Release of Ms. Larisa Arap - RUS 005 / 0807 / OBS 087.2 -

21/08/2007
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the release of Ms. Larisa Arap, a Russian journalist and opposition activist who had recently denounced the treatment of children in psychiatric hospitals in the Murmansk region.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in the Russian Federation.

New information:

According to the information received, on August 20, 2007, around noon, a medical committee informed Ms. Larisa Arap that she was released from the psychiatric hospital where she was forcibly held in the city of Apatity. The doctors did not explain their decision and made her sign an agreement to continue her prescribed treatment at home.

The Observatory welcomes the release of Ms. Larisa Arap and wishes to thank all the persons, organisations, and institutions that intervened in her favour.

Nevertheless, the Observatory expresses its deep concern regarding alleged acts of ill-treatment Ms. Arap would have been subjected to while forcibly hospitalised, and calls upon the Russian authorities to conduct a fair and impartial investigation into these allegations so that all those responsible be identified, brought to justice and sentenced according to sanctions provided by law.

Background information:

On July 5, 2007, Ms. Larisa Arap, a member of the United Civil Front, an opposition movement, was arrested in a clinic in Murmansk where she had gone for a medical examination to renew her driver’s licence. Following her arrest, she was transferred to a psychiatric hospital 150 km outside Murmansk, and would have been forcefully injected with drugs, beaten and tied to a bed.

Ms. Arap’s arrest followed the publication, on June 8, 2007, of an article she had written on the ill-treatment of children in psychiatric hospitals in the Murmansk region, in Marsh Nesoglasnykh (Dissenters’ March), the newspaper published by the United Civil Front. In particular, she criticised the use of electroshock and alleged that patients would have been beaten and raped.

On July 18, 2007, a Murmansk district court signed an order for Ms. Arap’s compulsory treatment.

On July 26, 2007, Ms. Arap was taken to the hospital she had criticised in her article, in Apatity, and on August 12, 2007, a local district court upheld the order for Ms. Arap’s compulsory treatment. Ms. Arap’s lawyer appealed this decision.

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of the Russian Federation to:

i.guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Ms. Larisa Arap as well as of all human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;

ii.Conduct a fair and impartial investigation into the allegations of ill-treatment above-mentioned so that all those responsible be identified, brought to justice and sentenced according to sanctions provided by law;

iii.Put an end to all acts of harassment against her as well as all other human rights defenders in the Russian Federation;

iv.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 with Article 1, which provides that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realization of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels", Article 6.b, which reads that "everyone has the right, individually and in association with others [...] freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms", as well as with Article 12.2 which reads that "the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration";

v.comply with the provisions of the Document of the Copenhagen Meeting of the 2nd Conference on the Human Dimension of the Cooperation and Security Conference in Europe (CSCE) (1990), and uphold in all circumstances the principles and provisions enshrined in the international and regional human rights instruments ratified by the Russian Federation and which, in particular, guarantee freedoms of association, demonstration, expression and opinion, in particular the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Addresses:

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, President of the Russian Federation, Kremlin, Moscow, Russia, Faxes:+ 7 095 206 5173 / 230 2408, Email: president@gov.ru;
Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Ustinov, 103793 g. Moskva K-31, Ul. B. Dimitrovka, d 15a, Russian Federation, Fax: + 7 095 292 88 48;
Chairwoman of the Presidential Human Rights Commission of the Russian Federation, Ella Pamfilova, 103132 g. Moskva, Staraya ploshchad, d 8/5,pod 3, Russian Federation, Fax:+70952064855;
Minister of Internal Affairs, Rashid Nurgaliev, ul. Zhitnaya, 16, 117049 Moscow, Russian Federation, Telegram: Rossiia, 117049, Moskva, Fax: + 7 095 237 49 25;
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sergey Lavrov, Smolenskaya-Sennaya pl, 32/34, 121200 Moscow, Russian Federation, Telegram: Fax:+ 7 095 244 2203;
Ambassador Leonid Skotnikov, Permanent Mission of the Russian Federation to the United Nations in Geneva Av. de la Paix 15, CH-1211, Geneva 20, Switzerland, e-mail : mission.russian@ties.itu.int, fax: +4122 734 40 44;
Embassy of the Russian Federation in Brussels, 31-33 boulevard du Régent, 1000 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: + 32 2 513 76 49.

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of the Russian Federation in your respective country.

***
Geneva - Paris, August 21, 2007

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

The Observatory, a FIDH and OMCT venture, is dedicated to the protection of Human Rights Defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need. The Observatory was the winner of the 1998 Human Rights Prize of the French Republic.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line: E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 20 11 / +33 1 43 55 18 80 Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

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