Memorial receiving the Right Livelihood Award in 2004

HRC43: The Right Livelihood Foundation denounces Russia’s legislative restrictions to civil society space

Camilla Argentieri giving an oral statement on behalf of The Right Livelihood Foundation during the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Convention.

On March 6th, at the 43rd session of the United National Human Rights Council, the Right Livelihood Foundation delivered an oral statement raising the attention on Russia’s use of the “foreign agents” law to restrict the human rights work of civil society organisations. In particular, the Foundation raised the case of Human rights Centre Memorial and International Memorial, 2004 Right Livelihood Award Laureate, that in December 2019 were fined 5 million rubles under the aforementioned law.

Read the statement below:

Thank you, Madam President,

The Right Livelihood Foundation and Human Rights Centre Memorial would like to draw your attention to the increasing political pressure directed towards human rights activists and civil society organisations in Russia, where legislative restrictions and targeted prosecutions under the “foreign agents” law have taken on more repressive forms in recent months.

Since its adoption in 2012, authorities have been imposing heavy fines upon human rights organisations. A prime example of this approach being the fining, in December 2019, of Human Rights Center Memorial and International Memorial, 2004 Right Livelihood Award Laureate, with a sum of around 5 million rubles. An egregious amount simply for not attaching the label “foreign agents” to the organisations’ webpages and social media. In the same month, the law was amended to also label individuals as “foreign agents”, with a detrimental impact on the already restrictive environment for independent journalism in Russia.

Madam President,

We would also like to express our deep concern at the regular attacks against human rights defenders in Chechnya. Last month, lawyer Marina Dubrovina and journalist Elena Milashina were both brutally attacked in retaliation for their peaceful and legitimate professional activities to tackle and expose human rights violations.

Madam President,

We call on the Human Rights Council to ensure that Russian authorities bring the existing legislation into line with Russia’s obligations under international law and cease all harassment, intimidation and attacks directed towards civil society, the media, and human rights organisations and defenders.

Thank you.