UN rights experts seek assurances that Russian NGO's will not face reprisalsListen /
United Nations human rights experts are voicing grave concern that two Russian non-governmental organizations that gave evidence to the UN Committee against Torture have been charged by Russian prosecutors.
The Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial in St Petersburg and the Public Verdict Foundation in Moscow were charged in April and May respectively with allegedly violating legislation under which non-profit organizations involved in political activity must register as “foreign agents” if they receive money from abroad.
Committee against Torture Chairperson Claudio Grossman and the Committee's Rapporteur on Reprisals George Tugushi said they had been informed that extracts from the groups' submissions to the Committee last November had been cited as a basis for the charges.
They have written to the Russian ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Alexey Borodavkin, seeking urgent clarification and reassurances that Memorial, Public Verdict and other NGOs will not face any reprisals "as a result of their legitimate activities, including providing information to the Committee against Torture".
The experts reminded the Russian authorities that reprisals would contravene the Convention against Torture, to which Russia is a party.
The action by prosecutors against Memorial and Public Verdict was, they wrote, "part of the worrying shift in the legislative environment governing the enjoyment of the freedoms of assembly, association, speech and information".
Donn Bobb, United Nations.