Reprisals against Anti-Discrimination Centre Memorial: the UN should take action now

Press release
en ru

Intensified reprisals have been carried out against ADC Memorial, one of the most active Russian NGOs in combating discrimination, who has recently been charged of having published and distributed information to the United Nations. These charges have been carried out in the context of a recent law on non-profit organizations adopted in Russia in order to crush the activities of NGOs.

The organization risks huge fines (up to several dozens of thousands of Euros) and compulsory registration as a “foreign agent”, as the new law requires. ADC Memorial and FIDH consider that these charges are direct reprisals undertaken against NGOs cooperating with the UN as part of their legitimate work to provide information to the UN.

Our organizations call upon the concerned UN mechanisms and the UN member States to denounce this clear case of reprisals as part of a more general policy of silencing human rights NGOs.

More specifically, ADC Memorial and FIDH urge a representative of the Committee Against Torture, that reviewed the Russian Federation in November 2012, to observe the proceedings against ADC Memorial in St Petersburg and testify as a witness at the Court in support of this organization and its legitimate right to cooperate with the Committee. Indeed, these charges directly stem from the preparation, publication and distribution of the alternative report to the Committee against Torture “Roma, Migrants, Activists: Victims of Police Abuse” [1].

The Committee, in its assessment of the Russian Federation’s compliance with the Convention against Torture [2], has considered, among other sources of information, including governmental sources, alternative reports by NGO’s, among which the report of ADC Memorial prepared with the support of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).

The Committee specifically recommended to the Russian government to “ensure that no individual or group will be subjected to prosecution for communicating with, or for providing information to the Committee against Torture, (…) or to other United Nations human rights organs in performing their respective mandates”. Bringing charges against a non-profit organization, such as ADC Memorial, and against its director Olga Abramenko, for having submitted a report to the Committee against Torture in support of disadvantaged groups (Roma, migrants and activists that champion minority rights) is a clear violation of the obligation of the Russian Federation to cooperate with the organs of the UN (article 46 of UN Charter) and also sets a dangerous precedent, which would prevent other Russian NGO’s from submitting further information to the UN.

In this regard, ADC Memorial and FIDH urge the Special Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and association and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders to clearly denounce this persecution of human rights defenders for communicating with the UN system. As underlined by UN Secretary Ban Ki Moon in his last report on reprisals, States have the duty to ensure that all necessary measures are taken to prevent reprisals and intimidation of human rights defenders.

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