UN Rapporteurs concerned about law on organisations

Three United Nations independent human rights experts express serious concern at the “obstructive, intimidating and stigmatizing effects” brought about by the implementation in the Russian Federation of the law on ‘non-commercial organizations’ (NCOs), adopted on 21 November 2012 by the Duma.

The UN Special Rapporteurs on freedom of association, human rights defenders and freedom of expression urged the Russian authorities to revise the law due to its lack of compliance with international law and standards and its adverse consequences on the important work of hundreds of organizations and human rights defenders.

“Unfortunately, our fears seem to have been confirmed,” said the Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai.

“We already warned against the extensive requirements contained in this law for NCOs allegedly ‘engaging in political activities’, which could infringe on the right of human rights defenders to publically raise human rights issues and conduct advocacy work,” said the UN expert on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya.

Read the whole statement here.

As Civil RIghts Defenders has previously reported, a number of nongovernmental organisations across Russia have received vaguely written communications and loosely worded warnings from the Prosecutor’s Office. In compliance with the 2012 highly criticized law, organisations that receive foreign funding and engage in political activity have to register as foreign agents. The legal grounds for the conclusion are largely unclear, as are the consequences for not complying.

For instance, Memorial Human Rights Centre, a Civil Rights Defenders partner, received written communication from Moscow Prosecutor´s Office, indicating that the “violation of the federal legislation,” allegedly identified over the course of inspections, should be corrected within a month. No further information was offered, implying they should register as a “foreign agent”.

“This is an attempt by the authorities to force human rights organisations to register as foreign agents by confusing and frightening them. The Russian authorities should stop harassing the civil society,” says Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Civil Rights Defenders.

Categories: Achievements and Statements.
Tags: Access to information, Freedom of assembly, Freedom of association, Human Rights Defenders, Maina Kiai, and Margaret Sekaggya.
Regions: Russia.