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Amnesty concerned about detention of Greenpeace activists

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL

PRESS RELEASE

27 September 2013

Amnesty concerned about detention of Greenpeace activists

The news that a Russian court has ordered Greenpeace activists to be detained for two months without charge is disturbing Amnesty International has said.

Two New Zealanders are among the 28 Greenpeace International activists, as well as a freelance photographer and a freelance videographer, who were detained last week while protesting against Arctic drilling near Prirazlomnaya, a drilling platform in the Pechora Sea, close to the Novaya Zemlya archipelago off Russia’s northern coast.

“The Greenpeace activists and accompanying journalists must be released on fair and reasonable bail, be informed promptly of any charges against them and given full access to defence lawyers,” said Grant Bayldon, Executive Director of Amnesty International New Zealand.

The Russian authorities have stated that they are considering charging the activists with piracy.

“Charges of piracy are manifestly unfounded in this case – having no basis in law or reality – and it’s profoundly damaging to level such serious charges so carelessly.”

Amnesty International is also concerned by reports that the Greenpeace activists were provided with inadequate interpretation during the hearings at the Lenin district court in Murmansk.

The detention of the activists is another example of the continuing crackdown on the rights to freedom of expression and assembly in the Russian Federation.

“There is a long list of cases where Russia has arbitrarily restricted the right to freedom of assembly and imposed harsh sentencing on peaceful protesters,” said Bayldon.

Only yesterday Amnesty highlighted the suppression of freedom of expression after a member of the punk band Pussy Riot was moved to solitary confinement after she complained about prison conditions.

Reports of unfair trials in the country are numerous and widespread. Amnesty International has received complaints from lawyers across Russia about procedural breaches which undermine their clients’ right to a fair trial.

“This includes the failure to inform the detained person’s family about a detention and the denial of access to a lawyer. Both fundamental safeguards to ensure a person’s human rights are respected,” Bayldon commented.

The detention of the Greenpeace activists also comes after new laws were put in place in 2012 giving the authorities sweeping powers to clamp down on NGOs, human rights and political activists in Russia. Laws which Amnesty International has previously said are at odds with Russia's international human rights obligations.

“The current restrictions imposed on the Greenpeace activists are not proportionate to their actions and should be reviewed immediately,” added Bayldon.

ENDS

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