Calling on Russia: Respect civil society and rights, say regional TI chapters

Heads of chapters from the Europe and Central Asia region met during Transparency International's Annual Membership Meeting and adopted a statement on the Russian Federation, following the three newly adopted laws that increasingly threaten civil society.

Transparency International Chapters from the Europe and Central Asia region call on the Russian Federation to respect international standards regarding human rights and freedom of civil society

We, Transparency International Chapters of the region, consider it to be a violation of human rights that the newly adopted law in the Russian Federation (№139314-5) states that submission of information to international organisations or to international NGOs could be considered as potential high treason and punishable by 12 to 20 years of imprisonment. With this adopted law, the Russian Federation breaches the European Convention on the Recognition of the Legal Personality of International Non-Governmental Organisations, the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC resolution 31/1996), the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (article 13), and the European Convention on Human Rights (article 10 and article 13).

The additional burden on NGOs to register as “agents of foreign influence” according to the law (No 121 of July 20th, 2012) coming into force on 21 November represents a grave violation of freedom of association. It also implies de facto the abolition of the role of civil society. This law will apply to all NGOs if they receive foreign funding for civil society work and submit public policy proposals in Russia.

This above mentioned legal requirement for NGOs violates the international conventions and treaties which the Russian Federation signed and which stipulate cooperation with civil society in implementing and compliance monitoring.

Additionally, the new legislative framework adopted through Government Decision No. 1101/26.10.2012 in the Russian Federation, through which the Government is allowed to censure websites without a court decision, is a serious violation of the right to freedom of expression provided by the European Convention on Human Rights adopted by the Council of Europe.

Seeing these serious shortfalls in democracy and human rights, we, the signatories, demand the Russian authorities to respect their international commitments, to change their policy with regard to freedom of expression and association in order to demonstrate that the Russian Federation is in fact a credible and honest partner in signing and enforcing the relevant international treaties and commitments.

We request therefore that the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe take notice of this statement, draw up a report on the new Russian legislative framework, to present it to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in order to inform all other signatory parties to the Convention.

We also call on participating States of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe to launch a report on the human rights situation in the Russian Federation with the help of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, under the OSCE Moscow Mechanism.

The statement is adopted by Transparency International’s Europe and Central Asia regional meeting

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