World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Briefing Notes: Russia

Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights: Liz Throssell

Location: Geneva

Date: 19 November 2021

Subject: Russia

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.

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. 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.

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.

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”.

Since 2012, 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.

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.

We also call 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.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


UN: Violations Of Palestinian Rights Puts Two-State Solution At Risk, Chief Warns
The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, continues to pose a significant challenge to international peace and security, United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, said on Monday... More>>

Oxfam: Afghanistan Faces Multiple Crises

ActionStation, Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand, Christian World Service, Oxfam Aotearoa and World Vision New Zealand say that while Afghanistan faces chronic poverty, persistent droughts, war, the Covid-19 pandemic and an economic crisis, winter is about to bring a whole new set of challenges...More>>

AFTINET: New COVID Strain Postpones WTO Meeting

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) Ministerial Meeting scheduled for November 30-December 3 has been postponed indefinitely because the new Omicron strain of the COVID-19 virus in African countries with low vaccination rates prevents many African and other delegations from attending the meeting...

Focus On: UN SDGs

Food: Three Billion People Cannot Afford A Healthy Diet

Approximately three billion people, almost 40 per cent of the world’s population, cannot afford a healthy diet and another one billion people would join their ranks should further unpredictable events reduce incomes by one-third, the UN food agency said, launching a new report on Tuesday... More>>

COP26: Enough Of ‘Treating Nature Like A Toilet’ – Guterres Brings Stark Call For Climate Action To Glasgow
As the World Leaders Summit opened on day two of COP26, UN chief António Guterres sent a stark message to the international community. “We are digging our own graves”, he said, referring to the addiction to fossil fuels which threatens to push humanity and the planet, to the brink, through unsustainable global heating... More>>

Climate: ‘Vague’ Net Zero Promises Not Enough: Planet Still On Track For Catastrophic Heating, UN Report Warns

New and updated commitments made ahead of the pivotal climate conference COP26 in the past months are a positive step forward, but the world remains on track for a dangerous global temperature rise of at least 2.7°C this century even if fully met, a new report by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) has warned... More>>