Russian Federation's increasingly hostile environment for NGOs and rights defenders unacceptable

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Maina Kiai

Russian authorities are being urged to revise a law on 'non-commercial organizations' adopted by the Duma last November. The call comes from three United Nations independent human rights experts who all expressed serious concern at what they've described as the "obstructive, intimidating and stigmatizing effects" brought about by the current implementation of the law in the Russian Federation.

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.

Special Rapporteur on the rights to peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, says "Since the law was passed, we now witness an unprecedented wave of inspections some of which have led to administrative cases against NCOs, including severe penalties".

UN expert on the situation of human rights defenders, Margaret Sekaggya says "Defenders should be able to participate in public affairs by raising issues of public interest in a critical way, irrespective of where their funding comes from".

And, Special Rapporteur on the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue says "Everyone should be entitled to promote and express their ideas freely without undue restrictions".

In July 2012, the three experts warned that the law could brand as 'foreign agents' all foreign-funded NCOs engaging in political activities and impose severe penalties for non-compliance with the established requirements.

Donn Bobb, United Nations.

Duration: 1’31″

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