last week, President Putin signed the law into law after it was adopted by the State Duma on November 24 and approved by the Federation Council. The law reinforces stigma and prejudice against LGBTI persons, despite our OSCE commitment to combat intolerance and discrimination and to promote mutual respect and understanding.

The Russian Federation has not reversed its policy against OSCE commitments in the area of ​​human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Moscow Mechanism report reminds us that internal repression and external aggression are “connected as if in a communicating tube”. Two OSCE Moscow Mechanism reports circulated on 13 April and 14 July 2022 documented violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Therefore, the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Russia needs to be under close international scrutiny. We are pleased that the UN Human Rights Council has decided to implement the recommendation of the Moscow Mechanism Report to appoint a Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Russian Federation.

Russia cannot violate its international obligations by violating them. Our OSCE commitments are unwavering and will stand up to the challenge of the Russian government. We will continue to remind the Russian Federation of its OSCE commitments.

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