As part of the 23rd Session of the UN Human Rights Council, the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) held a briefing with support from Human Rights Watch on the unwillingness of Russia and Belarus to implement UN decisions.
At the briefing, human rights defenders from these two countries drew parallels between the situations in both countries. They stressed that the UN must issue without delay a sharp criticism of the rapidly shrinking civil society space in the Russian Federation. Otherwise, they noted, human rights defenders will continue to be pushed out of the legal field, their activities will be criminalized, and the situation will quickly come to resemble the one currently observed in Belarus.
Valentin Stefanovich, deputy chairman of the Viasna Human Rights Center, spoke at the briefing, where he explained that Belarusian authorities systematically ignore UN treaty-based mechanisms, and that in particular Belarus has failed to observe decisions issued by the UN Human Rights Commission on the treatment of individual citizens, the decision issued by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and other decisions.
— fidh_UN (@fidh_un) June 5, 2013
As part of a report presented to the UN Committee Against Torture, Olga Abramenko, a representative of the Anti-Discrimination Center Memorial, spoke about a trial that will start in a few days regarding charges of serving as a “foreign agent” without proper registration as such.
Valery Sozayev, a representative of the LGBT Network, presented a report on the situation with two LBT organizations that have been subjected to prosecution and spoke about the advancement of a discriminatory law prohibiting “gay propaganda.”
Dmitry Kolbasin, an official from Agora, summarized the persecution of NGOs in Russia and supported his colleagues’ demands for the United Nations to react appropriately to the quickly developing situation to avoid a repeat of what has already happened in Belarus, which has now openly ignored the UN’s opinions for quite some time.
There was a great deal of interest in the briefing. Delegates from UN member countries were able to ask questions and confirm their readiness to draw the UN’s attention to the issues raised.
#France condemns violations to freedom of expression, opinion, association and assembly in Belarus.
— Human Rights Houses (@HRHFoundation) June 5, 2013