RUSSIAN FEDERATION: Release environmental activists now!

Urgent Appeal
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Paris-Geneva, October 4, 2013. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), joins calls for the immediate release of 30 persons arrested by the Russian authorities on September 18 and 19, 2013 for their participation in a Greenpeace peaceful protest against oil drilling in the Arctic on Gazprom’s Prirazlomnaya offshore platform.

On September 26 and 29, 2013, 28 Greenpeace activists from the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise as well as a free-lance photographer and a cameraman were ordered two months of custody by a Court in Murmansk, facing investigation on a possible charge of “piracy” under Article 227 of the Russian Criminal Code, carrying up to 15 years in jail.

On October 2, 2013, the charges for “piracy” were confirmed by a court in Murmansk against crew member Ms. Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel (Brazil), freelance videographer Mr. Kieron Bryan (United Kingdom - UK), Russian activist Roman Dolgov, Finnish activist Sini Saarela, Swedish/American activist Dima Litvinov, UK activist Anthony Perrett, a Ukranian crew member, Argentinian activist Camila Speziale, Dutch activist Faiza Oulahsen, Dutch crew member Mannes Ubels, Polish activist Tomaz Dziemianczuk, a Russian crew member, as well as UK activists Alexandra Harris and Philip Ball. On October 3, 2013, the hearings continued with charges for “piracy” confirmed against crew member Anne Mie Roer Jensen from Denmark, crew member Jonathan Beauchamp from New Zealand, freelance photographer Denis Sinyakov from Russia, crew members Colin Russell from Australia and Andrey Allakhverdov from Russia, as well as crew members Miguel Hernan Perez Orzi from Argentina, Francesco Pisanu from France, Alexandre Paul from Canada, David John Haussmann from New Zealand, and Cristian D’Alessandro from Italy.

As of today, the 28 Greenpeace activists as well as the free-lance photographer and the cameraman remain all detained in several detention facilities of the Murmansk region.

“Activists peacefully protesting for the protection of the fragile environment of the Arctic threatened by oil drillings should be considered as human rights defenders, not as pirates” said FIDH President Karim Lahidji.

“We denounce the ongoing detention of those activists who were arrested for raising public awareness about potential environmental consequences of oil exploration in Arctic and remind the Russian authorities that the legitimate and peaceful activities of human rights defenders should not be obstructed”, urged OMCT Secretary General Gerald Staberock. “We further recall that pre-trial detention should be used in exceptional circumstances”, he added.

The Observatory recalls that the international agreed definition of “piracy” enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea refers to “illegal acts of violence or detention (…) committed for private ends”, which is obviously not relevant in the present case.

The Observatory recalls that the prosecution of the Greenpeace crew is taking place against the background of a wider crackdown on independent civil society organisations in Russia, many of which are facing prosecution for their peaceful human rights activities.

The Observatory calls on the Russian authorities to immediately release the activists and drop all criminal charges against them, and to ensure they have access to legal counsel.

The Observatory more generally urges the Russian authorities to comply with the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders as well as international and regional human rights instruments ratified by the Russian Federation.

For more information, please contact:
· FIDH: Arthur Manet/Audey Couprie: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18
· OMCT: Delphine Reculeau: + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39

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