International Human Rights Mechanisms Under Threat with New Proposed Russian Bill

In yet another worrying development the Russian parliament, the Duma, adopted a bill in its first reading allowing the Constitutional Court to deem as unenforceable decisions from the International Courts including the European Court of Human Rights.

While the bill will require several more readings before being passed and signed into law by President Putin, recent history has demonstrated that bills opposing human rights and the space in which civil society organisations can operate in are routinely passed with little objection.

”Russia has yet again demonstrated its ability to turn its back not only on human rights but on the essential mechanisms used to enforce human rights. While the bill has passed only the first stage history clearly demonstrates that it is highly likely that law will follow the same trajectory as previous draconian laws, the most recent being the Law on Undesirable Organisations”, said Joanna Kurosz, Programme Director of the Eastern European and Central Asia Department at Civil Rights Defenders.

In 2015 this scenario materialised with the passing of the bill on “Undesirable Foreign and International Organisations” with an overwhelming majority of lawmakers voting in favour. The bill permits Russia’s Prosecutor General to designate any international organisation “who poses a threat to the foundation of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, the defence capability of the country or the security of the state” “as undesirable.

Already two international organisations the National Endowment for Democracy and Open Society Foundations have been blacklisted. The bill makes it incredibly difficult for local human rights defenders to continue their vital work because the law essentially cuts off human rights activists from international civil society such as those mentioned above.

The newly proposed bill saw 434 out of 438 deputies voting in favour, with only three voting against and one abstention. It will now proceed to the next stage. Over the years Civil Rights Defenders and it’s partners have succeeded in ensuring that Russia pays millions of Euros in compensation as a result of the decisions from the European Court of Human Rights for gross human rights violations. The fear is if the bill is passed then there will be little or no recourse for the victims of human rights abuses in Russia.

“We therefore call upon the Russian government to immediately refrain from taking this draconian bill any further which would result in Russia sending a clear message that it intends to leave the international human rights system” added Joanna Kurosz.

Categories: News.
Tags: Freedom of expression, Freedom to Life and Physical Integrity, Russia, and Undesirable Foreign and International Organisations.