OHCHR / RUSSIA HUMAN RIGHTS

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19-Nov-2021 00:01:32
The UN human rights office (OHCHR) said it was concerned that legal action is under way in Russia “seeking to close down Memorial, among the country’s most respected human rights groups,” according to a spokesperson. UNTV CH

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STORY: OHCHR / RUSSIA HUMAN RIGHTS
TRT: 1:32
SOURCE: UNTV CH
RESTRICTIONS: NONE
LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 19 NOVEMBER 2021, GENEVA, SWITZERLAND

SHOTLIST:

1. Wide shot, Palais des Nations exterior
2. Wide shot, briefing room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Liz Throssell, spokesperson, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“We are concerned that legal action is under way in Russia seeking to close down Memorial, among the country’s most respected human rights groups.”
4. Med shot, participants briefing room
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Liz Throssell, spokesperson, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The foreign agents law was adopted in 2012, requiring all non-governmental organisations that receive foreign funding to register as foreign agents. At the time, the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay voiced deep concern that laws were being passed that restricted civil society space. UN human rights treaty bodies have raised similar concerns about the law and its implementation.”
6. Wide shot, participants briefing room
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Liz Throssell, spokesperson, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“The authorities use the foreign agents designation, widely understood in the Russian context to be stigmatizing, to label what they assert are foreign-funded organisations engaging in political activities.”
8. Wide shot, briefing room and dais
9. SOUNDBITE (English) Liz Throssell, spokesperson, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“We urge the Russian authorities to abolish the ‘foreign agents’ law or substantially amend it so it is in line with the country’s human rights obligations.”
10. Med shot, participants typing and screen
11. SOUNDBITE (English) Liz Throssell, spokesperson, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR):
“We also call on the Russian Government to uphold the fundamental freedoms of opinion and expression and of association and allow diversity in ideas, criticism and dissent.”
12. Wide shot, participants and screen

STORYLINE:

The UN human rights office (OHCHR) said it was concerned that legal action is under way in Russia “seeking to close down Memorial, among the country’s most respected human rights groups,” according to a spokesperson.

Earlier this month, the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Moscow Prosecutor’s Office filed lawsuits calling for the dissolution of the Memorial Human Rights Centre and the International Memorial Society, for reiterated alleged breaches of Russia’s ‘foreign agents’ laws.

OHCHR said these new proceedings are reportedly based on previous breaches of the laws found against Memorial, including failure to mark published materials with the “foreign agent” label. Court hearings on the lawsuits are due to begin on 23 and 25 November.

Speaking to reporters in Geneva today (19 Nov), OHCHR spokesperson Liz Throssell explained that the foreign agents law was adopted in 2012, requiring all non-governmental organisations that receive foreign funding to register as foreign agents. At the time, the then UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay voiced “deep concern that laws were being passed that restricted civil society space,” she said, adding that UN human rights treaty bodies have raised similar concerns about the law and its implementation.

Throssell said, “The authorities use the foreign agents designation, widely understood in the Russian context to be stigmatizing, to label what they assert are foreign-funded organisations engaging in political activities.”

OHCHR said, since it was adopted, the law has been repeatedly modified and has been used against civil society and media organisations, journalists and individual human rights defenders and bloggers, among others.

As a result, many organizations have been repeatedly audited and heavily fined for the slightest regulatory violation, with some forced into liquidation.

The OHCHR spokesperson said, “We urge the Russian authorities to abolish the ‘foreign agents’ law or substantially amend it so it is in line with the country’s human rights obligations.”

The UN human rights office also called on the Russian Government to “uphold the fundamental freedoms of opinion and expression and of association and to allow diversity in ideas, criticism and dissent,” Throssell said.
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