EURASIA LIFT

Human Rights Issues in Eurasia / Правовые Вопросы В Регионах Евразии

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in Russia

Posted by Info on 17/02/2011

U.N. says Russian efforts on human rights fall short
“There are still too many problems in the sphere of human rights.”

Medvedev has styled himself a champion of democracy, fighter against corruption and modernizer of the economy since he was steered into the Kremlin three years ago by his mentor, then president and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
But his critics argue they have seen little improvement in Russia’s human rights record, and Medvedev has acknowledged his administration has made little progress against endemic corruption.

opening remarks:
Good afternoon,
This is my first visit to the Russian Federation as High Commissioner for Human Rights.
I have concentrated on issues relating to systems and institutions vital to the protection of human rights during my meetings with President Medvedev..

… there is a serious deficit in public trust in key institutions which should be upholding the rule of law, and instead are all too often disregarding it….including murders, intimidation and harassment of human rights defenders and investigative journalists and independent media, and apparent serious miscarriages of justice.
I have received extensive briefings, both by government officials and civil society organizations, on the new Law on Police, which was signed by the President earlier this month and will come into force on 1st March….

However enacting a good law is one thing, and actually implementing it properly is another. The same goes for the implementation of international human rights treaties, and recommendations by various parts of the UN human rights system.
I have offered international expertise to help set up video monitoring of police handling of suspects, especially during interrogations, in an effort to prevent ill-treatment, torture and other human rights violations.

My hope is that the Government’s own broader initiatives such as the reviving or strengthening of accountability mechanisms…The lack of accountability and respect for the rule of law has been particularly acute in relation to the North Caucasus.
…it is essential to ensure that counter-terrorism measures are carried out in line with human rights principles. I fear that the often brutal and illegal methods used by federal and local security and law enforcement agencies in the North Caucasus in the past have aggravated the situation, by alienating many people. Impunity for serious crimes allegedly committed by the military and security has accentuated the cycle of anger and violence, and undermined the entire notion of rule of law.

If the law says torture is illegal (which it does), and torture takes place, and is not punished (which it rarely is) then several institutions are failing, and failing badly, to carry out their clear responsibilities under national and international law to effectively protect the people from serious crimes.

The case of Alexey Sokolov – who disclosed video evidence of grave examples of torture within detention facilities, and is now himself in detention for an alleged act of theft, while the torturers are free – seem to be a particularly egregious example….
…. human rights defenders, lawyers and journalists, including Anna Politkovskaya, Natalia Estemirova and Sergey Magnitsky have been brutally murdered or died in custody…

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