Russian Federation: inclusion of “People in Need” in the list of undesirable organisations

Urgent Appeal

RUS 005 / 1119 / OBS 094
Obstacle to freedom of association
November 15, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your intervention in the following situation in Russia.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the inclusion of “People in Need”1 an international humanitarian and human rights organisation, in the list of undesirable organisations.

According to the information received, on November 12, 2019, “People in Need” became the 19th organisation included on the list of undesirable organisations2. Under the 2015 law on ‘undesirable organisations’ the Prosecutor General and his deputieshave the power to declare as “undesirable” any foreign or international organisation which is deemed by the authorities to present “a threat to the foundation of the constitutional order of the Russian Federation, national defence or state security” in an extrajudicial procedure; ollowing the Prosecutor General’s decision, the Ministry of Justice includes the organisation on the list of undesirable organisations.3

The Observatory recalls that an undesirable organisation is banned from engaging in any activities inside Russia, including the dissemination of information or publication of any materials by such an organisation, and providing financial or other assistance to local organisations and individuals. Violators face fines or prison terms of up to six years. In addition, any Russian citizen or organisation cooperating with an undesirable organisation faces administrative penaltise and, in the case of individuals, even criminal liability.

In an opinion published on July 9, 2015, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights stated that “Commissioner’s concerns with regard to this legislation are related to a lack of legal certainty, the prohibition of arbitrariness and the proportionality of sanctions which are illustrated by the wide discretionary powers granted to the Prosecutor’s Office and the executive authorities combined with the absence of prior judicial review.” This statement underlines that the application of the law on undesirable organisations is a clear obstacle to the right of freedom of association in the country.

The Observatory strongly condemns the inclusion of People in Need in the list of undesirable organisations and urges the Russian authorities to immediately reverse the decision, to respect in all circumstances the right to freedom of association as enshrined in Article 22 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Article 11 of the (European Convention on Human Rights), and to ensure in all circumstances that human rights organisations, including foreign and international NGOs, are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of Russia asking them to:

i. Immediately remove ‘People in Need’ from the list of ‘undesirable organisations’;

ii. Repeal the 2015 law on ‘undesirable organisations’;

iii. Amend the legislation regulating freedom of association so as to uphold the highest international human rights law standards in line with the recommendations issued by the Venice Commission and the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances that human rights defenders and organisations are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

v. Comply with all the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, in particular its Articles 1, and 5;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Russia.


• Mr. Vladimir Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 495 606 3602; + 7 495 625 3581
• Mr. Dimitri Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Twitter: @MedvedevRussia
• Mr. Alexander Konovalov, Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation,,,
• Ms. Olga Goncharenko, Senior Adviser, International Relations Department, Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights of the Russian Federation,;
• Mr. Sergueï Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 495 644 2203
• Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 734 40 44, E-mail:
• Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, Belgium. Fax: +32 2 374 26 13. E-mail:
• Permanent Representation of the Russian Federation to the Council of Europe, France. Fax: (+33) (0) 3 88 24 19 74. Email:

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of Russia in your respective countries.


Geneva-Paris, November 15, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail:
• Tel and fax OMCT +41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / +41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH +33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80


(1) Established in 1992, People in Need (PIN) is an NGO that provides humanitarian aid in conflict zones, fights poverty, strengthens civil society and focuses on developmental cooperation. It also supports human rights around the world and education and social inclusion within the Czech Republic. People in Need has worked in more than 60 cities in the Czech Republic and more than 50 countries around the world.

(2) See

(3) See

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